MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines: Aroroy residents turn out in strength against Aus-Canadian backed project

Published by MAC on 2009-03-22

Once again, a Philippines mining project which appeared to lack local opposition, turns out to have suffered more from a lack of national interest or adequate coverage of the local peoples' resistance.

4,000 Aroroy Residents Barricade CGA

Alyansa Tigil Mina Press Release

16th March 2009

The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) puts its complete support behind the concerned citizens and officials of Aroroy, Masbate who are protesting the unwelcome and unsafe presence of the operations of Filminera Mining Corporation (FMC) in partnership with Australia- and Canada-based Central Gold Asia Ltd. (CGA)

There is no support in the community for FMC, upon whose site marched thousands of concerned residents under the banner of the Association of Concerned Residents of Aroroy Inc. (ACRA). Backed by the Church, the Social Action Center of Masbate and Bishop Joel Baylon, these residents called for the cancellation of the Minerals Productions Sharing Agreement (MPSA) issued to Filminera.

In a statement, the Diocese of Masbate Social Action Foundation Inc. (DIMASAFI) considers that it is the Church's "duty and responsibility to vigorously to oppose the "open pit" mining of CGA in the town of Aroroy as a sign of our faith and understanding that we are stewards of God's creation, and are accountable to Him who has created everything in our world to be good."

There is no support in the local government for FMC, as Aroroy's Sangguniang Panlalawigan has slammed them for lacking even the basic requirement of an Environment Compliance Certificate. It was also recently revealed that FMC lacks a Mayor's permit and a business permit.

"If they were any other business, FMC's operations would be shuttered immediately, but mining in the Philippines operates under the protection of the DENR-MGB as led by Sec. Lito Atienza," says Jaybee Garganera, National Director of ATM. He further said that "instead of protecting the environment, Sec. Atienza strives to further its degradation, allowing the most outrageous practices to happen under his nose.

Far from being a regulatory agency, the DENR-MGB actively supports mining in all its endeavors, including the denial of Filipinos to their water rights. In this regard, Filminera now competes with the water source down Guinubatan River.

"Saying that Filminera is sharing their water rights to the community, it seems that the people now are indebted to the mining company," says Marcial C. Velasco, Chairman of ACRA.

"The people of Aroroy have the prior rights over its water sources; we are from this locality since the time we were born and the livelihoods of our people is at stake."

Atty. Rhia Muhi of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan / Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK-FoE Phils.) said that in "this recent development of opposition to open-pit mining of CGA and Filminera in Aroroy, there is now a clear manifestation of the loopholes of the Mining Act of 1995 which favors foreign companies. It is now the ripe time to support the Alternative Mining Bill (AMB) which addresses the concerns raised by civil society with regard to environmental protection, economic benefits, human rights, and indigenous peoples rights."

Led by ACRA and backed by the Catholic and Evangelical Churches with some other sects and denominations, the residents of Aroroy has been barricading in front of Filminera mines in Brgy. Puro, Aroroy, Masbate. The protest attended by almost 4,000 people is on its third day since March 14, 2009.

CONTACTS:

Rodne R. Galicha (ATM Sites of Struggles Officer): 09087421905

Marcial Velasco/Danilo Corpuz (ACRA Members of the Board): 09209190274

E-mail: kalikasan101@gmail.com Website: www.alyansatigilmina.net

 



Philippines: Thousands protesting open pit gold mine

Intercontinental Cry

23 March 2009

Thousands of local villagers in the Masbate province of the Philippines, are in their second week of protesting the “unwelcome and unsafe” presence of the Filminera Mining Corporation (FMC).

Working in partnership with Australia/Canada-based company, Central Gold Asia (CGA), Filminera’s open pit gold mine in Aroroy was scheduled to be fully operational on March 20th, but a massive show of local opposition halted the company from moving ahead.

On March 14, as many as 4,000 villagers from Aroroy barricaded themselves in front of the mine site.

A battalion of soldiers was flown in to protect the mine site soon after the protest began, reports the CBCP. A second report from the CBCP explains that, as of March 18, there were “about 50 armed men belonging to Alpha Company 22nd CAFGU Battalion who are roaming around the mining site, while three boats of the 9th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army are anchored at the municipality’s shores and most of its men are conducting check points and searches.”

Fortunately the military hasn’t taken any action yet, but they could make a move at any moment.

Meanwhile, the company has declared a “five-day work holiday” at the mine, and given away free banquets, bingo socials “and all sorts of sports” to try and hollow-out the protesters’ legitimate demands.

The villagers are asking the government to revoke Filminera’s mining permit, and to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 “which favors foreign companies” over environmental protection, human rights, and indigenous peoples rights.
Philippines: Thousands protesting open pit gold mine img_1050-128x96

A number of primary concerns are fueling the demands, as the diocese of Masbate Social Action Foundation Inc. (DIMASAFI) explains in a recent statement:

Central Gold Asia, at the beginning of its activity has painted a rosy picture before the eight (8) impacted communities with promises of employment and social development. After years of exploration, it began to show its ugly face:

The situation for local communities will continue to deteriorate if the mine becomes fully operational.

However, if support and solidarity is an indication, it’s that the mine will never see the full light of day.

As of March 23, the protest is attended by at least 7,000 villagers, fisherfolk, and other concerned citizens. Several NGO’s and Ecumenical groups, including the Catholic Church, have also expressed their support for the villagers.

It appears that the local government supports them aswell. Aroroy’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (legislature) “has slammed them for lacking even the basic requirement of an Environment Compliance Certificate,” notes a press release from Alyansa Tigil Mina, a coalition of NGO’s opposed to large scale mining. “It was also recently revealed that FMC lacks a Mayor’s permit and a business permit.”

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