MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining bureaucrat is made new Philippine Environment Secretary

Published by MAC on 2010-02-15
Source: Dow Jones, Philippine Daily Inquirer (2010-02-10)

Environmentalists express alarm over "bad decision"

Communities and activists have long complained about the schizophrenic nature of having a Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); one that is meant to protect the environment, but at the same time promote natural resource extraction, through mining.

It seems that the out-going Philippines President has decided the best way to sort this dilemma is to promote the head of the mining section to run the whole DENR for the rest of her term.

Unsurprisingly the Philippine Chamber of Mines is happy about this, but it definitely seems to be in the minority.

One is bound to wonder how this will affect the investigation the DENR is currently  running into its own questionable decision to allow environmental clearance for Intex's  Mindoro nickel project....

Philippines Government Appoints New Natural Resources Secretary

Dow Jones

10 February 2010

MANILA - Horacio Ramos has been appointed as the new Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, the chief aide of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Wednesday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters that Ramos, head of the Philippines' Mines and Geosciences Bureau since 1996, will replace former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza, who resigned recently to run for Mayor of Manila.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines welcomed Ramos' appointment, noting that the new member of Arroyo's Cabinet has four decades of experience at the agency and is acknowledged as a key player in the government's revitalization program for the mineral industry.

The chamber is hopeful that Ramos will support programs aimed at attracting around $13 billion in direct investments in the mining industry over the next three years.


Green groups alarmed over mining director’s appointment as DENR chief

Kalikasan-PNE Press Release

11 February 2010

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's naming of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Horacio Ramos as acting secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) alarmed environmental groups as a new offensive to the people and environment.

"Mr. Horacio Ramos' appointment spells trouble to communities and environmental advocates as he will be sure to intensely push for the implementation of the government's policies where environmental protection and conservation is only secondary to the sell-out of our natural resources to private and foreign corporations," said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kaliksan PNE).

Director Ramos has been with the MGB since 1970's during the Marcos Dictatorship and was named director of the bureau in 1996 under the Ramos administration and is now head of DENR. This, according to Kalikasan PNE, translates to an extensive record of facilitating plunder of the country's mineral resources to foreign corporations and now greater license to sell out other natural resources.

"During his stint as MGB Director, Mr. Ramos failed miserably to protect our environment from pollution and destruction brought about by big mining companies. From 1996 to 2007 there has been about 13 mine tailings dam failures in the Philippines, which released millions of toxic mine wastes to our environment. Most controversial is the Marcopper mine spill in Marinduque in 1996 and series of mine spills in Rapurapu, Albay from 2005 to 2007. Even in the so-called ‘sustainable mining’ propaganda of Arroyo administration, Horacio Ramos failed to rehabilitate mining disaster areas like Rapu-rapu and Marinduque,” informed Mr. Bautista.

According to Kalikasan PNE the Philippines is endowed with rich mineral lands but the government's concept of utilizing it is to sell and export it as raw materials to foreign investors and not for the benefit of the Filipino people and country's industrialization.

To cite the Philippine mining statistics, the mining gross production value in 2007 was worth Php101.5 billion, an increase of 40% from the 2006 production of Php72.5 billion, and an increase of 134% from 2004. Based on an initial MGB report, the government collected a total of Php5.029 million from the mining sector in 2007, just 5% of the total mineral production value.

On the same year, the sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was only Php18 billion, equivalent to a mere 1.3%. One the other hand, Philex Mining Corp., a partner of mining giant Anglo-American, reported a Php1.03 billion net profit for the first quarter of 2008 alone, which means that individual mining companies are raking in more profits than our own government.

"While local communities are suffering from poverty, environmental degradation, physical and economic displacement and poor health, it is the foreign corporations who are benefiting from our mining industry," said Bautista.

Bautista expressed that, "This framework of 'sustainable development' and 'management of natural resources' that our government and its agencies are perpetuating is clearly against the interests of our people. Having a DENR secretary whose record embodies this corrupt system leaves little hope for communities and environmentalists pushing for a balance and sustainable ecology.”

Kalikasan PNE then urges communities and advocates to be vigilant against midnight deals and fast tracking of dubious environmental projects such as mega dams, coal-fired power plants, mining and logging projects under Mr. Ramos.

"The coming months will be crucial in our long environmental struggles as we anticipate the acceleration and more intense facilitation of environmental plunder and degradation by President Arroyo and her staunch DENR appointee." ended Bautista.

Reference: Clemente Bautista Jr. National Coordinator, Kalikasan-PNE 09228449787

KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the majority at their core.

KALIKASAN PEOPLE’S NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756; E-mail: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com; Website: www.kalikasan.org


Green group opposes Ramos as environment chief

By Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao

11 February 2010

OZAMIZ CITY, Philippines- Environmental activists have expressed apprehension about the appointment of Horacio Ramos as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Carl Cesar Rebuta of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK) said Ramos has been representing an environmental policy ripe for more "mining intrusions" into indigenous peoples' communities.

"It will be no different from the current policy track-relentless exploitation of the country's mineral resources," said Rebuta.

Ramos used to be director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). He oversaw the formulation of the controversial National Minerals Policy (NMP).

Environmental activists claim the NMP "virtually guaranteed unhampered entry of large-scale mining operations without so much regard to social and environmental costs."

Primarily taking off from the Philippine Mining Code of 1995, government had set out to exploit the country's minerals potential- estimated at billions of dollars in value -as among its panacea for economic development.

At the time the Mining Code or Republic Act 7942 was enacted, the mining industry was in the doldrums.

But opposition from communities and the influential Catholic bishops is dragging a rebirth of the industry.

Amid this, the choice of DENR chief has been a barometer of which direction government policy sways on mining.

"This (Ramos appointment) is bad news for the communities, and for the environment," noted Rebuta.


Green groups dismayed over new DENR chief

By Abigail Kwok, INQUIRER.net

12 February 2010

MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's choice of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Horacio Ramos as environment secretary was "bad feng shui" for the environmental situation in the country, advocates said Friday.

"We were in aghast to know that the longtime MGB director Horacio Ramos is now the DENR secretary. His appointment as DENR Secretary is a 'bad fung shui' or bad omen to the current unhealthy state of the Philippine environment," said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group composed of 80 organizations.

"We fear that Ramos, as an appointee of [Arroyo], will pursue the crime of irrational exploitation of our natural resources and turn a blind eye and deaf ears to the legitimate resistance of mining affected communities and environmental groups," said Garganera.

"This appointment of Horacio Ramos as DENR secretary has great implications on the direction of the DENR," said Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center executive director Judy Pasimio.

Father Edu Gariguez, Alyansa Laban sa Mina (Alamin) spokesman, also alleged that Ramos was in connivance with a Norwegian mining firm to pursue a project that has been greatly opposed by the local government in Mindoro.

"How can a mining lover like Horacio Ramos lead in saving our environment from total destruction? Ramos has worked in connivance with Norwegian-based Intex Resources to pursue the nickel project strongly opposed by local government officials, Mangyan indigenous groups, Catholic Church leaders and residents of Mindoro," Gariguez said.

Gariguez was among those who went on hunger strike in protest of the Mindoro Nickel project last year.

Blas Tabaranza, executive director of the environmental group Haribon said, "We are dismayed at his appointment as this threatens our conservation efforts but we hope that the appointment of Horacio Ramos will still keep the dialogue between civil society organizations and DENR open."

From the Diocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur, Sister Lydia Lascano from the Social Action Center expressed her dismay. "The appointment of Horacio Ramos is unfortunate. It dashed to the ground all my hopes for the protection and preservation of the environment and natural resources in the Philippines," she said.

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