MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines: yet another mining agreement angers local people

Published by MAC on 2009-03-11

Newest FTAA is as questionable as all the rest: Green groups slam approval of fourth mining FTA

Yet another mining agreement was approved by the Philippine government this week for a project intensely opposed by local people. Less than a week was granted for the project's public assessment.

As with an earlier such agreement, handed down to Xstrata plc for its Tampakan copper-gold mine, the corporate beneficiary is a British company.

10 March 2009

The Alyansa Tigil Mina today slammed the approval of the fourth Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) to Metals Exploration PLC for a site in Runruno, Nueva Vizcaya by noting the questionable cicumstances surrounding the agreement's approval and criticizing DENR Secretary Lito Atienza's careless judgement in the matter.

Network contacts in the Runruno community have stated that the public scoping process began on March 4th, 2009. With the FTAA dated March 9th, the scoping did not even last a week before Sec. Atienza made his decision. Community partners have also stated that out of a population of 3000 plus residents, not even 300 were present for the public scoping. It is almost certain that the people of Runruno were not properly consulted by Metals Exploration PLC.

In a statement, Josie Guillao, one of the leaders of Runruno Landowners' Association (RULANAS) said, "we strongly oppose the recent approval of the FTAA. This shows the obvious connivance of the mining company with the DENR given the fact that the public scoping was conducted only last week. We have learned the lessons from the Didipio project. The lies and deceit should be stopped."

Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of the Alyansa Tigil Mina seconded this, saying that, "this latest FTAA issued by the DENR is a foolish move given the global financial crisis and furthermore, a slap in the face to the people of Nuvea Vizcaya who previously rejected large scale mining operators in the province including OceanaGold."

OceanaGold is infamous as a company whose operations were so unacceptable to the residents of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, they barricaded the road to the mine site. This set off a chain of reactions - including a rash of violent demolitions and shootings - that ended when OceanGold suspended its project in the face of heavy provincial resistance. The country's second FTAA went to the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato whose site has been repeatedly attacked and torched by armed groups.

With the approval of this latest FTAA, the government seems all too willing to repeat the mistakes of the past, creating yet another mine in the midst of a community that does not want one and will not welcome one.

"The continued presence of an open-access system that favors large corporate interest in resource extraction and the absence of an efficient regulatory system in the country has now become unsustainable. FTAAs pose more serious environmental challenges to our already severely degraded ecosystems," said Prof. Blas Tabaranza, Executive Director of Haribon Foundation. He further stressed that "We need clean water, clean air and food, certainly not minerals intended for other rich countries' industrial requirement."

Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, Executive Director of the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) added that the approval was a "clear indicator of the government's violation of the rights of indigenous peoples in favor of big mining companies."

She pointed out the DENR's "utter disregard of the processes in securing the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples" and scored the government for consistently siding with big business "at the expense of the peoples' rights and interests."

It is wise to remember that it was specifically the FTAA provision that caused the first challenge to the Mining Act of 1995. The FTAA's roots are steeped in conflict - with communities, with local governments and with the Philippine Constitution. The ATM calls upon the DENR, specifically, Secretary Atienza, to reconsider the granting of this approval as it reeks of inappropriate manuevers and will only serve to heighten the simmering tensions between mines and communities in Nueva Vizcaya.

Contact Information:
Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina, 09153153719
Josie Guillao, RULANAS, 09205200493

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RODNE R. GALICHA
Sites of Struggles Officer: Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
E-mail: kalikasan101@gmail.com
Websites: http://sibuyan.com, http://alyansatigilmina.net
Phone: +63.908.742.1905

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