Groups from Northern Luzon hold protest against mining corporations

Source: 
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO, Bulatlat.com - http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/03/01/groups-from-northern-luzon-hold-protest-against-mining-corporations/
Date of publication: 
1 March, 2012

Some 300 members of anti-irresponsible mining groups and residents from various provinces in Northern Luzon held a rally in front of the offices of well-know mining corporations in Manila earlier this week in protest against what they said are the countless rights violations these companies have been perpetuating as they implement their mining projects.

Northern Luzon is composed of the Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Cordillera regions where famous man-made and natural wonders can be found such as the Baguio rice terraces. Majority of residents come from marginalized sectors, among them peasants, fisher folk and indigenous peoples. Many of the mining projects that are posed for implementation are in the mountainous areas where the communities of several indigenous groups such as the Agta, Ilongot and Igorot have been established for centuries.

Led by Amianan, Salakniban! (Defend the North), Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) and green group Kalikasan-PNE, the activists went around the capital and staged rallies in front of the offices of the Chamber of Mines, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, Benguet Corporation, Coolabah Mining Corporation, Red Earth Mining Corporation, and Lasseter Mining Corporation.
These firms are known to hold mining applications and hold operations in the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley, and Pampanga.

According to KAMP, 243,605,696 hectares of land are currently covered by offshore magnetite mining applications in Ilocos alone. In the meantime, a shocking 60 percent of the total land area of the Cordilleras has already been compromised by mining applications and operations.

Large-scale and foreign dominated mining operations in the Philippines are seriously threatening the existence of many communities, especially those of indigenous peoples,” Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said.

The group recently launched the Thousand Streamer Campaign, a streamer hanging protest against destructive large-scale mining. It said the Aquino government was being hypocritical when it said that it has been conducting campaigns to protect the environment when it has actually accelerated the entry of mining transnational corporations into the country.

The campaign coordinator of Bantay Amianan George Baya, in the meantime, slammed the Chamber of Mines and the Aquino administration for pushing numerous mining projects in Northern Luzon.

“These programs are clearly for profit and not for the genuine development of the communities and the country as a whole. Too many mining activities in Northern Luzon impact negatively on the region’s ridge and reef ecosystems. If the situation worsens any further, it’s not only the people of Northern Luzon who will be affected but those living in Metro Manila and Central Luzon as well. These regions also depend on the watershed and even food products from Northern Luzon,” he said.

Bantay Amianan spokesman Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes pointed how the destructive effects of mining activities are being suffered by indigenous peoples.

“A century’s worth of mining operations in the Cordillera particularly in Benguet brought about the destruction of ancestral lands and the economic and political displacement of the Ibaloi and Kankanaey people of the province. Magnetite or black sand mining is now posing a large threat to the marine ecosystems of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley. This will cause erosion of the sea floor and may damage coral reefs that serve as homes for fishes and other marine creatures. This will surely affect the livelihood of local fisher folk,” he said.

The groups also called for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995. “The law practically surrendered the country’s patrimony by offering so many incentives, privileges and guarantees to foreign investors: it allows them 100 percent ownership, 100 percent repatriation of capital and profits, easement rights, water rights, timber rights and tax incentives. As long as this law is being enforced, there is no place for people’s rights in the mining industry,” KAMP’s Malayao said.

A draft of Aquino’s mining policy was leaked to the media in mid-February. It was met with protests from various environmental groups and anti-irresponsible mining advocacy organizations.

Exercise political will against ecological destruction
For its part, the Kalikasan-PNE said the Aquino administration should exercise its political will on the unabated ecological destruction and resource plunder caused by Lepanto, Philex, Colossal and other large-scale and magnetite mining operations.

“The Aquino administration should stop taking in hook, line and sinker the brand of responsible mining exercised by these operations that exacerbate poverty, dislocate livelihoods and pollute ecosystems,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The previous year saw the sudden surge of magnetite mining applications, despite massive opposition from communities to current operations. There are a total of 176 magnetite mining applications across the Philippines, and 158 of them are found in La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

“We are literally selling Philippine soil dirt cheap to foreign-owned companies through magnetite mining. We saw its ill-effects during the course of an environmental investigation mission conducted with the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines in 2010. Communities experienced worsened flooding, eroded banks and coasts, and the drastic decrease of fisheries supply in some municipalities in Cagayan,” lamented Bautista.

Meanwhile, environmental political party Kalikasan Partylist seconded growing criticism of large-scale mining operations in Northern Luzon for perpetuating what it called “the ugly standard” of large-scale mining practices.

“In another environmental investigation mission conducted by Kalikasan Partylist in Mt. Abo in Porac Pampanga, we found how the impending Pisumpan Copper Mines project owned by Chinese company Shuley Mines Inc. can potentially affect the area’s biodiversity, water quality, and the culture of Aeta communities in the area,” said Leon Dulce, lead convenor of Kalikasan Partylist.

Communities along the Abra River in northern Luzon have experienced fish kills, coral bleaching in their estuaries and massive siltation in their agricultural lands because of mine tailings spilling directly into the river or through other tributaries.

“Amid clear ecological degradation, the Aquino administration considers the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project operated by FCF Minerals in Nueva Vizcaya as one of its priority projects. An international study tour we conducted last year revealed the abuses of nature and human rights in Nueva Vizcaya related to the mining project. We believe scientific evidence and the concrete people’s experience is sufficient basis for the regime to reverse these mining liberalization schemes founded in current mining laws. It is high time to repeal the onerous mining policy that is the Mining Act of 1995,” Dulce said. (http://bulatlat.com)

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North Luzon protest caravan to bring people’s anger to footsteps of irresponsible mining companies

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

29 February 2012

Environmental groups joined the people’s protest caravan mounted today by grassroots activists from Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Ilocos, and Central Luzon demanding the closure of destructive mining operations encroaching on ancestral domains and sources of livelihood.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), environmental advocates and the Northern Luzon anti-mining plunder network Amianan Salakniban trooped to the offices of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) and other companies green groups dubbed as “irresponsible miners.”

“We join the people of Northern Luzon in calling for the Aquino administration to exercise its political will on the unabated ecological destruction and resource plunder caused by Lepanto, Philex, Colossal and other large-scale and magnetite mining operations to their lands. Government should stop taking in hook, line and sinker the brand of responsible mining exercised by these operations that exacerbate poverty, dislocate livelihoods and pollute ecosystems,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The previous year saw the sudden surge of magnetite mining applications, despite massive opposition from communities to current operations. There are a total of 176 magnetite mining applications across the Philippines, and 158 of them are found in La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

“We are literally selling Philippine soil dirt cheap to foreign-owned companies through magnetite mining. We saw its ill-effects during the course of an environmental investigation mission conducted with the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines in 2010. Communities experienced worsened flooding, eroded banks and coasts, and the drastic decrease of fisheries supply in some municipalities in Cagayan,” lamented Bautista.

Meanwhile, environmental political party Kalikasan Partylist seconded growing criticism of large-scale mining operations in Northern Luzon for perpetuating what it called “the ugly standard” of large-scale mining practices.

“In another environmental investigation mission conducted by Kalikasan Partylist in Mt. Abo in Porac Pampanga, we found how the impending Pisumpan Copper Mines project owned by Chinese company Shuley Mines Inc. can potentially affect the area’s biodiversity, water quality, and the culture of Aeta communities in the area,” said Leon Dulce, lead convenor of Kalikasan Partylist.

Communities along the Abra River in northern Luzon have experienced fish kills, coral bleaching in their estuaries and massive siltation in their agricultural lands because of mine tailings spilling directly into the river or through other tributaries.

“Amidst clear ecological degradation, the Aquino administration considers the Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project operated by FCF Minerals in Nueva Vizcaya as one of its priority projects. An international study tour we conducted last year revealed the abuses of nature and human rights in Nueva Vizcaya related to the mining project. We believe scientific evidence and the concrete people’s experience is sufficient basis for the regime to reverse these mining liberalization schemes founded in current mining laws. It is high time to repeal the onerous mining policy that is the Mining Act of 1995,” ended Dulce.

Alongside these campaign efforts addressing the environmental impacts of destructive mining, Kalikasan PNE and other concerned groups across the nation will hold the Third People’s Mining Conference on March 1-2 at the Tagaste Retreat House in Tagaytay. The conference aims to synthesize the experiences and strengthen the alliances, networks and campaigns against mining liberalization and plunder.


CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: kalikasan.pne [at] gmail [dot] com
Website: www.kalikasan.org

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Conference renews push for Peoples’ Mining Bill

By MARYA SALAMAT, Bulatlat.com – http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/03/02/conference-renews-push-for-peoples%E...

2 March 2012

MANILA – “A hundred years after exporting our precious timber, have we become rich?” This is the question Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino threw to the participants of the 3rd Peoples Mining Conference happening until today in Tagaytay City.

The conference has drawn nearly 200 environmentalists from all over the Philippines who, in an earlier regional sharing of mining updates, have already detailed how, on the contrary, most ordinary citizens are becoming poorer and more miserable with every operation of huge mining corporations because of massive resource extraction in their midst.

Most lament how, for a pittance or nothing, they are left to contend with the damages to their sources of livelihood caused by denuded mountains and forests while huge corporations are repatriating billions of dollars in profits, Rep. Palatino, and earlier that day Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, were talking to an audience who is evidently already eager for an alternative law that would correct the disastrous Mining Act of 1995. In fact, the alternative mining policy coauthored by the progressive party list groups in Congress “is not just a proposal of the said partylist groups,” said Palatino. House Bill 4315, or the Peoples Mining Bill, he said, “is a product of broad consultations in many regions, and through this, it embodies peoples’ aspirations in how mining can benefit the people.”

Mining, after all, is not inherently bad, as some conference delegates agreed. It is only when the mining policy, like the Mining Act of 1995, is geared for massive extraction and exporting for profits that mining becomes untenable.

Change in mining policy, change in economic policy

The Peoples Mining Bill requires the government to first lay down a plan for industrialization that would utilize the country’s mineral wealth for the progress of its economic sectors. Compared to the Mining Act of 1995, which extracts and sells its mineral wealth based on the demand of the ‘chaotic’ world market, at the least cost of production to huge mining companies, the Peoples’ Mining Bill would rather see these mineral wealth put to processing in this country, serving its own need for raw materials in its own industries and economic sectors.

The basic requisite is that there should be an industrialization plan, said Palatino. But another basic that would change the way the government runs the economy is the shift from catering to the chaotic market economy to one that is centrally planned, to minimize wasteful and unnecessary digging out of precious minerals and for the judicious use of the country’s mineral resources.

In the Philippines, most mineral resources lie under the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples groups, giving rise to questions of ownership and governance. Unlike the Mining Act of 1995, the Peoples Mining Bill vows to not drive away the indigenous peoples from their lands, which has been tantamount to killing them and tampering with their identity and culture.

According to Palatino, “real transparency” and not just a “flood of trivia” would be instituted once the Peoples Mining Bill becomes law. “We want information on how access is secured, if the Moros and the indigenous peoples were respected,” in the process of getting their consent in extracting the wealth underneath their communities and sacred areas.

In stark contrast to the mining liberalization of the Mining Act of 1995, the Peoples Mining Bill practically declares the Philippines as a no-mining zone. It grants only exceptions and permits to conduct mining if the industrialization needs call for it and if the affected communities give their consent.

The provisions in the said mining bill are also in recognition of the trend that more and more local government units, acting on their constituents’ demands, have lately been passing ordinances declaring a moratorium or ban on large-scale mining in their areas, especially the open pit type. “But they complain that the national government ignores these local ordinances in the Mining Act. The Philippine president has a big role in giving out mining permits,” explained Palatino.

The “schizophrenic” character today of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), where the department tasked to protect the environment is issuing mining permits, would be treated in the Peoples Mining Bill. It will transform the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) into a scientific board. No more exploration permits would be granted. Instead, the MGB would be tasked to give the mining permits, following a transparent study of the minerals available.

A multisectoral mining council would be formed, said Palatino, to determine if parts of the Philippines would be opened for mining based on the consent of the community and the stringent requirements of the industrialization plan.

If passed into law, the Peoples Mining Bill would accept three types of mineral agreements: mineral production sharing agreements, co-production agreements and joint ventures. Joint ventures are limited to 500 to 700 hectares and from five to 15 years only.

Stringent requirements

“The Peoples Mining Bill recognizes mining as a legitimate industry, but we place stringent regulations on it due to experiences and the delicate state of the environment,” said Palatino. This is why the bill would prohibit Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) and would require an environmental and social impact assessment. Its result would be the basis for approving proposed mining activities. Palatino hastened to clarify that a rejected application will no longer be entertained even if the applicant has changed the company name to deceive those opposed to its mining activities, as is the practice today.

Even the transport, sale and processing of mined products would be regulated. Noting how much of the country’s coastal areas is being bled by magnetite mining, and how even politicians are entering the fray, the youth representative said that’s because the requirements today are so simple and the equipment needed are not necessarily expensive.

In the mining activities that would b approved, Palatino said, “local knowhow” would be tapped, even as the government is expected to give support and encourage community-based programs that double their gains from mining, aside from royalties and fees.

“The Mining Act of 1995 is a very good law… if you were a foreign mining company,” said Palatino. The current mining policy offers a dizzying array of tax holidays, which the Peoples Mining Bill would change. If there are foreign mining companies that will be allowed to operate under the Peoples Mining Act (after meeting all its requirements), they would be allowed to repatriate profits only for a year; they would be required to give the country its share from the mineral wealth, as well as compel them to truly give preference for Filipino labor especially the IPs; and they would be encouraged to use, as much as possible, indigenous goods, services and technology, as well as turn over all their facilities at the end of their approved mining activities.

The mining industry is an almost $1trillion industry, and “we want only a just share from it to uplift the area,” said Palatino. “What is $1billion, for example, to the mining companies?” he asked, that is, if their proposed taxes and shares from mining were approved.

The problem is, bribing politicians is much cheaper for the mining companies, Palatino noted. A Philippine politician needs only P2 to 4 billion ($46.5 to $93 million) to run for the presidency, lawmakers and local politicians even less. This, he said, makes for a rougher passage for a proposed law like the Peoples Mining Bill.

Along with banning profit repatriation, the Peoples Mining Bill would also require full disclosure of profits by the mining companies.

Access to justice is also given attention in the Peoples Mining Bill, as the partylist lawmakers note the danger of President Aquino’s decision to allow mining companies to hire paramilitary groups as security. “where mining is, there are human rights violations,” said most delegates to the mining conference. (http://bulatlat.com)

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In the Third People’s Mining Conference – Communities, groups tackle destructive mining in the Philippines

Kalikasan PNE Press statement

1 March 2012

Over 200 delegates congregated today to synthesize the people’s experiences on mining and strengthen the campaign against mining liberalization and plunder at the Third National People’s Mining Conference in Tagaste Retreat House, Tagaytay.

Organized by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Defend Patrimony! Alliance, Center for Environmental Concerns–Philippines, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, Ecumenical Bishops Forum and the Stewards of Creation, the two-day conference gathered representatives from peoples’ organizations, sectors and regions all over the Philippines, especially from communities ravaged by foreign and large-scale mining.

“While the government of Pres. Benigno Aquino III continues to embark on the path of mining liberalization and accelerated plunder of our mineral resources, we will pave a radically divergent road towards the reversal of environmentally destructive and anti-people mining,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

On the first day, experts and leaders discussed the state of the mining industry, its impacts on communities and the environment, and the people’s struggles against mining liberalization and plunder as well as for a people’s mining policy from the regional to the international level.

“The world financial crisis today has pushed global economies towards incredible price speculations and buffering of raw material supplies, to ensure that companies still earn billions from exploiting our natural resources. But when the demand for raw materials wane, a crisis of mineral overproduction will rattle the whole industry, and will leave mining-ravaged communities to suffer abject poverty and ecological destruction,” said Bautista.

Speakers from different regions confirmed this trend in their localities, highlighting cases of contaminated water systems and agricultural lands in the Abra River-covered areas, Palawan, and Surigao del Norte. Indigenous peoples, small-scale miners and other grassroots communities remain at threat of eviction from their ancestral domains and livelihoods, as was pointed out in Pampanga, Nueva Vizcaya, and Compostela Valley.

“Large-scale mining is not sustainable in these times of changing climate. We must also look into the compounding effects of mining and climate change, as recent disasters that swept mining-affected communities in Visayas and Northern Mindanao demonstrated. The vulnerability of communities to extreme weather events exponentially increase, and mining disasters such as mine tailing spills, landslides and flashfloods as a result of their forest-clearing operations are likewise amplified,” added Bautista.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino was resource speaker on the provisions and updates on House Bill 4315 or the People’s Mining Bill (PMB), which he co-authored with Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño alongside other progressive partylists. The PMB, currently part of a consolidated alternative mining law being pushed for approval in Congress, aims to reorient the mining industry towards local development, environmental safety and people’s welfare.

“As the onerous Mining Act of 1995 is anti-people and anti-environment, conference participants will take the Aquino administration to task in the crafting of mining policies. PNoy’s hyped executive order (EO) on mining, touted by his cohorts as the answer to mining problems, immediately folded to the media barrage of mining lobbyists. If Aquino does not have the backbone to confront pro-mining groups and crush the greed of mining companies, the people are ready and guarantee intensified protests and actions against destructive mining,” asserted Bautista.

Conference delegates are set to join Kalikasan PNE and various progressive groups calling for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 in a protest action on March 3, the anniversary of the passage of the country’s mining law. Various organizations of workers, peasants, fisherfolk, church workers, indigenous peoples, environmental advocates, women, professionals and youths have pledged to attend the mobilization.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE – 0922 844 9787

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Gov’t plan for bigger mining tax collection a “far cry” from what Philippines deserves – Defend Patrimony

PRESS STATEMENT

2 March 2012

The anti-mining liberalization group Defend Patrimony! Alliance criticized today proposals by the Aquino administration for greater revenue collections in mining as a “far cry” from the potential collection the Philippines can attain from the mining industry.

The national government collected only P2 billion from the mining industry out of the P1.2 trillion total revenue collection of the Philippines. Sec. Purisima cited this poor collection as basis for their proposed increase in excise tax collections from 2 to 5 percent in mining.

“We believe such a proposal is a far cry from what the Philippines could and should be collecting from the billions generated by the mining industry. The government does not even utilize its inherent right to greater shares as co-owner of our mineral resources. In Indonesia, Australia and some Latin American nations, government shares even reach 30 to 60 percent outside of their taxation schemes,” the Defend Patrimony! said in a statement.

“Finance secretary Purisima himself admitted that mining revenue collection contributed only a meager 0.16 percent of the total revenue collection of the Philippines. It disproves any suggestion made by mining lobbyists such as the Chamber of Mines in the Philippines that the full opening-up of our mineral resources to large-scale foreign corporations will facilitate development to our marginalized communities,” the Defend Patrimony! Alliance added.

The mining conference’s economic discussion highlighted the Mining Act of 1995 as the overarching framework that stunts any effort to utilize the mining industry for national development. The law’s provisions provide massive advantages for foreign mining corporations, including limited access to corporate data, full repatriation of capital, as well as onerous investment guarantees and incentives.

“Under the current mining law, we have witnessed the industry’s cheating in reporting revenue and taxation data, resulting in disparities. From 2000 to 2009, the industry reported bigger export value than its production value. This is anomalous since the industry cannot export what it did not produce. Most probably it has been a practice to misdeclare production to evade paying taxes to the government,” the Defend Patrimony! Alliance said.

The conference has discussed the need to reorient the mining industry and its governance policies towards national industrialization, and Defend Patrimony! stressed that “a needs-based approach must be ensured that will refocus mineral resource extraction and utilization towards local development, people’s welfare and environmental safety.”

The delegates are set to join various progressive environmental and people’s organizations in a multi-sectoral protest action at Mendiola on March 3. Coinciding with the anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995’s passage, the protesters will be calling for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, the advancement of the alternative mining legislation the People’s Mining Bill, and the defense of our national patrimony from mining liberalization and plunder.###

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Northern Luzon eco-activists protest mining in Ilocos

http://www.cbcpnews.net/?q=node/18758

1 March 2012

ANTIPOLO City — Members of the Amianan Salakniban or the Defend the North Alliance, a union of pro-environment organizations in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Autonomous Region, flocked at the Chamber of Mines in Ortigas, Pasig City to protest the continued mining operations in the region, which puts the communities and the environment in grave danger.

In a statement sent to CBCPNews, Bantay Amianan campaign coordinator George Baya said, the Government should realize that large mining firms are only after profits and that mining activities will never bring the Philippines into development.

“Too much mining activities In Northern Luzon will pose grave impacts on its ridge and reef ecosystems. If this happens, not only the people of the north are endangered but also the people of Metro Manila and Central Luzon as we depend on the watershed and even food products from the region,” warned Baya.

Last year, the fisherfolk group, Pambansang Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas had sounded the alarm over the black sand mining activities along the Ilocos coastline, which they said, would affect the quality of the water in those parts of the Philippine seas, will destroy coral reefs, and will drive the people there into deep poverty as a result of massive loss of livelihood.

Tribal peoples most affected by aggressive mining activities

The Igorot, Agta and Ilongot tribes will suffer most of the consequence of irresponsible and aggressive mining in the heart of the Sierra Madre and the Cordillera Mountain ranges.

Rev. Fr. Rex B. Reyes, spokesperson of the Bantay Amianan said, a century long mining operations in the Cordilleras, particularly in the Province of Benguet, had brought massive destruction of the indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands and had been the cause of economic and political displacement of the Ibalois and the Kankanaeys.

Besides this, the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) had also raised the alarm over the militarization happening in the areas where large local and international mining companies are operating.

IPs call on scrapping of Philippine mining law

Last month, tribe-members of KAMP had launched a “Thousand Streamer Campaign” against destructive mining in the areas where the indigenous tribes live.

KAMP spokesperson Piya Macliing Malayao said the Thousand Streamer Campaign expands the protest against destructive, large-scale mines to other Filipinos who are not directly affected by mining operations, but acknowledges its grave negative effects to the environment and to our national patrimony.

She also said that the campaign “aims to register the Filipino people’s protest against large mines and in solidarity with the indigenous peoples’ rights to land and life, KAMP said. “Churches, organizations, and offices are asked to put up streamers bearing a symbolic logo of the indigenous peoples’ struggle against large mines, and the call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995.”

The said campaign was supported by progressive partylists Gabriela and Bayan Muna, represented by Luzviminda Ilagan and Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño respectively. The National Council of Churches of the Philippines, via Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, had also expressed their support to the campaign, saying that it [the Thousand Streamer Campaign] is an “indictment of capitalism at its worst”. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

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On the eve of Aquino’s new mining policy

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

3 March 2012

One nation in action against destructive, irresponsible mining

Grassroots and advocacy organizations across the Philippines converged today in a multi-sectoral protest action in front of Malacanang as an opening of an intensified national campaign against the government’s mining liberalization policy and foreign mining operations in the country.

Delegates from the recently concluded Third National People’s Mining Conference joined hundreds of activists under the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Defend Patrimony! Alliance and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) to strengthen calls for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and the imposition of a moratorium on large-scale mining.

“Seventeen years after the enactment of Mining Act, over a million hectares of our lands were owned and plundered by foreign mining corporations, conflicts and violence proliferated in mining affected-communities, and our environment was devastated and polluted. We call for a moratorium on mining applications and operations on all foreign, large-scale, magnetite and offshore mining transnational corporations. This must stand until we are able to put in place a pro-people, pro-environment mining law,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

“The vast experiences and analyses documented show the destructive and irresponsible nature of current foreign-driven mining operations. From the pollution and siltation of water systems and agricultural lands, to the socio-economic and cultural displacement of grassroots communities, we the people have had enough of mining that does not serve our democratic interests and aspirations,” added Bautista.

All regions and sectors were represented in the people’s protest that marched to Mendiola to pressure Pres. Benigno Aquino III to cease from promoting the liberalization of the mining industry to foreign capital. They explained that this cause not only environmental degradation but also human rights violations by the mining corporations.

Bautista asserted that “mining has recorded at least 40 human rights violations under its belt since 2001, composed of 37 politically-motivated killings, 2 frustrated murders and a case of enforced disappearance. Communities have also suffered from the state-sponsored terrorism of military forces, as well as from the billions of pesos worth of deceptive greenwashing or PR gimmickry by mining TNCs and their local lackeys.”

Among the highlight calls to action formulated in the people’s conference include the stoppage and moratorium on these destructive operations by mining transnational corporations (TNCs) and their cohorts, an end to mining-driven human rights violations, militarization of communities and corporate greenwashing, and the advancement of the People’s Mining Bill towards the nationalization and needs-oriented approach of the mining industry.

“We have warned of Pres. Aquino’s new mining policy overriding local environmental codes and remaining toothless against current mining laws as the start of worsened mining liberalization. This protest marks the beginning of an intensified national campaign that will broaden networks and alliances, strengthen public opposition and protest. This all is to advance the people’s agenda of nationalizing the mining industry and refocusing it towards ensuring public interest, domestic development and environmental safety,” ended Bautista.###

Reference: Clemente Bautista Jr., National Coordinator – Kalikasan PNE 0922 844 9787

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Groups gather at Mendiola to protest mining

ABS-CBNnews.com – http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/03/03/12/groups-gather-me...

3 March 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Environmental and militant groups gathered at Mendiola near Malacañang on Saturday to kick off an “intensified” campaign against mining in the country.

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment is calling for a moratorium on all mining applications of foreign companies.

“We call for a moratorium on applications and operations on all foreign, large-scale, magnetite and offshore mining transnational corporations. This must stand until we are able to put in place a pro-people, pro-environment mining law,” said Clemente Bautista, the group’s national coordinator.

Militant group Bayan, for its part, is urging the government to repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 as the law marks its 17th anniversary today.

Saying the current mining policy is a “bankrupt economic policy,” Bayan said the government should pursue a nationalist and pro-people policy and that mining should be geared toward meeting people’s domestic needs rather than private profit margins and global market demands.

“It is time that we assert our national interest and sovereignty. It is time we put domestic needs and environmental protection at the forefront of profits. It is time we junk the Mining Act of 1995,” it said.

The protest comes after a big mining conference in Makati City on Friday where stakeholders presented their views about the impact of the industry on economy and environment.

‘Win-win situation’

Friday’s conference saw heated exchanges among its participants that included Gina Lopez, ABS-CBN Foundation managing director and convenor of the Save Palawan Movement, and businessman Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of the country’s biggest miner, Philex Mining Corp.

Despite the high drama that marked the event, the country’s top executives believe the forum achieved its goal of providing an avenue for a healthy exchange of ideas on mining issues.

Eduardo Francisco, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, one of the organizers, said the forum was a “win-win” for all participants and the public.

He said the forum convinced critics of the benefits of mining and brought anti-mining advocates to sympathize with mining companies.

He said they hope to hold a follow-up conference to provide more clarification and direction for collaboration on mining-related issues.

He added that business groups like MAP plan to come up with a summary of points raised during the forum and submit their recommendations to Malacañang ahead of an executive order on a unified mining policy.

The President was supposed to issue the EO last February, but deferred it pending additional consultations with stakeholders.

Business groups were worried that the EO, which reportedly aims to increase mining taxes and review fiscal incentives for miners, might affect investor sentiment in the country. – With reports from Caroline Howard, ANC; dzMM

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Militant organizations dispute big miners’ claims

By TJ Burgonio, Inquirer Research, Philippine Daily Inquirer – http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/155547/militant-organizations-dispute-big-m...

3 March 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Militant groups sneered at mining industry leaders on Saturday for claiming that mining, if conducted responsibly, could be the country’s big ticket out of poverty, and said the industry’s export orientation would never lead to national development.

“As long as the mining industry’s orientation serves the interests of foreign and local capital, Philippine mining will continue to be the main culprit in rural poverty, destructive, and anti-environment,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas spokesperson Antonio Flores said in a statement.

Contrary to claims, mining has displaced farmers and caused “environmental havoc to farmlands and communities,” he said.

“The minerals extracted from our lands were only used for the benefit of big businesses like miners who also monopolize the telecom industry,” he said. “Mining industry leaders cum land grabbers and environmental plunderers should stop bragging of mining as a big ticket out of poverty.”

In a mining forum last Friday, Philex Mining chair Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chamber of Mines director Gerard Brimo and Wallace Business Forum’s Peter Wallace said that responsible mining was the way to go but that the government should boost its capacity to regulate the industry.

“The solution is not to ban mining but to control it,” Wallace said.

Pangilinan said the enemy was poverty, not mining.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the benefits of mining are belied by its insignificant contribution to the national economy.

“Truth is, so long as the mining is geared toward exports and so long as the overall economy is dependent on foreign investments and imports, the mining industry will only serve the interests of private profits and will never lead to national development and industrialization,” he said.

Mining’s contribution to the economy has not breached the “1.5 percent barrier for a long time now,” Leo Jasareno of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said.

Reyes said that mining remains an extractive industry that “does little to develop the economy’’ and that foreign mining firms and their local counterparts were merely interested in the export of the country’s mineral resources.

“Mining can only contribute to national development if it is part of a program for national industrialization. This would require a reorientation of the export-oriented, import-oriented, foreign investment-led, debt-and-remittance-driven economy,” he said.

To stop environmental degradation, Reyes said, mining “should be geared toward meeting people’s domestic needs rather than private profit margins and global market demands.’’

“The Philippine government must invest in the necessary industries to process our mineral wealth and make these serve further industrialization, including manufacturing and agricultural modernization,” he said.