Lakbayan in Socsksargends:

Peoples' March Against Large-Scale Mining and Human Rights Violations

 

Koronadal City

 

December 7 - 10,  2010

 

   

■      Mining for National Industrialization by Ricardo Saturay, Jr

 

   
   

■      Towards a People's Mining Policy by Clemente Bautista, Jr

 

   
   

■      Revisiting Rapu-rapu by Ricardo Saturay, Jr

 

   

 

 

■     BONUS TRACKS: In Mt. Diwalwal

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Photos courtesy of BAYAN Socsksargends
           
DAYS 1 - 2          
           
     
    Picket rally in front of SMI Main office
     

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December 7, 2010

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

BAYAN, KARAPATAN trooped down to MGB, Fuentes Residence

150 delegates kick-start four-day Lakbayan

 

Koronadal City - More than 150 delegates from Koronadal City trooped down to South Cotabato Provincial Sports Complex today to signal the four-day Lakbayan (Peoples’ March) Against Large-Scale Mining and Human Rights Violation in SOCSKSARGENDS Region.

 

Members from various cause-oriented groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, KARAPATAN and SOCSKSARGENDS-AGENDA marched from the Sports Complex to the Regional Office of Mines and Geosciences Bureau and held a short picket rally.

 

BAYAN Socsksargends Regional Spokesperson Ryan Lariba assailed the MGB for bowing down to the powerful Xstrata, an Australian-based multinational mining company. “The MGB has long been used by XSTRATA-SMI as its instrument to insure that they get the necessary requirements for its various mining projects in the Region,” asserted Lariba.

 

They then advanced to Daisy Avance-Fuente’s Congressional Office and held a short program. The group expressed its support to Fuentes and the Provincial Council who sponsored a Resolution banning Open-Pit Mining in South Cotabato, and condemned DILG’s Secretary Robredo who issued a memorandum contesting the legality of the said resolution. ###

 

Media Officer: Chava Villabona (09396127869)

March from Polomolok to Gensan public marke

March to Sulop, Davao del Sur

           
     
Norsam Wahabi, Sec-Gen, KARAPATAN Socsksargends.JPG ABS-CBN coverage at SMI Main office 2.
     

 

Metal spikes briefly halts caravan

BAYAN, KARAPATAN condemns harassment

 

Brgy. Batomelong, Gensan City - Two unidentified men aboard a motorcycle threw a bunch of suyak ( metal spikes) onto the approaching caravan of vehicles transporting the delegates of the four-day Peoples’ March Against Large-Scale Mining and Human Rights Violations just outside Brgy. Batomelong, General Santos City.

 

A witness who was seated at the front seat of the lead vehicle saw two men of medium built throwing something on the road and then hurriedly rode away from the scene aboard a motorcycle. The caravan suddenly went into a halt when four vehicles got flat tires. Upon investigation, it was found out that 4-inch spikes and nails caused the trouble.

 

Ryan Lariba, BAYAN-Socsksargends Spokesperson, said that it was “clearly intended for the caravan carrying more than 400 Lakbayan delegates.”

 

“These men clearly wanted to delay us, harass us. This is certainly not just another road accident. It was planned, it was politically-motivated,” Lariba added.

 

Before the accident, the caravan was stopped at a checkpoint at Brgy. Tinagacan, just a  few kilometers away from the spot where the spikes were thrown. From the first day of the Lakbayan, the caravan has been stopped at seven different checkpoints: Tampakan, twice in Tupi where the group picketed outside the 27th IB, Polomolok, and thrice in Gensan.

 

“The fact that the Lakbayan is enjoying the support of the people from the places we passed during our march, and the media coverage has been wide, are enough reasons for those people whom we condemned and protested - the 27th IB for its grim human rights record and SMI-XSTRATA for its continued plunder of our natural resources - to want to retaliate in any way they can. But we will not be deterred. We will keep on marching,” said KARAPATAN-Socsksargends Spokesperson Norsam Wahabi.

 

On its second day, the marching Lakbayan delegation from South Cotabato converged with the Gensan delegation at Crossing Makar at 8:30 in the morning and staged an hour-long program. The group then marched to SMI Main Office at the back of KCC Mall and staged another picket rally. The group too marched all over the city, bearing placards and shouting chants.

 

Tomorrow the Lakbayan delegates will continue to march to Malalag, Davao del Sur to stage a huge protest action against the SMI-XSTRATA’s planned construction of a 400 megawatt coal-fired power plant in the locality. ###

     
4-inch nail spikes thrown by two unidentified men onto the approaching caravan
           
     
Checkpoint 5, entering Gensan Checkpoint 6, exiting Gensan Checkpoint 7, brgy Tinagacan, Gensan
     
DAY 3    
     

 

DECEMBER 9, 2010

PRESS RELEASE

 

Anti-mining marchers advances to Davao del Sur

Group slams SMI-XSTRATA’s intrusion in the province 

 

Malalag, Davao del Sur – Already on its third day, the Peoples’ March Against Large-scale Mining and Human Rights Violations entered Davao del Sur today, taking a pit stop at Sulop, then marched to Malalag, the town where SMI-XSTRATA plans to build a coal-fired power plant.

 

About one thousand marchers bearing placards and shouting chants stirred up the sleepy town of Malalag. Before the group settled in the town’s public market to hold a program, a commotion took place when a police intelligence agent  slyly joined in the march and started taking pictures of the delegates. Marshalls of the Lakbayan quickly nabbed the intruder which almost provoked an altercation with the local police.

 

“If they want to take pictures of us, they should have approached our documentation team because we’re more than willing to share it with them,” said Norsam Wahabi of the group KARAPATAN. “You don’t order your men to penetrate into a crowd and pretend they are with the group. What was their objective, to scare us, to harass us?” added Wahabi.

 

Meanwhile, SOCSKSARGENDS-AGENDA Chairperson Domingo Billones condemned SMI-XSTRATA’s planned construction of a tailings pond in Kiblawan  and of a 400-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Sitio Babac, Malalag.

 

“All five towns of Malalag, Hagonoy, Sulop, Sta. Maria and Padada will be affected by the mineral wastes that will be dumped in the tailings pond in Kiblawan. Two main rice irrigations and 19 communal irrigations that provide water to more than three thousand hectares of rice fields will be polluted. If the toxic chemicals from the tailings pond will make its way to Malalag Bay through Padada River, the livelihood of more than 32,000 fisherfolks will be affected” asserts Billones.

 

“And so we plead to the people of the province to unite in protecting our environment. Once our rivers, mountains and our seas will be polluted and destroyed, the effects are irreversible, and our lives are at stake,” he added. Billones further challenged the local government units of the affected municipalities and the Provincial government to pass resolutions disallowing large-scale mining and construction of hazardous mining facilities.

 

The Peoples’ March will culminate tomorrow at Digos City, where a big rally will be staged to highlight the group’s celebration of the Human Rights Day. ###

 

Media officer: Chava Villabona (09396127869)

 

     
     
           
     
Rally at Malalag public market 3 As in past marches, rain is no obstacle to a march with a patriotic cause
     

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December 10, 2010

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Peoples’ March culminates in Digos City

Group challenges SMI-XSTRATA, AFP and P-noy to respect human rights

 

Digos City - After marching 147 kilometers in four days from Banga, South Cotabato to Digos City, Davao del Sur, the Peoples’ March Against Large-scale Mining and Human Rights Violations organized by BAYAN, KARAPATAN and SOCSKSARGENDS-AGENDA finally arrived at their final pit stop today to celebrate Human Rights Day at this city.

 

About one thousand marchers flooded the busy streets of Digos to protest SMI-XSTRATA’s intrusion in the province and the wide-spread human rights violations of the AFP in the region.

 

KARAPATAN-Socsksargends Chairperson Fr. Benedicto Bacalso condemned AFP’s continued implementation of Arroyo’s OPLAN BANTAY LAYA. “Despite Aquino’s open declaration that he will uphold human rights and that he will investigate the various human rights violations of the past administration, his AFP still follows the OPLAN BANTAY LAYA program whose only aim is to silence, harass and  kill those who dare to speak up in behalf of the oppressed. In our region alone, we have documented 62 cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the AFP this year,” said Fr. Bacalso.

 

On the other hand, Domingo Billones, Chairperson of SOCSKSARGENDS-AGENDA, reiterated its stand against SMI-XSTRATA’s intrusion in the province. “After the people of South Cotabato, Saranggani and General Santos City presented its strong opposition to SMI-XSTRATA’s operation in their localities, this powerful multinational mining company now wants to try its luck in Davao del Sur, hoping the people would be more accommodating.”

 

They have poured in a lot of money to bribe government officials, the AFP and the local police so that they would serve as their mouthpiece. They have promised livelihood and prosperity to the people of the province, but we will not be fooled. The great danger that SMI-XSTRATA pose to our environment, livelihood, health and our lives cannot be denied. We will oppose their operation in the province until we drive them away,” Billones asserted.

 

Ryan Lariba of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan - SOCSKSARGENDS meanwhile urged the Aquino administration to uphold human rights. “It is said that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’, but various facets of human rights continue to elude the Filipino people. Poverty hounds millions of Filipinos, basic social services remains at the bottom of our government’s priorities, our farmers don’t own the land they till, our workers don’t have enough pay. All these are symptoms of a society that is beset with the evils of neo-colonialism and semi-feudalism,” argued Lariba.

 

“President Aquino promised that he will lead our country and its people to a “daang matuwid”, and that we are his boss. But so far, this early in his presidency, what he has shown the people is that he is no better than the past administrations. He remains to be a puppet of US Imperialism, a fanatic of its neoliberal economic policies which is the main culprit of our country’s underdevelopment and our people’s poverty. And so it is but right that we challenge P-noy to uphold even the most basic aspects of human rights, none more basic than having three decent meals a day, roof over our heads, regular job that pays well, land to till that we can really call ours, and many more, ” Lariba added.

 

The demonstration ended with the symbolic smashing of an effigy depicting P-noy operating a bulldozer with the logos of SMI-XSTRATA and the AFP in it. ###

Bidlisiw cultural group
     
Solidaity program at IFI Church in Sulop, Davao del Sur
           
     
Nanay Dako of Gabriela Polomolok Pareng Tamba, spokesperson, KALUHAMIN Raised clecnhed fists while singing Awit ng Pag-asa
     
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Torch march from Lalag to Padada
     
           
DAY 4          
           

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Mining for National Industrialization

 

The mining industry is important to a country's economic development being a source of raw materials necessary for industrialization. With its abundant mineral resources, the Philippines has a vast potential to industrialize. This has yet to be realized due to the current economic thrusts of the government and the conditions in which the mining industry is being situated in our economy.
 
The Philippines is rich with mineral resources. We are among the world's top producers of copper, nickel, chrome, zinc, gold and silver. We have about 7.1 billion metric tons (BMT) of metallic deposits and 51 BMT of non-metallic deposits. As the government claims, the country's mineral wealth, valued to be from $840 billion to $1 trillion, is about ten times our GDP and 14-17 times our external debt. If judiciously used, these rich mineral resources can be geared to supply the basic needs of our nation to address the economy's backward, agrarian and pre-industrial state.
 
Copper is a good conductor of electricity and is used in electrical generators and motors, wiring, and in electronic goods. It also conducts heat well, so it is used in motor vehicle radiators, air-conditioners and home heating systems. It does not corrode easily and is malleable. Nickel is used to make stainless and heat-resisting steels for consumer and industrial applications. Think of your kitchen sink, cutlery, pots and pans, and appliances. There is a good chance that they are made of nickel-bearing stainless steel. Its corrosion resistance and high strength over a wide range of temperatures make nickel a natural choice for a growing list of applications as well as its use in rechargeable batteries.
 
Chromium is used to harden and manufacture stainless steel and other useful alloys. It is used in electroplating to produce a hard, beautiful surface to prevent corrosion. Gold, as well as silver, has traditionally been used in jewellery but it is used as coatings and electrical contacts in industry.
 
Mining activity in the Philippines can be classified into large- and small-scale mining. Although both have significant contributions to our nation's economy, large scale mining companies, particularly those with foreign equities, dominate the mining industry . Their dominance can partly be attributed to the capital-intensive and high-risk nature of large scale mining, which, at this point, only the above-mentioned companies outside the national government have the capacity to venture into.
 
Our current mineral production is export-oriented and not geared towards the needs of local industry. We extract minerals and export them with little or no processing mainly to answer the international demand, and not for our local needs and consumption. Yet as we export our cheap mineral ores and concentrates, we are importing high-value mineral products which lead to trade deficits. Although mineral exports have brought in dollar earnings, the industry remains overly dependent on the international market, where the prices of minerals are always fluctuating.
 
Mining in the Philippines remains essentially in the extractive stage. Capacity in smelting, refining and fabrication is very limited, characteristic of an industry that is not fully integrated and with no linkages with the manufacturing sector. Even decades after the influx of foreign mining capital, our mining industry was still mostly limited to exploration and extraction. The current industry still mainly employs relatively outdated technologies.
 
The export-oriented production of the industry leads to the extraction of voluminous minerals from our lands just to earn large profits for mining companies and their local partners. The negative impacts of this rapid extraction to the people and to the environment is often the least considered, if not sweepingly neglected.
 
Mining has been part of the historical development of societies. In the experience of industrialized nations, a prosperous mining industry is needed to supply the mineral demands of local industries and provide the basic needs of the people. Essential to achieve this is the nationalization of the mineral industry. Mining as a basic industry should be controlled by the state for the Filipino people unlike now where it is dominated and controlled by foreign corporations.
 
An integrated mining industry with well-developed extraction and downstream industries will enable us to independently produce the machinery, tools and consumers goods we need, to generate jobs for the people, as well as products for domestic use and international trading. In such a setting, our mineral production will be primarily driven not by the international market but by our nation's actual needs and demands.
 

Author: 

Mr. Ricarido Saturay, Jr.

Author Description: 

<p style="text-align: left;">Mr. Ric Saturay is the deputy Secretary General of AGHAM and is an instructor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences in UP Diliman. He topped the board exams for Geology in 2004.</p>

 

Church people join  march
     
March from Padada, Davao del Sur to Digos City
     
           
     
     
     

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Towards a People's Mining Policy

 

The Philippines harbors among the world's richest deposits of copper, nickel, chrome, zinc, gold and silver. However, these mineral resources are rapidly being depleted due to large-scale extraction by foreign corporations. This has left our ecology devastated and our citizens robbed of their livelihoods and future.
 
This unfolding tragedy should not be the case with mining. We believe that mining and a developed minerals industry plays a significant role in the attainment of a progressive, independent and self-reliant economy. It should be developed to support a self-reliant and progressive domestic economy that seeks a healthy balance between agriculture and industrialization to break the cycle of underdevelopment.
 
But the Philippine local mining industry remains an export-oriented and import-dependent industry. It caters not to domestic needs but to the demand of the international market for minerals as raw materials. It is mainly extractive with no plans to add substantial value through downstream processing, lacking integration with other basic indutrial needs of our country. These are the reasons why our people don't receive the maximum benefits from the mining industry despite the high level of mineral production in our country. Instead, only a few foreign transnational firms and a handful of the local elite dominate the industry and reap its benefits.
 
In response to this situation, the Defend Patrimony alliance, composed of environmental advocates, scientists, Church people, national minority groups and other sectors have developed a framework document to reorient the Philippine mining industry towards the road to genuine national industrialization and development. Entitled the People's Mining Policy, this document is continually being circulated for education and consultation among different societal sectors. Among its main principles are:
 
A nationalized mineral industry plays an essential role in establishing a progressive, independent and self-reliant economy.
 
With a reliable base of minerals vital to industrialization, the Philippines can achieve genuine development by wisely utilizing these resources as part of an alternative program for development. Foreign mining investments must be rigorously screened and strictly regulated. Capital accumulation and reinvestment within the country must be encouraged over profit repatriation by foreign companies. Building local downstream industries to process our mineral resources should also be prioritized to provide products that we can use to build further other domestic industries.
 
Mineral production and development should help in modernizing agriculture within the framework of genuine agrarian reform.
 
The mining industry should enhance the nation's capacity to achieve food security and self-sufficiency. The right quantities of minerals should be supplied in order to ensure the production of farm machineries, tools and infrastructure materials needed to increase efficiency in farming as well as reduce the strain on human labor. Prime agricultural lands and areas specified for food production must not be classified as mineral lands. Off-site effects of mining must not have disadvantageous effects on downstream areas.
 
Mining development shall be programmed in accordance with the availability of resources, without sacrificing the capability and well being of the people.
 
The level of mineral extraction and production should be based on the level of industrialization we wish to achieve, the needs of the agriculture sector, and the production of consumer goods. It should also consider the level of our technological development, the availability of mineral reserves and its impact on the environment.
 
Mining operations should be done only after democratic consultation and with the consent of the people in mining-affected communities and other stakeholders. The rights of indigenous peoples to self determination and ancestral domain must be recognized. Job security, living wages, working benefits, and favorable and safe working condition for mine workers must always be ensured for both state and privately-owned mining corporations.
 
Role of research and development in advancing the mining industry
 
Research and development must focus on harnessing a more economically efficient and less environmentally destructive minerals industry. Advanced technologies from other countries that are proven to be appropriate to local conditions may be adopted. Recycling programs and substitution in the use of minerals must be incorporated in the overall plan of mining development. Reduction of mine waste and pollution, and mining rehabilitation techniques must be among the focal points of research.
 
Mining operations and development must at all times guarantee environmental protection and safety
 
Mining will be done only after undergoing careful analysis and evaluation as to whether it is the best option for an area. At all stages of mining, environmental protection and development shall be guaranteed. Mining in high environmentally critical areas such as small island ecosystems, primary forests and watersheds shall be banned. The dumping of mine wastes and tailings in rivers, lakes and seas must be prohibited. ###
 
 

Author: 

Mr. Clemente Bautista, Jr.

Author Description: 

<p style="margin-bottom: 0cm; text-align: left;">Mr. Clemente Bautista Jr., a founding member of AGHAM, is also the coordinator of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), a national network of environmental organizations, NGOs, and people's formations.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0cm; text-align: left;"> </p>

 

     
     
     
     
     
           
     

Dominggo Billones, Chairperson,

SOCSKSARGENDS-AGENDA

Fr. Benedicto Bacalso,

Chairperson, KARAPATAN Socsksargends

Pastor Daniel Palicte, CPAIGC

 

 

 

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Melamine Poisoning: Tip of the Ice-Cream

 

Like many similar incidents in the past, the melamine poisoning scandal is just a symptom of a global food system characterised by corporate greed and government neglect.
 

The government tries to show it is addressing the problem by parading to the media hurriedly confiscated milk products while it downplays the dangers by echoing the corporate line that humans will have to ingest unrealistically huge volumes of contaminated milk to be poisoned.
Just as quickly, Nestle and other companies put out expensive ads proclaiming that their products are safe, even without undergoing the appropriate tests. These short-sighted and self-serving knee-jerk reactions do not protect the health of consumers but perpetuate the pathetic state of affairs as far as food safety is concerned.
 

Food safety has never been a serious concern of governments and corporations, particularly with the advent of globalization. Under the World Trade Organization rules, countries, especially weaker ones, could be forced to import food products that could be contaminated with toxic chemicals or substances. Any attempt to ban or restrict such harmful substances, even when these are already banned in other countries, is met with fierce resistance by corporate giants and their host countries. Such is the case, for example, for pesticides, artificial sweeteners and additives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and now melamine.
 

Melamine is a synthetic chemical used in a wide range of products such as kitchen dishes and utensils, furniture, cleaning agents, glues, fertilizers, and drugs. It is a byproduct of cyromazine, a triazine pesticide commonly used in vegetable and chicken farms. In 1987, it was shown to be present in coffee, orange juice, fermented milk and lemon juice, leaching from cups made of melamine resin. From 1979 to1987, there was widespread melamine contamination of fish and meat meal in Italy and in 2004, there was a nephrotoxicity (kidney damage) outbreak in pets in Asia. Thousands of cats and dogs, mostly in the US, became seriously ill or died of acute renal failure after eating melamine contaminated pet food in 2007. Hogs, chicken and fish were also found to be similarly contaminated.
 

Cyanuric acid is a common disinfectant used in swimming pools together with chlorine. It is used as an ingredient in herbicides and in the production of melamine and sponge rubber. It is also an intermediate chemical in the bacterial degradation of melamine and in bleach and whitening agents production. Trichloromelamine is the chlorinated form of melamine mainly used as a disinfectant and cleaning agent.
 
Melamine may cause adverse reproductive effects, may affect genetic material and may cause bladder cancer, based on animal data. It may also cause skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation and irritation of the digestive tract with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and may damage the urinary system. However, cyanuric acid and trichloromelamine have greater toxicity potential in causing kidney damage, developmental toxicity and cancer.
 

By themselves, based on standard risk assessments, melamine and cyanuric acid are considered to be of low acute toxicity. However, multiple sources and multiple chemical exposures is the more likely exposure situation from these chemicals and should be the basis for assessing risks to human health. Other compounds, such as herbicides structurally and toxicologically similar to these compounds, must also be considered.
 

Much can already be said about the potential harm these chemicals pose to animals and humans. The mechanism of renal toxicity of melamine and cyanuric acid is well established and that acute or chronic exposure could lead to renal failure. Existing empirical and scientific data indicate that it is likely at present circumstances to reach exposure levels sufficient to cause harm. The European Food Safety Authority, despite conservative risk assessment methodologies, said: “in worst case scenarios with the highest level of contamination, children with high daily consumption of milk toffee, chocolate or biscuits containing high levels of milk powder would exceed the TDI (tolerable daily intake)”. This does not even consider cyanuric acid in swimming pools, melamine from pesticides and contaminated vegetables, fish and meat, and leachate from kitchen wares. With milk products from China already banned in Europe at the time of the assessment, the said worst case scenario did not even consider potential sources from milk and ice cream!
 

The extent of harm that melamine and related compounds have caused is not clear at this time but simply confiscating products will not solve the problem. Government officials should not downplay the dangers of contamined with toxic chemicals. Mechanisms for appropriate monitoring and timely intervention should be established. Food safety should be placed high in the political agenda and greed, corporate and otherwise, eliminated. Safe food should be put in the hands of the people!###
 

Author: 

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Author Description: 

<p style="text-align: left;"> </p> <pre style="text-align: left;">Dr. Romeo Quijano is a member of AGHAM and is a Professor at the<br />Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the College of Medicine,<br />University of the Philippines Manila.</pre> <p style="text-align: left;"> </p>

Ryan Lariba, BAYAN Socsksargends
 
Symbolic smashing of effigy depicting Pnoy operating buldozer
     
           
     

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Revisiting Rapu-rapu

 

The announcement of the ongoing test operations of the Rapu-Rapu mine in Albay prior to its planned reopening next week makes us revisit the findings of the Rapu-Rapu Fact Finding Commission (RRFFC) on the mine spills that occurred nearly three years to this date. The mine is now under the majority control of Korean Resources, Incorporated (KORES) and LG International Corporation together with the Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd. The Rapu-Rapu mine was briefly reopened after the mine spill on February 2007 but was again closed after typhoon damage in late 2007.
 
A major issue raised by the RRFFC is the ability to control acid mine drainage (AMD) in the mine. Acid mine drainage is outflow of acidic water from rocks and overburden as part of the rock weathering process. The weathering process is exacerbated by large-scale earth disturbances from mining activities exposing rocks to oxygen and it usually occurs within rocks containing an abundance of metal sulfides. AMD can also be accelerated by colonies of bacteria that occur naturally in such conditions. In his introduction to the commission's report, the vice-chairman of the RRFFC Charles Avila noted that AMD is tantamount to “mining's multibillion-dollar environmental time bomb”.
 
The RRFFC pointed out that the subaquaeous deposition which the previous company has adopted has been proven successful in large mines in flat terrain but is not generally used in hilly terrains such as the steep slope found in Rapu-Rapu. They further pointed out that in a hilly terrain, the slope and rapid flow of fluids are too great to achieve stagnant oxygen-free conditions. As such, subaquaeous deposition may be counterproductive and actually enhance the production and leaching of acid products.
 
The RRFFC also found fault and inadequacy with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Environmental Compliance Certifcate (ECC) of the previous mine operator Lafayette Philippines Incorporated (LPI). They also pointed that LPI failed to answer apprehensions relating to AMD, its effects on the Rapu-Rapu environment and the people’s health and the natural hazards of mining extremely prone in the small island ecosystem. Furthermore, the comission found that 12 of the 29 conditionalities in the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) were found violated by the LPI Group. Have KORES and the LG Corp. already addressed the problems raised by the RRFFC in the EIS and ECC of LPI?
 
The problem of having an open pit mine in a small island ecosystem is also an important point raised by the RRFFC. The commission said that the tailings incidents in 2005 and their consequences are a result of the LPI failing to consider the characteristics of a small island ecosystem in their environmental hazard prevention and mitigation strategies as well as in their mining design and operations. This failure to address cumulative impacts of an environmentally critical project should have been already a ground for revocation of ECC, the commission pointed out.
 
In addition, the commission also noted the fact that during the lifetime of the Rapu-Rapu mine, the most that the government will get is its share in the MPSA. This is in the form of excise tax that is two percent (2%) both in the case of (a) copper and other metallic products and (b) gold and chromite. But with the tax breaks in the Mining Act of 1995 and the PEZA Law incentives, the Philippines stand to forgo at least 60.8% (or USD 12.45 million) over the expected life of the mine leaving only around P413.5 million collectible in favor of the Philippine government.
 
The polymetallic project’s social acceptability was also raised in the commission's report. In the ECC of the project, issues of the fragile nature of Rapu-Rapu’s island ecosystem, the potential for acid mine drainage (AMD) and the torrential rain weather pattern in the area were raised. Until now, these same objections are still being raised by community organizations such as Sagip-Isla and Umalpas-Ka and concerned environmental organizations opposing the mine.
 
Several of the recommendations of the RRFFC remain unheeded: to set up a fund for the compensation of health victims and rehabilitation of the impacts of mine operations, the cancellation of the PEZA registration and the ECC of the mine, the investigation by the BIR of the Lafayette group and the review of the provisions of the Philippine Mining Act 1995 specifically on the ownership and management of mining firms and operations.
 
With these lessons clearly spelled out in the RRFFC report, it makes us all wonder if the DENR has learned from it or is it wantonly ignoring the report to the detriment of the people of Rapu-Rapu and our country?
 

Author: 

Mr. Ricarido Saturay, Jr.

Author Description: 

<pre style="text-align: left;">Mr. Ric Saturay is the deputy Secretary General of AGHAM and is an<br />instructor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences in UP<br />Diliman. He topped the board exams for Geology in 2004.</pre>

 

     
     
     
           

BONUS TRACKS

In Mt. Diwalwal

   

Residents of Mt. Diwalwal and members of Panalipdan and BAYAN in Julyl staged a protest in front of the Philippine Mining Development Corporation against the plan of a big company to operate a large scale open-pit mining.

Photos courtesy of Karlos Manlupig

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