'Green Flag' National Day of Action
on the 19th Year of the Mining Act of 1995
to protest BSAquino's Mining Liberalization Policies

 

Protest rally by Indug Kautawan

Mendiola

 

March 3, 2014

 

 

     
   
 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
03 March 2014

‘Green Flag’ national day of action marks anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995

Protests across PH call for revocation of Aquino’s mining liberalization policies, cancellation of destructive mining projects

On the 19th anniversary of the passage of RA 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995, nationally-coordinated actions across the Philippines were launched today to call for the revocation of Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s current mining liberalization policies and projects.

Dubbed as a ‘Green Flag Day of Action against Large-scale Mining,’ protest caravans, marches, ecumenical activities and forums in Metro Manila, Ilocos, Baguio, Cagayan Valley and Davao, among others, will brandish green flags bearing calls for the stoppage of big mining projects and mining liberalization policies that have caused massive land grabbing, environmental destruction and human rights violation.

“19 years after its passage and a decade after its unconstitutionality was subverted by corporate greed, the Mining Act of 1995 remains in place and continues to open up our lands and resources to the unfettered plunder of transnational mining corporations. Pres. BS Aquino’s Executive Order 79 further reinforced the wholesale of our mineralized lands and has done nothing to arrest the growing incidents of environmental destruction, land-grabbing and human rights violations,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

EO 79 was criticized for its provision, among others, that ‘harmonized’ all environmental and governance policies to be in line with existing mining policies. The provision is currently being used as basis for the Aquino government’s dispute of a long-standing environmental code by the South Cotabato local government banning the use of the open-pit mining method, which is currently preventing the mine development of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore-Xstrata.

The various investment guarantees and auxiliary rights granted by RA 7942, such as the provision of timber, water and easement rights, have been the constant basis for mining companies for the diversion of water sources, massive forest clearing and the demolition and displacement of peasant and small-scale communities.

“You can witness the destruction caused by Aquino’s mining regime throughout the entire life of mine process in the province of Nueva Vizcaya alone. Mine exploration activities of the Royalco company have spurred human rights violations, including militarization and harassment law suits. FCF Minerals’ mine development has diverted water away from communities and demolished the homes of indigenous small-scale miners. Oceana Gold’s commercial operations have caused the massive siltation in its adjacent rivers, reduced the productivity of surrounding agricultural lands, and exploited its workers with low wages and lack of benefits,” noted Bautista.

Data recorded by the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders have noted that the militarization of mining-affected communities under Aquino’s mine investment defense policies have resulted in at least 30 victims of politically-motivated killings, 4 cases of frustrated murder, and 27 victims of strategic lawsuits against public participation or SLAPPs.

Bautista said the current policies not only caused destruction and rights violations during the operations of mines, but also encouraged the abandonment of unrehabilitated mines. The decade-long case of the Marinduque people filed against Marcopper mining corporation, now owned by Canadian-owned Barrick Gold, for causing one of the country’s most severe mine spill disasters, was almost settled with a P20-million ‘take it or leave it’ deal that would have exonerated the company from causality. South Korean-owned Rapu-Rapu Minerals, which concluded its eight-year mining contract in the island of Rapu-Rapu in Albay, attempted to leave without implementing the rehabilitation provision of its contract.

“The attempts of Rapu-Rapu Minerals and Marcopper-Barrick Gold to skirt their responsibilities in rehabilitating their mine sites upon closure belie the claims of the mining industry lobby and national government that the mine operations in the country are socially and environmentally responsible. Let us also not forget how Philex Mining Corporation has weaseled its way out of its 20-million metric-ton tailings disaster last 2012 but has not fully rehabilitated Balog and Agno River and has not fully compensated all downstream communities they affected,” added Bautista.

Bautista said the various Green Flag Day actions across the country united in their calls for the repeal of both the Mining Act of 1995 and EO 79. He said that a new people’s mining policy should be ratified in order to reorient the mining industry towards ensuring needs-based utilization, environmental safety and people’s welfare in the objective of ensuring genuine land reform, agricultural modernization and national industrialization.###

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator – Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) – 0922 844 9787
 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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Commentary:
Enough of Excuses, Theatrics from the Aquino Gov't and the Mining Industry

This past week, the mining industry has been given massive publicity through the extensive coverage of the Mining Philippines 2012 Conference organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP), and through the various tirades of Philex Mining Corporation chair Manny V. Pangilinan. They have spoken of two of their common refrains: the exhortation of so-called responsible mining practices circumscribed in the tenets of the Mining Act of 1995, and the great loss in economic development and people’s welfare caused by regulatory provisions in Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s latest mining policy, the Executive Order 79.

We in the Defend Patrimony Alliance against Mining Liberalization believe otherwise.

On the first point: it is understandable for CoMP and other mining lobbyists to pour billions of pesos into the branding of responsible mining which is essentially greenwashing, or public relations gimmickry to cover up environmental crimes. It is notable, for instance, that companies investing heavily in media publicity such as Philex, Taganito Mining Corporation and the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation are the ones publicly exposed to have degraded their surrounding ecosystems:

In 2011, the GMA News documentary “Pilipinas Not For Sale” exposed the heavy siltation of water rivers and coastal waters in Surigao, including nearby marine protected areas, which severely affected the fisheries and health of nearby villages; In 2012, an investigation conducted by FoE-Japan revealed that the Togupon River, in which excess tailings in Rio Tuba’s dam is released, had hazardous levels of hexavalent chromium, a toxic and carcinogenic chemical; Just this August to September, Philex’ Padcal Mines in Benguet had at least four dam failures, releasing at least 20 million metric tons of waste into the Balog Creek. A team of hydrologists in San Roque Dam reported that these tailings were monitored in their dam’s outflow.

On the second point: It is a tired, old refrain to claim that opposition to the current mining regime is diametrically opposed to development. In fact, the current mode of mining is condemning our national economy into import dependence and a permanent fiscal crisis. Pangilinan and CoMP’s denouncement of the provision in EO 79’s implementing rules and regulations decreasing mine contract life to 25 years maximum obscures a multitude of contentious provisions in EO 79 that they are silent about, if not supportive of:

Despite a moratorium on new mining agreements, EO 79 has revalidated all existing 32 mine projects and 659 mining agreements despite clear violations of laws on the environment and social acceptability, including corporations with track records of environmental crimes; It has strengthened the various fiscal and non-fiscal guarantees and auxiliary rights granted by the Mining Act of 1995, the current mining policy that promotes the mainly extractive and plunderous mining of foreign, large-scale mining corporations; It contains no clear program for national industrialization and agricultural modernization, the EO 79’s provisions on developing downstream industries and other value-adding activities are reduced to mere tokenism; It seeks to override local government autonomy in managing their environment and natural resources, especially aiming to clip the powers of local government to pass ordinances that ban destructive large-scale mining in their areas.

These are just a few of the contentious provisions that serve as concrete basis for the revocation of EO 79 in its entirety, not just its regulatory provisions. This farce that the Aquino government and the so-called responsible miners are playing will lead into the same crooked path that will eventually water down any remaining legal protection the environment and the people have against destructive mining.

Pangilinan’s theatrics, especially his ‘parting of ways’ with the Ateneo de Manila University for its stand on large-scale mining, cannot fool the people into thinking that he and other mining plunderers are the victims. Likewise, Pangilinan and his Philex cannot cite force majeure in the recent series of dam failures – the Philippines experienced greater floods and rainfall before, and this should have been considered in constructing and improving their facilities. Philex has caused at least four major incidences of dam failures in their operations since 1992.

No more excuses. If these so-called responsible miners and the mining apologist Aquino government are sincere in calling for a mining industry that will espouse national development, poverty reduction and environmental safety, it should make three urgent legislative actions.

First, there should be an immediate moratorium on large-scale mining operations in the country. Second, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 must be repealed. Then the passage of a new mining policy must be urgently pushed. The People’s Mining Bill, a comprehensive and progressive legislation that would reorient the mining industry towards greater state regulation and support for a genuine Filipino mining industry, is one of the alternative mining bills in Congress that the government could heed.###

Reference: Mr. Leon Dulce Spokesperson, Kalikasan Partylist Convener, Defend Patrimony 0917 562 6824
 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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National fact-finding and solidarity mission on mining TNCs in Nueva Vizcaya unearths realities of poison, plunder
PRESS RELEASE
21 September 2013

The National Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission (NFSSM) led by the Defend Patrimony! alliance and the Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayanos para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK) have discovered a pandora’s box of ecological destruction and resource plunder across three big mining companies in Nueva Vizcaya province. Massive biodiversity loss, water pollution, and human rights violations were observed in the indigenous peoples and peasant communities affected by foreign mining corporations Oceana Gold and FCF Minerals.

“Based on the initial investigation we conducted, we surmise that the main river in Barangay Didipio where Oceana Gold releases their mining effluents is biologically dead. In our scoping study, we observed the foul stench, the thick, orange-brown siltation and the disappearance of aquatic resources. Water snails, shrimps, carp, mud fish and other local species that used to populate the river, according to locals, have all disappeared,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and lead of the environmental scoping team on Oceana Gold gold mining operation.

Bautista said that the water pollution in Didipio have reached other barangays and communities in Qurino province. The Didipio River merges with Diduyon River which traverses the Quirino province. The local residents also reported the reduction of frog populations and the increase of the mosquito population in the communities, the former along with fishes are known natural biological regulators of mosquitos. The Fact-finding team said the biological imbalance could threaten nearby communities in Brgy. Didipio with an outbreak of dengue and other insect-borne diseases.

According to Luis Paulino, a local resident from Barangay Alimit in the municipality of Kasibu, “small-scale miners and other folk who have been exposed to the waters where Oceana Gold’s tailings flow have consistently experienced itching and inhaled squalid odors. Rare wildlife such as makawa (local deer), hagiit (wild boars) and kalaw (hornbills) that we used to see in our forests can no longer be seen. This started when Oceana Gold started to clear our forest, blast our mountains and excavate our lands.”

Runruno: another Didipio in the making

Meanwhile, the scoping team in Barangay Runruno where the Runruno Gold and Molybdenum project of FCF Minerals is currently in the mine development stage called the current environmental impacts as ‘another Didipio in the making, following in the polluter giant’s footsteps.’

“Similar to Oceana Gold’s mine development stage, waterways have either decreased in both flow and volume or have completely dried up, while some ‘dead creeks’, as locals put it, have suddenly strengthened most likely due to deliberate water diversion. We also observed signs of decreased water quality, including signs of chemical contamination and increased turbidity in comparison to observed unaffected rivers that will likely impact on the irrigation, potable water supply and sanitation of communities. This was most apparent in Sulong River, where residents noted the disappearance of paco (ferns) and other riverside flora as well as a decrease in productivity and stunted growth of fisheries,” said Dr. Chito Medina, national coordinator of the peasant-scientist group MASIPAG and lead expert of the scoping team on FCF Minerals.

The groups also noted the destruction of rice fields, citrus plantations and other cultivated lands alongside homes and properties in all affected barangays by both the Australian-owned Oceana Gold and British-owned FCF Minerals.

According to Fr. Vicente Tiam, chair of the mission’s lead organizer group Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANNVIK), “the findings of the mission is a clarion call for justice on the crimes committed by mining TNCs to the people and the environment of Nueva Vizcaya. The operations of Oceana Gold and FCF Minerals are in clear conflict with the declaration of the Magat River Forest Reserve as a Permanent Forest Reserve in which more or less 97 percent of Nueva Vizcaya is included.”

“These projects were granted under the auspices of the Mining Act of 1995 and more likely further reinforced by Pres. Benigno Aquino’s Executive Order 79 that may serve as basis for the overriding of local and national environmental policies. The realities unearthed by the NFSSM are an indictment on the current mining policy regime. There is a need to investigate the environmental damage done by large-scale mining in Nueva Vizcaya. The local and national governments should look into the violations and these polluters should be held accountable,” ended Leon Dulce, spokesperson of the Defend Patrimony! Alliance.###

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

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From Cagayan to Metro Manila:
People’s calls for stoppage of destructive black sand mining reach halls of Congress, Malacañang
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
17 September 2013

More than a hundred members from various people’s organizations in Cagayan province travelled to Metro Manila last Monday to bring their calls for the stoppage of destructive magnetite mining (also known as black sand) projects in the province to the halls of Congress and Malacañang Palace. The residents under the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan (FEAC) were joined by the national groups Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Defend Patrimony! Alliance against Mining Liberalization and Plunder, Taripnong-Cagayan Valley and the Lakas ng Kabataan para sa Bayan-Cagayan Valley (Lakbay CV), among others.

“At least 53,684 hectares of coastal lands and foreshore areas in Cagayan are covered by magnetite mining operations that have over time caused the erosion of their northern coastline and the riverbanks of the Cagayan River. Studies and scientific investigations of magnetite mining areas in the province have concluded that black sand mining operations, regardless of legality, contributed to the depletion of fisheries, salt water and chemical intrusion into the freshwater table, and worsened flooding in coastal and riverside communities,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

An Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) conducted by the Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines alongside various advocacy and sectoral groups on four municipalities of Cagayan Province from September 18-19, 2010 concluded that observed magnetite mining operations along the Cagayan River in the municipalities of Camalaniugan, Lal-lo and Aparri worsened flooding due to bank erosion. The same was observed in the magnetite mining-affected coastal communities in the municipalities of Gonzaga and Aparri because of the destruction of sand dunes and the disruption of the coastal sediment budget. The EIM also concluded that magnetite mining contributed to the depletion of fisheries supply, noting observations of locals that fresh water mollusk known locally as Unnok and fish locally known as Ludung were reported to have drastically decreased in supply post-mining.

This was reconfirmed in a 2012 Environmental and Social Risk Appraisal led by Kalikasan PNE last September 8-10, 2012 where fish kills were reported by local fisher folk in the Buguey Lagoon where 50 percent of their local Malaga cultures perished between January and February 2012. The ESRA also noted that 7 out of the 9 barangays they surveyed had varying reports of salt water intrusion, foul odor and discoloration and chemical contamination of deep wells and other fresh water supplies, affecting the potable water supply and the agricultural land and crop quality in the affected areas.

“Thousands of our fellow Cagayanons and no less than Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg have joined our long-standing calls for the revocation of all black sand mining permits in Cagayan. We brought our demands before the Malacanang’s Cagayan Black Sand Mining Task Force, to which they promised an immediate investigation and stoppage of magnetite mining operations in the area. The people of Cagayan will remain vigilant and will hold Pres. Benigno Aquino III accountable for his office’s promises,” said Isabelo Adviento, spokesperson of local peasant group Alliance of Farmers in Cagayan (Kagimungan), a member organization of FEAC.

“The local Mines and Geosciences Bureau office in Cagayan have ongoing operations to remove magnetite mining operations within the prohibited area 200 meters from the shoreline. But those that have been impacting on our livelihoods and safety are actually legal mines given permission by MGB and local governments, such as such as the Lutra Inc., Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Co. and San You Philippines Mining Ltd. Inc. Some of these were just recently given renewed permits to operate, and we find it incredible how these operations pass the requirements of MGB and LGUs,” asserted Adviento.

The Cagayanons trooped today to the House of Representatives to gather support for their calls, and to support legislative initiatives contributing to their campaign against magnetite mining in the province. Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate co-authored House Resolution 300, directing the House Committee on Ecology to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the magnetite mining operations’ ecological impacts, as well as suspend or stop magnetite mining operations while the review is ongoing.

“The impacts of magnetite mining operations in Cagayan Province are an indictment on the country’s flawed mining policies. Despite the passage of PNoy’s Executive Order 79, the scourge of magnetite mining remained unaddressed – some hide behind small-scale mining permits despite using large-scale machinery and equipment, while others are actual Mineral Production Sharing Agreements legitimized by the Mining Act of 1995. Let us not forget how the Nicua Magnetite MPSA in Leyte caused massive fish kills last year, a disaster waiting to happen in Cagayan unless we put a stop to it,” the Defend Patrimony said in a statement.

Defend Patrimony alongside the other national formations also called for support to House Bill 171 or the People’s Mining Bill, which Bayan Muna Rep. Zarate filed to promote environmental safety and the reorientation of the mining industry towards domestic, needs-based economic development.###
 

     
     
           
     
     
     
     
 
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Kalikasan fears more land grabs, disasters from big mines Picket protest at miners’ conference call for justice and accountability in mining industry

PRESS RELEASE 10 September 2013

A picket protest led by the Defend Patrimony! Alliance against Mining Liberalization and Plunder (Defend Patrimony) and the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) was held today in front of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in time for the opening of a mining confab organized by the industry lobby group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP), highlighting the worsening global mining crisis, unabated and unaddressed mining-related human rights violations, and mining disasters in the country.

“The gold market ‘bubble’ and the slowdown of the China-driven demand for metals that we have predicted years ago have come into fruition and is the current crisis large-scale miners are buzzing about. This is precisely the problem when mining regimes are developing mines with an export and profit-driven production instead of a domestic needs-based one. That is why the promise of jobs and revenue generation by the large-scale mining industry is always on shaky ground – now we are seeing the retrenchment of workers and closure or suspension of mining operations nationwide,” the Defend Patrimony said in a statement.

“Foreign and big mining companies, to cope with the ongoing global mining crisis, are now intensifying land grabbing of mineral areas and extraction of mineral wealth, while at the same time lowering production expenses. These actions will result to more environmental destruction, human rights violations, and exploitation of mine workers,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Defend Patrimony cited market studies in pointing out that the net profit in the global minerals industry went down by 49 percent in 2012 despite a 6-percent increase in overall production volumes, and the projected capital spending in 2013 went down by 21 percent to USD 110 billion. China continues to dominate the demand side of the market, consuming 40 percent of global metal production, but is now faced with a continuing slowdown in the Chinese economy. In the Philippines, Anglo-Swiss mining firm Glencore Xstrata-SMI recently announced the 85 percent downsizing of its work force, including 300 regular and project employees and 620 contract workers. The Philex Petroleum Corporation owned by big businessman Manny V. Pangilinan also shut down its coal mine in Zamboanga because of high operational costs and negative profits. Oceana Gold Corporation, owner of the Didipio Gold Mining project in Nueva Vizcaya, has totally shut down their gold mining project in New Zealand after losing more than US$70 million and retrenching around 300 mine workers.

The CoMP’s conference aimed to discuss developments in domestic policy reforms and the trends in the global minerals market. It specifically aims to tackle the Malacanang proposal of rationalizing the industry’s fiscal regime, to which the CoMP has proposed alternative revenue-sharing measures.

“While the Aquino government and the large-scale miners are set to discuss over who gets the lion’s share in the trillion-dollar mining industry’s revenues, the impacts on the environment and people’s rights have been eased out of the discussion. The spate in mining-related killings and other human rights violations and outstanding cases of mining disasters were met with either glossy greenwashing or outright silence,” said Bautista.

“Case in point, Philex’s Padcal mine has up to now cleaned up 1,000,000 metric tons or only five percent of the total amount of toxic mine tailings that spilled from their outdated dam facilities last year. Philex has in fact refused point-blank to pay the P6.42-billion demanded by the National Power Corporation for the rehabilitation of the affected San Roque Dam. It can only be concluded that big mines are unwilling to pay environmental and social costs they entailed to protect their profits in these times of crisis,” Bautista noted.

Defend Patrimony cited data from the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED) indicated that mining-related murders make up 76.47 percent of the total recorded killings of environmental advocates under the Aquino government. The latest was the murder of B’laan chieftain and staunch opponent to Xstrata-SMI Anting Freay and his son, Victor, last August 23 at the hands of paramilitary troops under the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Task Force KITACO. His wife, Kiit Freay, survived the attack. Bryan Epa , an anti-mining activist in Nueva Vizcaya, was also the latest victim of enforced disappearance when he was illegally arrested by the local Philippine National Police last August 21 and has not been seen ever since.

“Glencore Xstrata-SMI has only recently admitted to funding paramilitary groups operating in their mining concession areas, which are the primary culprits in the various incidences of human rights violations in mining-affected areas in Mindanao and across the Philippines. These are the trends that the Aquino government and the Chamber of Mines should be addressing, but again the controversies are met with blanket denial or silence,” Defend Patrimony lamented.

The picketing groups called for the immediate pullout and demobilization of all military and paramilitary troops from mining areas and the immediate filing of criminal charges against military, paramilitary, police and security forces with track records of killings and human rights violations. Finally, they called for the passage of the People’s Mining Bill, a progressive policy on large-scale mining that seeks to reorient the industry towards domestic economic development, genuine environmental safety and a needs-based extraction.###

Campaign: Defend Patrimony!

 

     
           
     
     
     

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2012 Philippine Mining Situation: Intensified Plunder, Intensified Struggles

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In its second year of governance, the administration of Benigno Simeon Aquino III has continuously pursued the path of mining liberalization. Mining transnational corporations (TNCs) and their local Philippine counterparts are now rushing to cash in on rising metal prices after the global financial crisis, aiming to reach their target investment of $1.44 billion in 2011 and $1.22 billion in 2012.

The Aquino administration continues to protect these investments and reinforce the extractive, export-oriented and import-dependent nature of the mining industry. Mining operations were exempted from the current log ban. The practice of using military and paramilitary groups to protect mining firms during the Arroyo administration continues. More mineral areas are being reserved exclusively for mining operations, overriding any pre-existing land uses. The administration is crafting a new mining policy that is superficial at best and essentially similar to the existing policy.

The government vilifies movements and local governments opposing the entry of destructive mining operations in their jurisdictions, dismissing these as anti-mining and therefore anti-development. It favors the liberalization of the industry, blaming small-scale miners for environmental destruction. It projects large-scale mining operations as highly-regulated while downplaying their environmental and social impacts. It remains silent on its crimes against affected grassroots communities.

However, 2011 was also a year of the people's rising struggle against mining plunder. Advocates used the Writ of Kalikasan and other legal remedies against erring companies. Mobilizations were launched and broader alliances were forged to oppose the current mining law and large-scale projects. Proposed alternatives to Republic Act 7942 (Mining Act of 1995) were filed in Congress. Spontaneous and organized armed resistance to mining has grown more daring and larger in scale.

This update for 2012 seeks to discuss these growing contradictions in the mining industry, the global crisis of mining liberalization and how it is manifested in our local and national experiences. In sharing the lessons of different communities, groups, and sectors in engaging mining corporations, the government, and other players, this publication hopes to help continuing efforts to resist imperialist plunder and reorient the mining industry towards long-term domestic development, protection of the people’s welfare, and the wise management of our minerals and ecosystems.

The complete print version of the 2012 Philippine Mining Situation is currently for sale. To inquire regarding orders, contact the Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines through info(at)cecphils(dot)org or call +632 929 9099.
 

     
           
     
     
     

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THREE YEARS OF PNOY'S PLUNDER IS ENOUGH!
Resist the policy of environmental destruction and pollution under the US-Aquino regime!

Statement on the State of the Nation Address of Pres. Benigno Aquino III 12 July 2013

The first half Pres. Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III's term has already elapsed, and we have continued to witness how our environment and natural resources continue to be polluted, destroyed and plundered by transnational corporations (TNCs) and local big business elites. The United States-backed government of PNoy has fully bared its economic and environmental master plan of opening up our lands, seas and the rest of our national patrimony to foreign investors and their local big compradors.

Intensified foreign, large-scale mining Foreign large-scale mining corporations such as Xstrata-SMI in South Cotabato and Oceana Gold Philippines have recently been given go signals despite long-standing warnings from scientific experts and massive opposition from indigenous people and other grassroots communities, churches, environmental groups and even local governments.

Philex Mining Corporation caused the largest mining disaster in the country's history last year as it spilled 20 million metric tons of waste into Agno River, resulting in the biological death of Balog River, one of its tributaries. Almost a year after, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has allowed the resumption of its commercial operations.

PNoy approved Executive Order 79 or the Mining EO in 2012 amidst a sea of criticism that it served only to strengthen the onerous Mining Act of 1995. The policy served only to reiterate the wholesale of our mineral wealth to foreign TNCs, undermine bans or regulations by local governments, and keep the unfair revenue-sharing schemes and the militarization in mining untouched.

Impacts of US-China regional maneuverings The race for territorial dominance in the Asia-Pacific between US and China has driven an influx of vessels and other military personnel in our territory, and it has greatly impacted on our fragile environment. The MT Glenn Guardian, a tanker serving under a US Navy service contractor, dumped over 190,000 liters of hazardous domestic waste and toxic bilge water in Subic Bay last October.

Early this year, the US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground the Tubbataha Reef Natural Marine Park, a world heritage site and important marine ecosystem, destroying 2,345 square meters of 10 meter-deep coral reefs that are estimated to have taken 2,500 years to grow to its original state and conservatively valued at US$1.4 million. Not long after, a Chinese poaching vessel, the Min Yong Lu, also ran aground and destroyed an 3,902 square meters.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, port calls and military exercises by nuclear submarines and other Navy vessels and military personnel in the Philippines have become more regular, and in areas in close proximity to important marine protected areas. This will only worsen with US president Barack Obama's strategic pivot of his wars of aggression to Asia-Pacific, promising to reposition 60 percent of its naval forces to the region by 2020 with the driving purpose of challenging China's regional presence.

Coal and climate change The latest in a growing trend of climate change-driven extreme weather events, Typhoon Pablo hit Southern Mindanao last December 3, 2012 and resulted in more than a thousand deaths, over 800 missing, and more than 700,000 affected families. One billion and fifty million dollars ($1.05) worth of infrastructural and agricultural damages were reported, greatly aggravated by large-scale mining, agricultural plantations and other forms of development aggression. Unnaturally strong monsoon rains early August last year submerged 90 percent of Metro Manila in massive floods. It also triggered the mine spills of Philex in Benguet and of Citinickel in Southern Palawan.

Despite these clear impacts of climate change, the government has currently approved 16 additional coal-fired power plants, the biggest contributor to global GHG emissions and an emitter of toxic heavy metals and other harmful chemicals as well. Coal consumption is driven by foreign and private interests as prescribed in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 or EPIRA, as 73.59 percent of it came from imports and all existing coal plant projects are owned by private corporations.

Reclamation on the rise A petition for a Writ of Kalikasan filed last year against the P14-billion, 635-hectare reclamation joint venture of the Philippine Reclamation Authority and the Cyber Bay Corporation was dismissed by the Court of Appeals last April 26. Reclamation, touted as the most irreversible form of environmental degradation, is expected to result in aggravated flooding, reduced ecological services, loss of habitat to marine and bird species and loss of livelihood for people and community.

The reclamation project will cover and affect the Las Piñas–Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), a 175-hectare mangrove and mudflat expanse that serves as a bird sanctuary recently added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. It is the last mangrove forest in Metro Manila.

Environmentalists: an endangered species Environmental advocates who have opposed destructive projects by TNCs and the government were met with increasingly frequent and violent killings and other human rights violations. A total of 67 cases of killings have been documented since 2001, 31 of which have occurred during the three years of PNoy's term alone.

Recent killings this year involved Kitari Capion, a younger brother of B'laan tribal leader Daguil Capion who have previously declared a pangayaw or tribal war against large-scale miner Xstrata-SMI, was killed by the strafing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Task Force Kitacom last January 29 in Davao del Sur.

Cristina Morales Jose, a leader of the climate justice movement Barug Katawhan formed by Typhoon Pablo survivors in Mindanao, was shot dead on March 4 a week after leading a people's barricade at the Department of Social Welfare and Development office in Davao.

US puppetry and imperialist globalization The Aquino regime continues to tread the path of submission to US domination and imperialist dictates. It is now the number one implementer of globalization policies in the country which further intensifies the hold and control of big transnational companies our our natural resources and lands. Recent moves of government to push Charter Change (ChaCha) intends to give more leeway and legal rights to foreign corporations to further exploit and plunder our patrimony. Public utilities and services such as in communications, energy and water continue to be privatized and deregulated while our remaining natural resources are further liberalized.

Not content with the onerous VFA, the Aquino regime wants to give full access and basing rights to US and other military forces. This is essentially the return of US military bases in different parts of the country which will result In greater environmental degradation and pollution.

People, rise up! As the environmental crisis scales up under the US-Aquino government, so does the Filipino people's struggle to protect our environment and national patrimony. People's movements such as Barug Katawhan and Indug Kautawan in Southern Mindanao have risen up to claim climate justice from the government and large-scale mining operations who have heightened the vulnerability of communities to climate impacts. Both existing and new barricades have derailed the operations of destructive miners in Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, Compostela Valley and Surigao del Norte, among others.

Through massive public pressure, the Network Opposed to Coal-Fired Power Plants in Subic Bay was able to stop a new coal-fired power plant project in Zambales. A petition for Writ of Kalikasan and temporary environmental protection orders have been filed against the persisting port calls of US Navy vessels and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

With the opening of the 16th Congress, progressive lawmakers under the Makabayan coalition are preparing to push for pro-people and pro-environment policy alternatives such as the People's Mining Bill, the Anti-Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation Act, the One-Million Solar Roofs Act, Abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, and a Moratorium on Coal-Fired Power Plant Projects.

The Filipino people has had enough of the three years of unfettered ecological destruction under PNoy. History challenges us to step up the defense of our national sovereignty and patrimony from the exploitation of mining TNCs and the US-Aquino government. There is no better time than now for an upsurge in the people's struggle!

Rise up for the defense of our land, livelihood and environment! Demand environmental and social justice from environmental criminals! Resist the policy of plunder, destruction and pollution of the US-Aquino government!
 

     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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People's Unity Calling for the Revocation of the Aquino Administration's Executive Order on Mining
Final Unity Statement_Peoples Caucus on Mining EO.pdf
17 September 2012

The issuance of Executive Order 79, Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III’s centerpiece mining policy, long touted by its proponents to provide a clear direction for environmentally responsible and economically equitable mining activities in the country, comes as a great disappointment to the Filipino people. We, the undersigned, reject the EO 79 which serves to further intensify mining liberalization and the plunder and destruction it will continually cause:

The EO 79, in adherence to RA 9742 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, strengthens its various guarantees for auxiliary rights and unparalleled profits to foreign and large-scale mining investors. Its provisions on the development of downstream industries and other value-adding activities are mere tokenism in the absence of a strategic program to use these non-renewable resources in the development of our agriculture and national industrialization;

The EO has not cured the loopholes of the Mining Law that have allowed mining corporations to circumvent the very essence of protection of watersheds, coastal ecosystems and biodiversity areas, and respect of indigenous peoples’ rights. At the same time, it offers no solution on how to address and rehabilitate the environment in abandoned mines and mining-affected areas.

The EO overrides local government authority to protect their local environment. The EO seeks to clip their powers to pass resolutions and local ordinance such as banning large-scale mining in their areas.

The EO deceptively banners a moratorium on approval of new mining applications, but has validated 659 mining agreements and exploration permits that cover 1,009,161.22 hectares of our mineralized lands. It also seeks to declare new mineral reservation areas where mining will be prioritized over other economic activities.

Proposed revenue sharing schemes, including the raising of excise taxes from 2 to 5-7 percent, and an increase in administrative taxes are still a far cry from what the Philippines deserves. Indonesia, Nigeria and Australia enjoy 10, 28 and 30 percent excise tax rates, respectively.

It anchors its environmental governance on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which to date still has to prove its integrity, rigor, credibility, political will and resources to strictly enforce environmental standards on errant mining companies.

The EO does not address the problems of small scale miners who through history have contributed greater economic benefits to the country than large scale mining. Their woes include the non issuance of licenses, lack of technological assistance to minimize the environmental and health effects of their operations and offers of livelihood alternatives to small-scale miners and their families.

The Mining EO has validated mining corporations that through our history have been causing destruction to the environment and violating the rights of our people, such as Taganito Mining in Surigao del Norte, Nickel Asia in Surigao del Sur, Toronto Ventures Inc. in Zamboanga del Norte, Rio Tuba Nickel Mining in Palawan, Korean Resources in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, and various others.

Indeed, the road paved for us by the Mining EO is a path where unending disaster lies ahead. The EO gives continuity to the 17 years of the Mining Act of 1995 that has promoted the foreign and corporate exploitation of our natural resources through 100 percent foreign ownership, generous fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, and the monopoly of decision-making in the hands of a few. EO 79 is clearly anti-people and anti-environment.

We demand the revocation of the said executive order, review the mining law, and the passage of a new mining policy which will wisely utilize our mineral resources, uphold the interests of the Filipino people, protect the integrity of our environment, and defend our patrimony against plunder and destruction.

In the process of doing this, the Aquino administration must prosecute and hold accountable mining firms which have caused environmental destruction and human rights violations. The Aquino administration should also immediately declare a moratorium on exploration and large-scale mining operations in the country to stop the current devastation of our environment and ensure our mineral resources will continue to benefit our future generations.

     
     
           
     
     
     

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Defend Patrimony!

The Defend Patrimony! Movement against Mining TNCs and Plunder of Resources (Defend Patrimony! Alliance) is a broad coalition of people's organizations, NGOs, civic institutions and federations that opposes the liberalization and plunder of our sovereign mineral resources. Kalikasan PNE is the main convenor organization of Defend Patrimony! Alliance.

The 2012 Philippine Mining Situation: Intensified Plunder, Intensified Struggles
In its second year of governance, the administration of Benigno Simeon Aquino III has continuously pursued the path of mining liberalization. Mining transnational corporations (TNCs) and their local Philippine counterparts are now rushing to cash in on rising metal prices after the global financial crisis, aiming to reach their target investment of $1.44 billion in 2011 and $1.22 billion in 2012.

The Aquino administration continues to protect these investments and reinforce the extractive, export-oriented and import-dependent nature of the mining industry. Mining operations were exempted from the current log ban. The practice of using military and paramilitary groups to protect mining firms during the Arroyo administration continues. More mineral areas are being reserved exclusively for mining operations, overriding any pre-existing land uses. The administration is crafting a new mining policy that is superficial at best and essentially similar to the existing policy.

The government vilifies movements and local governments opposing the entry of destructive mining operations in their jurisdictions, dismissing these as anti-mining and therefore anti-development. It favors the liberalization of the industry, blaming small-scale miners for environmental destruction. It projects large-scale mining operations as highly-regulated while downplaying their environmental and social impacts. It remains silent on its crimes against affected grassroots communities.

However, 2011 was also a year of the people's rising struggle against mining plunder. Advocates used the Writ of Kalikasan and other legal remedies against erring companies. Mobilizations were launched and broader alliances were forged to oppose the current mining law and large-scale projects. Proposed alternatives to Republic Act 7942 (Mining Act of 1995) were filed in Congress. Spontaneous and organized
armed resistance to mining has grown more daring and larger in scale.

-- From the executive summary of "2012 Philippine Mining Situation: Intensified PLunder, Intensified Struggles" Publication of Kalikasan PNE, Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines and the Kalikasan Partylist. For sale at P100.00, proceeds will go to our strategic environmental campaigns. Contact us at kalikasan(dot)pne(at)gmail(dot)com for orders and inquiries.

     
           
     
     
     

PROTEST RALLY BY INDUG KAUTAWAN
On March 4, 2014, hundreds of small scale miners under Indug Kautawan staged protest rally
at the office of the St. Augustine- Russell Mining Company at Price Tower. The protestors called
for the pull-out of the mining company in Compostella Valley they pointed out as  the company
that has destroyed the environment and the livelihood of the people..
Photos by Kilab Multimedia
 
           
     

MARCH 7, 2014
‘19 years of Mining Act enriched mining TNCS, but endangered the people’

The 19th anniversary of the passage of RA 7942 or Mining Act of 1995 was “greeted” with nationally-coordinated protest actions across the Philippines. The day was dubbed as Green Flag Day, and protesters launched their call for the revocation of Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s mining liberalization policies and projects.

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – “If we use our mineral resources correctly, we would not be this poor.” This was one of the conclusions shared by Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares at a forum last week discussing the 19 years of mining liberalization in the Philippines. Colmenares and the Makabayan bloc of legislators have filed a bill in Congress proposing a reorientation of the mining industry in the country, as embodied in the “Peoples Mining Bill.” They are critical of the export orientation and lack of industrialization component in the current mining law.

The Philippines is rich in mineral deposits of metallic and non-metallic resources, globally ranking high in terms of resources. But 19 years after passing the Philippine Mining Act or Republic Act 7942, and 10 years “after its unconstitutionality was subverted by corporate greed,” the said mining law’s promise of bringing development and employment has not happened at all. Instead, amid rising production values and exports of metallic and non-metallic resources, all the people got are environmental destruction, landgrabbing, human rights violations, loss of traditional livelihoods and its replacement of low-wage, insecure jobs, Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE, said in a statement.

Millions of dollars in investments have poured into mining especially since 2006, after the Supreme Court reversed its earlier ruling and eventually declared the Mining Act as constitutional. Based on data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, investments increased to thrice its amount in 2006 (from $190.3 million in 2006 to $708.4 million in 2007, and $604.2 million in 2008, and $719.5 million in 2009).

In 2010, investments breached the billion dollar mark. Amid snowballing protests, which the Aquino government tried to dampen with promises of reforms in mining policy, investments fell back to almost $800 million in 2012. All these investments apparently paid itself back at least twice in export receipts alone every year since 2006. Export of the country’s irreplaceable metallic and non-metallic resources remained at $2 billion to almost $3 billion since 2006.

But the communities and provinces hosting mine sites, such as those where the largest TNCs are operating in South Cotabato, Compostela Valley, Zamboanga del Norte and Surigao del Norte in Mindanao, Eastern and Central Visayas, Bicol and Cordillera where there are gold, copper and nickel mines, to name a few, still remain as some of the poorest in the country.
Aquino’s ‘reforms’ in mining abet mining liberalization

President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 79 late in 2012 supposedly outlining reforms, but, according to protesters and environmentalists, it only worsened the provisions of the Mining Act.

“Pres. BS Aquino’s Executive Order 79 further reinforced the sell out of our lands rich in mineral resources and has done nothing to arrest the growing incidences of environmental destruction, land-grabbing and human rights violations,” said Bautista of Kalikasan PNE.

EO 79 was criticized for its provision that ‘harmonized’ all environmental and governance policies in line with existing mining policies. This provision gives the national government the authority to veto local ordinances banning large-scale and other destructive modes of mining, which, during recent years, have been increasing.

Kalikasan-PNE said the biggest example today where Aquino used EO 79 to override local opposition is in the largest mining project in the Philippines, Glencore-Xstrata, located in Mindanao. This mining project has long encountered fierce opposition from the locals. From the time it was under Western Mining Corp in 1992, the mining project had met with resistance from the people and the church who had united to hold caravans and file charges up to the Supreme Court. In 2006 Western Mining transferred the project to Xstrata, which was taken over last year by another global mining giant Glencore.

A long-standing environmental code by the South Cotabato local government banning open-pit mining has been stalling the operation of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore-Xstrata. But the Aquino government has repeatedly signaled its desire for the largest mining investment to proceed. Its commercial operations have twice been delayed, so far.

The presidential uncle Danding Cojuangco and Manny Pangilinan of First Pacific, which has many Public-Private Partnership Projects with the Aquino government, reportedly have stakes in the mining project. They too have expressed a desire for the mining operation to proceed as planned.

Aside from usual mining-related harassments and rights violations (including diverting water resources, ejectment of small-scale miners and communities living on land set to be mined), this mining project is seen as the direct cause of the killings of 10 among the 30 killed environmental defenders under Aquino.

Data recorded by the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders said the militarization of mining-affected communities under Aquino’s mine investment defense policies has resulted in at least 30 victims of politically-motivated killings, four cases of frustrated murder, and 27 victims of strategic lawsuits against public participation or SLAPPs.

Because of Aquino’s mining executive orders, pro-mining government officials are threatening the implementation of mining moratoriums. In Taisan, Batangas, the town’s local government and peoples’ organization have already issued a mining moratorium in 2012, “but mining exploration continues as if there’s no mining moratorium because the provincial government led by Governor Vilma Santos is pro- mining,” RJ Manalo, secretary-general of women’s group Gabriela in Southern Tagalog region, told Bulatlat.com.

The destruction being wrought by Aquino’s mining regime can be seen in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, the Kalikasan-PNE said.

“Mine exploration activities of the Royalco company have spurred human rights violations, including militarization and harassment law suits. FCF Minerals’ mine development has diverted water away from communities and demolished the homes of indigenous small-scale miners. Oceana Gold’s commercial operations have caused the massive siltation in its adjacent rivers, reduced the productivity of surrounding agricultural lands, and exploited its workers with low wages and lack of benefits,” said Bautista of Kalikasan-PNE.

Anti-people

Bautista said the government’s current mining policies not only cause destruction and rights violations while the mines are in operation, “it also encourages abandonment of un-rehabilitated mines.” As examples, Kalikasan-PNE cited the decade-long case filed by the people of Marinduque against Marcopper mining corporation, now owned by the Canadian Barrick Gold, which caused one of the country’s most severe mine spill disasters. The company came close to settling the case with a P20-million ($444 thousand) ‘take it or leave it’ offer, which would have exonerated it, Kalikasan-PNE said.

South Korean-owned Rapu-Rapu Minerals, which concluded its eight-year mining contract in the island of Rapu-Rapu in Albay, also reportedly tried to abandon the rehabilitation provision of its contract.

“The attempts of Rapu-Rapu Minerals and Marcopper-Barrick Gold to shirk from their responsibilities in rehabilitating their mine sites upon closure belie the claims of the mining industry lobbyists and the national government that the mine operations in the country are socially and environmentally responsible. Let us also not forget how Philex Mining Corporation has weaseled its way out of its 20-million metric-ton tailings disaster last 2012, when it has not also fully rehabilitated Balog and Agno Rivers and it has not fully compensated all the downstream communities they affected,” added Bautista.

Philex Mining Corporation, under the business conglomerate led by Manny Pangilinan, could have prevented the mine spill, given that the lifespan of the lone operating tailings pond was not unknown to them, some Philex employees previously told Bulatlat.com. Until today, the two unused tailings ponds of Philex have reportedly not yet been rehabilitated.

The 19th anniversary of the passage of RA 7942 or Mining Act of 1995 was “greeted” with nationally-coordinated protest actions across the Philippines. The day was dubbed as Green Flag Day, and the protesters launched their call for the revocation of Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s mining liberalization policies and projects. They demanded the repeal of both the Mining Act of 1995 and Aquino’s EO 79.

In the place of the current Mining Act, green groups and indigenous peoples groups from various mining-affected areas in the Philippines urged Congress to ratify immediately a new people’s mining policy, one that “would reorient the mining industry towards ensuring needs-based utilization, environmental safety and people’s welfare in the objective of ensuring genuine land reform, agricultural modernization and national industrialization.” (http://bulatlat.com)

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/03/07/19-years-of-mining-act-enriched-mining-tncs-but-endangered-the-people/#sthash.h29OVDpC.dpuf

 

     
     
     

 
 
     
           
           
     
     
           
           
     
     
           
           
           
           

 

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