MAC: Mines and Communities

Local communities complain about fairness of mining consultation on Palawan, Philippines

Published by MAC on 2010-03-24
Source: ATM Press Release (2010-03-23)

Local groups, of primarily indigenous peoples, on the island of Palawan are protesting at the so-called consultations taking place for proposed mining projects on the island.

In one case the public consultations for two separate projects were conflated. In another the consultation was limited only to 'pro-mining' elements of the community.

Mining projects by law are required to obtain a social license in order to operate, but the law is unclear on minimum standards for the process, which allows companies to manipulate the situation.

There are also fears the process is being rushed in case a pro-mining mayor is removed in the forthcoming elections.

Groups demand transparency in Palawan mine community dealings

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) Press Release

23 March 2010

MANILA, Philippines - Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group on environmental and human rights issues and people's movement composed of more than eighty (80) organizations from mining-affected communities and civil society organizations nationwide, demands transparency in community dealings of MacroAsia Nickel Corporation in Brooke's Point, Palawan.

It was reported by mining affected communities in Brooke's Point that MacroAsia conducted a closed door focus group discussion (FGD) exclusive to its pro-mining allies held at the Palawan State University (PSU) on Saturday, March 20.

"The closed door FGD conducted by MacroAsia was conducted in bad faith - it lacks transparency and discriminated residents, which are directly impacted by the mining project. Both pro- and anti- mining stakeholders have the right to be adequately informed and consulted on matters that affect their lives," said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.

"MacroAsia's lack of transparency and show of prejudice in its community dealings is an unethical practice. This dangerous practice breeds division and conflict in communities," added Garganera.

"MacroAsia just invited a few barangay [village] officials whom they know are ‘pro-mining'. How will there be a balanced discussion? We are also affected by the mining project. We were not allowed to go inside the FGD room to join or even observe the discussion. They even hid the information about the attendees in the FGD," said Ipilan barangay councilor Jane E. Arraullo.

"Barangay Ipilan is the center of MacroAsia's operation. Majority of the residents in our barangay are farmers and they do not want mining because mining will destroy our environment and disrupt our livelihood. MacroAsia has repeatedly conducted consultations in Ipilan with consistent results that majority of our people voted for the rejection of` the nickel project," said Ipilan barangay chair Jonathan Lagrada.

"They [MacroAsia] did not conduct the FGD in Ipilan because they know Ipilan does not want mining. They did not even invite me to prevent me from giving my reaction. The closed door FGD held at PSU is their tactic to come up with measures to still push for the nickel project and disregard Ipilan's strong opposition to mining," added Lagrada, who was slapped with a suspension order by the Ombudsman upon MacroAsia's filed suit against him 2009.

"Despite the strong opposition of majority of the mining affected communities in Brooke's Point, MacroAsia remained overly confident that their project will push through. The invitation letter sent by MacroAsia mining superintendent Engr. Noel M. Manrigue to the pro-mining invitees indicated that the FGD is about the Infanta Nickel Project ‘na ipapatupad sa ating lugar' [‘to be implemented in our area], said Larry Onda, community leader against mining in Brooke's Point.

"They only invited some MacroAsia 'scholars' and some college students at the FGD. How about us younger stakeholders? We are not properly informed about the mining project. They are disregarding our rights to decide on the nickel project which affects our future," said Jenny May C. Rey, high school student leader from Ipilan National High School.

"Shame on MacroAsia for not considering representations of all stakeholders impacted by the nickel project. We believe that they purposely did not invite our constituency because of our anti-mining stand and they strategically scheduled the consultations on Saturdays knowing that it is our day of worship so that we will not be able to attend", said Dixie R. Madrinado, Seventh Day Adventist Church Leader from Barangay Maasin.

"Moreover, we are farmers and mining contradicts the propagation of agricultural progress in our beloved community. Mining will kill us. We are committed to hold a barricade against MacroAsia operations if they will not respect our opposition to mining," added Madrinado.

"We are disgusted by the closed door FGD. The lack of transparency of MacroAsia shows the insincerity of their dealings with the affected communities in Brooke's Point. Their consistent disregard to the concerns of anti-mining groups specially with regards to the environmental and social impacts of the nickel project proves that they continuously hiding the truth about negative effects of their project that outweigh the benefits they try to convince people with", said Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW) national coordinator Artiso A. Mandawa.

"The Mining Act of 1995 is also to blame for such manipulative conduct of mining companies facilitating the process of consultations in affected communities. There is no clear process in the consultation with regards to standards on representation and social acceptability. It lacks social safeguards for the stakeholders. In most cases, the number of attendees in the consultation becomes the basis of compliance to the required environmental impact assessment process yet the real concerns of stakeholders are not adequately addressed," added Mandawa.

"MacroAsia has a consultation with the indigenous groups scheduled on March 29 with regards to the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process. We will see to it that presence of anti-mining groups will be allowed in the process of consultation and we are determined to loudly present our rejection to the nickel project to protect our future", said Mandawa.

MacroAsia obtained a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau covering 1,114 hectares of land in barangays Ipilan, Maasin, and Mambalot in Brookes Point, Palawan in March 2006. It gives MacroAsia exclusive right to explore, develop and utilize for commercial purposes nickel, chromite, iron and other associated mineral deposits that may be found in the area.

ALDAW Network, an advocacy-campaign network of Indigenous Peoples jointly constituted by NATRIPAL (United Tribes of Palawan) and BANGSA PALAWAN PHILIPPINES (Indigenous Alliance for Equity and Wellbeing).

ATM is convened by HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center - Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and Philippine Parntership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA). (30)

For more information:
Artiso A. Mandawa, ALDAW National Coordinator (0928) 203.09.08/(0905) 614. 56.31, matanggubat@gmail.com
Jane E. Araaullo, Barangay. Ipilan councilor, (0905)759.7799
Larry Onda, Brooke's Point community leader and farmer, (0927)635.6972
Jenny May C. Rey, Ipilan National High Schol, Student Leader 09-26311-6342
Dixie R. Madrinado, Adventist Church Leader 0916-1855-853
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0915) 315.37.19, nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Roslyn Arayata, ATM Policy Officer (0917) 521.7937, policy@alyansatigilmina.net


Groups slam 'joint forces' of DENR and 2 mining firms in Palawan

ATM Press Release

15 March 2010

MANILA, Philippines -- Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group on environmental and human rights issues and people's movement composed of more than eighty (80) organizations from mining-affected communities and civil society organizations nationwide, slam the joint public scoping consultation of MacroAsia Corporation and Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) facilitated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) held at Barangay Mambalot, Brooke's point, Palawan on Saturday, March 13.

"It is unusual and highly dubious that the required public scoping consultation of the two proponents be facilitated in one consultation event. This process relentlessly favors mining companies, which share the expenses in the conduct of a joint public consultation, limits the time for public scrutiny or inquiry for each proponent, breeds questionable stakeholders representation and has an irregular and confusing social acceptability standard procedure," said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.

"How DENR allowed this joint public consultation of MacroAsia and INC came no surprise to us knowing that this happened under the leadership of pro-mining longtime Mines and Geosciences Bureau director, now DENR chief Horacio Ramos, who is determined to fast-track all mining applications and process before the Arroyo Administration ends," added Garganera.

"The joint forces of the DENR and mining firms, MacroAsia and INC, in facilitating the joint public scoping consultation is an obvious demonstration of a tactic to fast-track the issuance of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to fully operationalize mining operations of these companies in Palawan the soonest, despite the strong opposition of the people of Brooke's Point", said Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW) national coordinator Artiso A. Mandawa.

"The joint consultation demonstrated irregularities that should not be taken lightly by authorities and stakeholders. Originally, people were informed that a separate public consultation of MacroAsia and INC will be facilitated. However, we were surprised that a joint consultation of these companies was conducted. It was confusing for the stakeholders. DENR did not even explain the rationale behind the unusual joint consultation. Were they cost-cutting? The mine projects of MacroAsia and INC are both located in Brooke's Point and to a certain extent the proponents have the same affected areas such as Barangay Ipilan but this should not be the basis for the joint consultation," said Mandawa.

"Last November, the INC conducted a consultation with local government units (LGU) but failed to get social acceptability from the barangays of Ipilan, Maasin, Mambalot and Calasaguen. Under the law, if the LGU consultation were unsuccessful, the proponent would have to wait for a year before it can conduct consultation again with its concerned stakeholders. We fear that INC is riding with MacroAsia's consultation with the attempt to bypass this restriction with the help of DENR," exclaimed Mandawa.

"Moreover, bribery concerns were revealed during the consultation. Mambalot barangay captain Aderna Erlinda A. Edep admitted that she was the one who proposed to the mining companies to give Php 200.00 per individual to encourage the people to attend the consultation, which mining companies agreed on. Pro-mining barangay leaders, which were also promised monetary incentives for every 10 'recruits', distributed 'claim stubs' to residents, which were promised Php 200.00 for their attendance and supposedly pro-mining stance. In fact, when the consultation adjourned residents with the stubs stayed behind and waited for their monies," said Mandawa.

"It is really shameful how these mining companies manipulate our people with bribery. With the impacts of El Nino causing prices of food to rise, poor people easily succumbed to the Php 200.00 offer," added Mandawa.

"Despite the 'pro-mining recruits' and promise of 200 pesos per attendee during the consultation, MacroAsia and INC failed to get social acceptability because majority of the people rejected the proposed mine operations," said Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) advocacy officer Datu Abdelwin Sangkula.

"The affected communities have been consistent of their strong opposition on the proposed mine projects. This is the third time they have consulted the people of Brooke's Point and again failed to get their social acceptability. It is unclear to us why they keep on re-conducting public consultations. Did they invalidate the previous consultations held in last year because they failed to get the social license they need? Perhaps, they would only accept consultations with favorable results to mining companies," said ELAC legal officer Atty. Edward Lorenzo.

"Moreover, the law itself prevents mining operations at Brooke's Point. Their mining operations encroach areas under maximum protection defined under the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (Republic Act 7611). Ninety per cent (90%) of the mining operations are situated in 'core zones' -- areas above 1,000 meters in elevation, virgin forests or primary growth forests, areas with steep gradient (above 50% slope), and critically threatened/endangered habitats and habitats of rare endangered species or habitats of Palawan local endemic species of flora and fauna", added Lorenzo.

"This is the first time that a joint public consultation was conducted in Palawan. There seems to be collusion between mining companies and DENR. They have chosen barangay Mambalot because they know that the barangay captain is their ally. They have chosen a very small venue for the consultation, which could not accommodate the huge number people who are mostly anti-mining. The inappropriate venue, exacerbated by the intense heat that day, has also caused discomfort to the public, which prevented the people from giving their 100% attention to the presentations. And to top it all, they even tactically served the snacks during the presentation of proponents so that people would be distracted," said Palawan NGO Network Incorporated advocacy officer Beth Maclang.

"Furthermore, more than 3,000 people attended the consultation. We fear that they will use this number to declare a successful consultation without taking into account the real stand of majority of people's strong opposition to mining. Aside from their mining claim falls in "core zone" area, which mining is not allowed, it appears that their proposed area for operation is inside the newly declared Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL). They should accept that majority of the people do not want mining. Brookes' Point is a first class municipality even without mining and depend on our agriculture and we are determined to protect our clean water and forested areas," added Maclang.

"They are trying to outsmart the people with their strategy of a joint public consultation, which was very confusing for the people. The conduct of a separate consultation is the more suitable process so that concerns of the people will be adequately addressed by each proponent," said Rev. Fr. Joseph Cacacha, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa.

"Moreover, they are obviously rushing the process because they are running out of time. The term of known pro-mining Mayor Cesareo R. Benito Jr. is about to end and these mining companies fear that they will have a more difficult time to get the social license they need and/or LGU support in the next administration," concluded Cacacha.

More than 2,000 strong anti-mining advocates from the indigenous peoples, farmers, women, youth and elderly from Barangays Ipilan, Maasin, Mambalot and Calasaguen in Brooke's Point, Palawan were present at the public consultation spearheaded by ALDAW Network, an advocacy-campaign network of Indigenous Peoples jointly constituted by NATRIPAL (United Tribes of Palawan) and BANGSA PALAWAN PHILIPPINES (Indigenous Alliance for Equity and Wellbeing), in cooperation of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, PNNI, ELAC and other environmental groups.

ATM is convened by HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center -- Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and Philippine Parntership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA).

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For more information:
Artiso A. Mandawa, ALDAW National Coordinator (0928) 203.09.08/(0905) 614. 56.31, matanggubat@gmail.com
Beth Mclang, PNNI Advocacy Officer, 0920-905-83-83, bethmclang@yahoo.com.ph
Datu Abdelwin Sangkula, Advocacy officer of ELAC, (0928) 341.36.11, datswin@hotmail.com
Atty. Edward Lorenzo, ELAC Legal Officer, (0908) 898.47.50, edward.lorenzo@yahoo.com
Rev. Fr. Joseph Cacacha, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, (0906) 604.49.02, jmcacacha@yahoo.com
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0915) 315.37.19, nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Roslyn Arayata, ATM Policy Officer (0917) 521.7937, policy@alyansatigilmina.net

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