Monthly Archives: October 2011

Mining Highlights Government’s Shortcomings Under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

As the world marks the fourth year since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) in September 13, 2007, indigenous peoples in the Philippines continue with their struggle against violations of their rights.

Embodying lofty ideals and aspirations, the UN DRIP is a declaration signed by more than 143 countries without any opposition, recognizing the historical marginalization of indigenous peoples, and well as affirming and promoting their rights.

No solidarity, sympathy

Home to more than 14 million indigenous peoples, the Philippines’ act of signing the declaration signaled both hope and anticipation. Four years on, however, the question remains: how has the Philippines fared in being faithful to its commitments under the UN DRIP?

During the State of the Indigenous Peoples’ Address held July this year, leaders from 25 different indigenous communities asked, “Papaano kami makakaahon mula [sa kahirapan] kung wala kaming makitang pakikiisa o pakikiramay mula sa pamahalaan? (How can we rise from poverty when we cannot see any solidarity or sympathy from the government?)”

Strong doubts

Judy Pasimio, Executive Director of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, says “indigenous peoples in resource-conflict areas face a seemingly insurmountable challenge against the aggressive policy of the government to promote mining.

The Philippine Mining Act of 1995, its implementing rules and regulations, as well as Executive Order 270-A embody the government’s policy towards mining. Pasimio adds, “These policies, coupled with the realities on the ground, provoke strong doubts as to whether the government is serious with its declarations.” She points to the situation in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, where the Commission on Human Rights issued a resolution earlier this year condemning violations of human rights by a mining company. “Mining is an industry which is notorious for its outright violations of the IP rights.”

Free, prior, informed consent

Pasimio laments the constant disregard by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, particularly the Mines and Geoscience Bureau, for the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples in relation to the exploitation of the resources found within their ancestral lands. “Right now, mining companies are enabled by the government to view the FPIC as a mere bureaucratic requirement, when in fact, it is the cornerstone of the UN DRIP.”

‘Antagonistic’

The UN DRIP, under Article 32, requires states to consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories, particularly the exploitation of mineral resources. “Without FPIC, the relationship between the state and indigenous peoples becomes meaningless, if not antagonistic,” Pasimio adds.

This sentiment is echoed by Bayani Sumaoang of the Aeta community of Mag-Ansi, Tarlac. “Patuloy na nagiging problema ng mga katutubo ang mga sangkatutak na ‘development projects’ lalo na dahil hindi ito dumadaan sa tamang proseso ng free, prior and informed consent (Indigenous peoples’ problems continue with numerous ‘development projects’ that do not go through the correct process of obtaining free, prior and informed consent).”

‘Do as you say’

Leaders of indigenous communities challenge the commitments of the government under the UN DRIP to promote the rights of indigenous peoples. “Bakit nagtutunggali ang mga declarasyon ng gobyerno, at ang mga ginagawa nito? (Why do the government’s declarations conflict with its actions?)” asks Ka Salvador ‘Badong’ Dimain, community leader of the Aeta community in Maporac, Zambales. “Napakasimple lang, kung ano ang sinabi mo, yung din dapat ang gagawin mo (It’s very simple, what you say is what you should do),” Ka Badong adds.

Threat to ancestral domains

He decries the audacious destruction of their ancestral lands by huge mining corporations, saying “Ilang daang taon naming inalagaan ng
aking mga ninuno ang mga kagubatan at ang mga ilog, lubos naming ikinalulungkot ang pagwasak nito ng basta na lang (For centuries, our
ancestors took care of the forests and the rivers, we are deeply saddened by its rapid destruction).”

Under Article 29 of the UN DRIP, indigenous peoples are recognized as having the right to the conservation and protection of the environment
and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.

The latest figures from the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center reveal that of the total area covered by the government’s proposed 23
priority sites for mining, one-third will be in ancestral domains of indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples.

Please send your comments and queries to Judy Pasimio at judy.pasimio@lrcksk.org

Source: http://lrcksk.org/main/2011/09/mining-highlights-government’s-shortcomings-under-the-un-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/

IP Leaders in Manila to Seek Peace and Justice in Their Ancestral Domains

Quezon City – Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders from different parts of the country have gathered in Quezon Circle to kickoff their lobby tour to demand immediate legislative and executive action to address peace, justice and development issues faced by indigenous peoples communities.

“Nianhi mi aron iduol sa mga hingtungdan nga ahensya sa gobyerno ilabina sa opisina ni Presidente Aquino ang among komon nga agenda isip Katawhang Lumad”  said leader Datu Roldan Babelon, a Menuvo Pulangeyun from Central Mindanao. (We are here to present to the conncerned government agencies especially to the Office of President Aquino our common agenda as Indigenous Peoples.)

They will spend the whole last week of October – in line with the commemoration of the Indigenous Peoples Month – visiting different government agencies, including congress, senate and the office of the president to present their 10 point IP agenda crafted during the State of the Indigenous Peoples Address (SIPA) conference of indigenous peoples leaders in Koronadal City last July in response to President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Their first stop was a meeting with House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada where they asked his support for the passage of an Anti-Racial Discrimination Law; the review of the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples rights Act (IPRA) specially in the areas of Free, Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), the issue of mandatory representation of indigenous peoples in Local Government Uunit councils, and the performance of the IPRA created National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP);  the legal recognition of IP ownership over all natural resources within their ancestral domains; and ensuring budget in line agencies for indigenous peoples concerns.

On Wednesday they will also have a meeting with Congressman Baguilat who is himself an IP and chairs the National Cultural Communities Committee of the House of Representatives. They will also meet with Senator Loren Legarda who chairs the counterpart senate committee for cultural communities on the same day.

They will hold separate dialogues with Chairperson Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Chairperson Pawid of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to present and demand action to cases of discrimination, militarization, recruitment of IP children by rebel groups, FPIC violations leading to development aggression, displacement, killings, violations of indigenous culture and self governance.

The highlight of their lobby actions will be an audience with President Aquino in Malacanang Palace on Friday where they will demand that his administration will work to end the historical injustices against the indigenous peoples that continue to manifest today in the form discrimination in basic services and development opportunities for IPs specially women and children; the endless cycle of violence in ancestral domains brought about by development aggression, militarization and human rights violations; and the disrespect and attacks on indigenous peoples culture, land and resources, self governance and right to self determination.

They will make an immediate demand that President Aquino rescind this approval for the creation of mining militias which would only lead to more violence and killings in ancestral domains like the assassination of Fr. Fausto Tentorio who is a known IP supporter and anti mining advocate.

IP woman Wilma Tero, one of the participants and a Subanen from Midasalip, Zamboanga del Sur hopes to personally convey her community’s call for a moratarium on mining activities to the President.

“Nagahandum ko nga hatagan sa Presidente ug kasulbaran ang problema sa akong mga kaigsoonang Teduray diin ang ilang yutang kabilin gisakop sa kompanya sa logging nga gipanag-iyahan sa mga Consunji” said participant Timuay Rizaldo Anggay, a Teduray from Ampatuan, Maguindao. (I am expecting that the President will provide solution to the problem of my Teduray brothers and sisters which ancestral domain was encroached by a logging company owned by the Consujis.)

The lobby tour will be capped by a remembrance ceremony for all martyred IP leaders and IP rights defenders at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Satuday where they will be joined in by memb ers of IP organizations, support groups, and human rights advocates.###


Erwin B. Quinones
Community Paralegal
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center
Kasama sa Kalikasan
Friends of the Earth Philippines
(LRC/KsK-FoE Phils)

Source: http://lrcksk.org/main/2011/10/ip-leaders-in-manila-to-seek-peace-and-justice-in-their-ancestral-domains/

Militia protection for mining: Against whom?

Indigenous Women Ask

President Noynoy Aquino recently approved the military proposal to allow mining companies to form and fund militias or Special Civilian Active Auxiliary units.

In just 9 days after the Surigao mining attack, the Aquino administration has immediately acted on the demand of the mining industry for protection.

We now ask – protection against whom?

In our meeting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials, one said that the militias are necessary to protect the mining companies from attacks and threats to foreign investments.

This sends chills to our bones.  This sounds like a blanket call to intensify attacks against us – protectors of the environment and defenders of our indigenous communities, who have often been referred to as anti-development, and threats to investments.

As indigenous women, we have been struggling for so long against mining in our territories – as mining destroys our watersheds in Mindoro and in Negros Occidental; mining poisons our rivers in Agusan del Sur; causes divisiveness among our Subanen people, destroys our sources of food in Zambales, in Nueva Vizcaya and desecrates our sacred lands in Misamis Oriental. Mining violently forces our communities to leave our lands.

As defenders of our rights, we organize campaigns, we sign petitions, we write complaints, we seek for dialogues, we file cases, we take to the streets, and some of us, have launched hunger strike for more than a week. We monitor, document, report and expose violations committed by the mining companies in our areas.

As a result, our leaders have been killed. We experience harassment and threats. We have been labeled as NPA-supporters, or rebels ourselves. Prices are put on our heads.  All these, because we oppose mining; because we exercise our right to say no to mining; and we assert our right to our land.

Through all this, we get no protection from the government. We have no assurance that we can continue to assert our rights free from harassment, threats and violence.  With this approval of P’Noy to form and fund militias for the protection of mining companies, we fear for the escalation of violence against us, in our communities. We fear for our security, for our lives.

Militias, which have been organized and funded by different politicos and companies, have a long track record of human rights violations against women and men from indigenous communities who defend our territories from encroachment and destruction.  And these violations have enjoyed immunity, all in the name of defending investments and so-called national interest.

Who then do we turn to, to protect us? If P’Noy who we expected to enforce changes in our system and governance, has resulted to the same militaristic response against our legitimate concerns and issues against mining, then we are losing hope in this government.

And so, we turn to ourselves, and draw inspiration and strength from each other – we, indigenous women from mining-affected and other development project-affected communities.  And we hope that this solidarity will protect us from those who consider us threats to their investments, and obstacles to their opportunity to earn for themselves.

Because now we realize, we only have ourselves to rely on.

As we now know who the real boss is of PNoy.

SPECIAL COMMITTEE of the KORONADAL IP WOMEN GATHERING

Signed by

Bae Anahaw Ruth C. Tila-on (Manobo/ Agusan del Sur)
Conchita Bigong (Alangan-Mangyan  / Oriental Mindoro)
Nena “Bae Rose” D. Undag (Higaonon / Misamis Oriental)
Nilda M. Mangilay (Subanen / Zamboanga del Norte)
Judith P. Maranes (Ibaloi / Baguio City)
Shirley D. Sombuador (Ati-Bukidnon / Bacolod, Negros Occidental)
Marilyn V. Masaganda (Aeta / Capas, Tarlac)
Maria Tialang (Blaan / South Cotabato)
Lily Quindo (Blaan / South Cotabato)

(The Koronadal IP Women Gathering held in Marbel, South Cotabato last July 22-24, 2011 was participated in by 56 women from different indigenous communities. The women developed and came up with an Indigenous Women Declaration which contains their plight and situation, as well as their demands from the government.)

Contact through – judy a. pasimio /Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center
Judy.pasimio@lrcksk.org / 9281372
Source: http://lrcksk.org/main/2011/10/militia-protection-for-mining-against-whom/

Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of creation

Message of Blessed John Paul II for the celebration of the WORLD DAY OF PEACE, January 1, 1990

INTRODUCTION

1. IN OUR DAY, there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of DUE RESPECT FOR NATURE, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life. The sense of precariousness and insecurity that such a situation engenders is a seedbed for collective selfishness, disregard for others and dishonesty.

Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. The public in general as well as political leaders are concerned abut this problem, and experts from a wide range of disciplines are studying its causes. Moreover, a new ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS is beginning to emerge which, rather than being downplayed, ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programs and initiatives.

2. Many ethical values, fundamental to the development of a PEACEFUL SOCIETY, are particularly relevant to the ecological question. The fact that many challenges facing the world today are interdependent confirms the need for carefully coordinated solutions based on a morally coherent world view.

For Christians, such a world view is grounded in religious convictions drawn from Revelation. That is why I should like to begin this Message with a reflection on the biblical account of creation. I would hope that even those who do not share these same beliefs will find in these pages a common ground for reflection and action.

I. “AND GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD”

3. In the Book of Genesis, where we find God’s first self-revelation to humanity (Gen 1-3), there is a recurring refrain: “AND GOD SAW IT WAS GOOD”. After creating the heavens, the sea, the earth and all it contains, God created man and woman. At this point the refrain changes markedly: “And God saw everything he had made, and behold, IT WAS VERY GOOD” (Gen 1:31). God entrusted the whole of creation to the man and woman, and only then—as we read—could he rest “from all his work” (Gen 2:3).

Adam and Eve’s call to share in the unfolding of God’s plan of creation brought into play those abilities and gifts which distinguish the human being from all other creatures. At the same time, their call established a fixed relationship between mankind and the rest of creation. Made in the image and likeness of God, Adam and Eve were to have exercised their dominion over the earth (Gen 1:28) with wisdom and love. Instead, they destroyed the existing harmony BY DELIBERATELY GOING AGAINST THE CREATOR’S PLAN, that is, by choosing to sin. This resulted not only in man’s alienation from himself, in death and fratricide, but also in the earth’s “rebellion” against him (cf. Gen 3:17-19; 4:12). All of creation became subject to futility, waiting in a mysterious way to be set free and to obtain a glorious liberty together with all the children of God (cf. Rom 8:20-21).

4. Christians believe that the Death and Resurrection of Christ accomplished the work of reconciling humanity to the Father, who “was pleased … through (Christ) to reconcile to himself ALL THINGS, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:19-20). Creation was thus made new (cf. Rev. 21:5). Once subjected to the bondage of sin and decay (cf. Rom. 8:21), it has now received new life while “we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pt 3:13). Thus, the Father “has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery … which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite ALL THINGS in him, all things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:9-10).

5. These biblical considerations help us to understand better THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMAN ACTIVITY AND THE WHOLE OF CREATION.

When man turns his back on the Creator’s plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order. If man is not at peace with God, then earth itself cannot be at peace: “Therefore the land mourns and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and even the fish of the sea are taken away” (Hos 4:3).

The profound sense that the earth is “suffering” is also shared by those who do not profess our faith in God. Indeed, the increasing devastation of the world of nature is apparent to all.

It results from the behavior of people who show a callous disregard for the hidden, yet perceivable requirements of the order and harmony which govern nature itself.

People are asking anxiously if it is still possible to remedy the damage which has been done. Clearly, an adequate solution cannot be found merely in a better management or a more rational use of the earth’s resources, as important as these may be. Rather, we must go to the source of the problem and face in its entirety that profound moral crisis OF WHICH THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT IS ONLY ONE TROUBLING ASPECT.

 II. THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS: A MORAL PROBLEM

6. Certain elements of today’s ecological crisis reveal its moral character. First among these is the INDISCRIMINATE APPLICATION of advances in science and technology. Many recent discoveries have brought undeniable benefits to humanity. Indeed, they demonstrate the nobility of the human vocation to participate RESPONSIBLY in God’s creative action in the world. Unfortunately, it is now clear that the application of these discoveries in the fields of industry and agriculture have produced harmful long-term effects. This has led to the painful realization that WE CANNOT INTERFERE IN ONE AREA OF THE ECOSYSTEM WITHOUT PAYING DUE ATTENTION BOTH TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH INTERFERENCE IN OTHER AREAS AND TO THE WELL-BEING OF FUTURE GENERATIONS.

The gradual depletion of the ozone layer and the related “greenhouse effect” has now reached crisis proportions as a consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs. Industrial waste, the burning of fossil fuels, unrestricted deforestation, the use of certain types of herbicides, coolants and propellants,: all of these are known to harm the atmosphere and environment. The resulting meteorological and atmospheric changes range from damage to health to the possible future submersion of low-lying lands.

While in some cases the damage already done may well be irreversible, in many other cases it can still be halted. It is necessary, however, that the entire human community—individuals, States and international bodies—take seriously the responsibility that is theirs.

7. The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of RESPECT FOR LIFE evident in many patterns of environmental pollution. Often, the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers, while economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples. In these cases, pollution or environmental destruction is the result of an unnatural and reductionist vision which at times leads to a genuine contempt for man.

On another level, delicate ecological balances are upset by the uncontrolled destruction of animal and plant life or by a reckless exploitation of natural resources. It should be pointed out that all of this, even if carried out in the name of progress and well- being is ultimately to mankind’s disadvantage.

Finally, we can only look with deep concern at the enormous possibilities of biological research. We are not yet in a position to assess the biological disturbance that could result from indiscriminate genetic manipulation and from the unscrupulous development of new forms of plant and animal life, to say nothing of unacceptable experimentation regarding the origins of human life itself. It is evident to all that in any area as delicate as this, indifference to fundamental ethical norms, or their rejection, would lead mankind to the very threshold of self-destruction.

RESPECT FOR LIFE, AND ABOVE ALL FOR THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON, IS THE ULTIMATE GUIDING NORM FOR ANY SOUND ECONOMIC, INDUSTRIAL OR SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS.

The complexity of the ecological question is evident to all.

There are, however, certain underlying principles, which, while respecting the legitimate autonomy and the specific competence of those involved, can direct research towards adequate and lasting solutions. These principles are essential to the building of a peaceful society; no peaceful society can afford to neglect either respect for life or the fact that there is an integrity to creation.

III. IN SEARCH OF A SOLUTION

8. Theology, philosophy, and science all speak of a harmonious universe, of a “cosmos” endowed with its own integrity, its own internal, dynamic balance. THIS ORDER MUST BE RESPECTED. The human race is called to explore this order, to examine it with due care and to make use of it while safeguarding its integrity.

On the other hand, the earth is ultimately A COMMON HERITAGE, THE FRUITS OF WHICH ARE FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, “God destined the earth and all it contains for the use of every individual and all peoples” (Gaudium et Spes, 69). This has direct consequences for the problem at hand. It is manifestly unjust that a privileged few should continue to accumulate excess goods, squandering available resources, while masses of people are living in conditions of misery at the very lowest level of subsistence. Today, the dramatic threat of ecological breakdown is teaching us the extent to which greed and selfishness—both individual and collective—are contrary to the order of creation, an order which is characterized by mutual interdependence.

9. The concepts of an ordered universe and a common heritage both point to the necessity of a MORE INTERNATIONALLY COORDINATED APPROACH TO THE MANAGEMENT OF THE EARTH’S GOODS. In many cases the effects of ecological problems transcend the borders of individual States; hence their solution cannot be found solely on the national level. Recently there have been some promising steps towards such international action, yet the existing mechanisms and bodies are clearly not adequate for the development of a comprehensive plan of action. Political obstacles, forms of exaggerated nationalism and economic interests—to mention only a few factors—impede international cooperation and long-term effective action.

The need for joint action on the international level DOES NOT LESSEN THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH INDIVIDUAL STATE. Not only should each State join with others in implementing internationally accepted standards, but it should also make or facilitate necessary socio-economic adjustments within its own borders, giving special attention to the most vulnerable sectors of society. The State should also actively endeavor within its own territory to prevent destruction of the atmosphere and biosphere, by carefully monitoring, among other things, the impact of new technological or scientific advances. The State also has the responsibility of ensuring that its citizens are not exposed to dangerous pollutants or toxic wastes. THE RIGHT TO A SAFE ENVIRONMENT is ever more insistently presented today as a right that must be included in an updated Charter of Human Rights.

IV. THE URGENT NEED FOR A NEW SOLIDARITY

10. The ecological crisis reveals the URGENT MORAL NEED FOR A NEW SOLIDARITY, especially in relations between the developing nations and those that are highly industrialized. States must increasingly share responsibility, in complimentary ways, for the promotion of a natural and social environment that is both peaceful and healthy.

The newly industrialized States cannot, for example, be asked to apply restrictive environmental standards to their emerging industries unless the industrialized States first apply them within their own boundaries. At the same time, countries in the process of industrialization are not morally free to repeat the errors made in the past by others, and recklessly continue to damage the environment through industrial pollutants, radical deforestation, or unlimited exploitation of non-renewable resources. In this context, there is urgent need to find a solution to the treatment and disposal of toxic wastes.

No plan or organization, however, will be able to effect the necessary changes unless world leaders are truly convinced of the absolute need for this new solidarity, which is demanded of them by the ecological crisis and which is essential for peace. THIS NEED PRESENTS NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR STRENGTHENING COOPERATIVE AND PEACEFUL RELATIONS AMONG STATES.

11. It must also be said that the proper ecological balance will not be found without DIRECTLY ADDRESSING THE STRUCTURAL FORMS OF POVERTY that exist throughout the world. Rural poverty and unjust land distribution in many countries, for example, have led to subsistence farming and to the exhaustion of the soil. Once their land yields no more, many farmers move on to clear new land, thus accelerating uncontrolled deforestation, or they settle in urban centers which lack the infrastructure to receive them. Likewise, some heavily indebted countries are destroying their natural heritage, at the price of irreparable ecological imbalances, in order to develop new products for export. In the fact of such situations it would be wrong to assign the responsibility to the poor alone for the negative environmental consequences of their actions. Rather, the poor, to whom the earth is entrusted no less than to others, must be enabled to find a way out of their poverty.

This will require a courageous reform of structures, as well as new ways of relating among peoples and States.

12. But there is another dangerous menace which threatens us, namely, war. Unfortunately, modern science already has the capacity to change the environment for hostile purposes.

Alterations of this kind over the long term could have unforeseeable and still more serious consequences. Despite the international agreements which prohibit chemical, bacteriological and biological warfare, the fact is that laboratory research continues to develop new offensive weapons capable of altering the balance of nature.

Today, any form of war on a global scale would lead to incalculable ecological damage. But even local or regional wars, however, limited, not only destroy human life and social structures, but also damage the land, ruining crops and vegetation as well as poisoning soil and water. The survivors of war are forced to begin a new life in very difficult environmental conditions, which in turn create situations of extreme social unrest, with further negative consequences for the environment.

13. Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it TAKES A SERIOUS LOOK AT IS LIFESTYLE. In many parts of the world society is given to instant gratification and consumerism while remaining indifferent to the damage which these cause. As I have already stated, the seriousness of the ecological issue lays bare the depth of man’s moral crisis. If an appreciation of the value of the human person and of human life is lacking, we will also lose interest in others and in the earth itself. Simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice, must become a part of everyday life, lest all suffer the negative consequences of the careless habits of a few.

AN EDUCATION IN ECOLOGICAL RESPONSIBILITY is urgent: responsibility for oneself, for others and for the earth. This education cannot be rooted in mere sentiment or empty wishes. Its purpose cannot be ideological or political. It must not be based on a rejection of the modern world or a vague desire to return to some “paradise lost”. Instead, a true education in responsibility entails a genuine conversion in ways of thought and behavior.

Churches and religious bodies, non-governmental and governmental organizations, indeed all members of society, have a precise role to play in such education. The first educator, however, is the family, where the child learns to respect his neighbor and to love nature.

14. FINALLY, THE AESTHETIC VALUE OF CREATION CANNOT BE OVERLOOKED. Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity. The Bible speaks again and again of the goodness and beauty of creation, which is called to glorify God (cf. Gen 1:4ff; Ps 8:2; 104:1ff; Wis 13:3-5; Sir 39:16, 33; 43:1, 9). More difficult perhaps, but no less profound, is the contemplation of the works of human ingenuity. Even cities can have a beauty all their own, one that ought to motivate people to care for their surroundings. Good urban planning is an important part of environmental protection, and respect for the natural contours of the land is an indispensable prerequisite for ecologically sound development. The relationship between a good aesthetic education and the maintenance of a healthy environment cannot be overlooked.

V. THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS: A COMMON RESPONSIBILITY

15. Today the ecological crisis has assumed such proportions as to be THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERYONE. As I have pointed out, its various aspects demonstrate the need for concerted efforts aimed at establishing the duties and obligations that belong to individuals, peoples, States and international community. This not only goes hand in hand with efforts to build true peace, but also confirms and reinforces those efforts in a concrete way. When the ecological crisis is set within the broader context of THE SEARCH FOR PEACE within society, we can understand better the importance of giving attention to what the earth and its atmosphere are telling us: namely, that there is an order in the universe which must be respected, and that the human person, endowed with the capability of choosing freely, has a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being of future generations. I wish to repeat that THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS IS A MORAL ISSUE.

Even men and women without any particular religious conviction, but with an acute sense of their responsibilities for the common good, recognize their obligation to contribute to the restoration of a healthy environment. All the more should men and women who believe in God the Creator, and who are thus convinced that there is a well-defined unity and order in the world, feel called to address the problem. Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith. As a result, they are conscious of a vast field of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation opening up before them.

16. At the conclusion of this Message, I should like to address directly my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church, in order to remind them of their serious obligation to care for all creation. The commitment of believers to a healthy environment for everyone stems directly from their belief in God the Creator, from their recognition of the effects of original and personal sin, and from the certainty of having been redeemed by Christ. Respect for life and for the dignity of the human person extends also to the rest of creation, which is called to join man in praising God (cf. Ps 148:96).

In 1979, I proclaimed Saint Francis of Assisi as the heavenly patron of those who promote ecology (cf. Apostolic Letter Inter Sanctos: AAS 71 [1979], 1509f). He offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation. As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation—animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon—to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.

It is my hope that the inspiration of Saint Francis will help us to keep ever alive a sense of “fraternity” with all those good and beautiful things which Almighty God has created. And my he remind us of our serious obligation to respect and watch over them with care, in light of that greater and higher fraternity that exists within the human family.

From the Vatican, 8 December 1989

 

He followed the Man of Nazareth all the way to Arakan

By 
Source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/81353/he-followed-the-man-of-nazareth-all-the-way-to-arakan

http://www.balitapinoy.net/images/4.jpg The fatal shooting of Fr. Fausto Tentorio of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in the early morning of Oct. 17 is one more violent incident marring Arakan Valley, a place of immense beauty and natural wealth.

Traversing fertile land from Cotabato to the boundaries of Bukidnon and Davao City, Arakan and its adjacent areas that include sloping hills and steep mountains have contributed to making Mindanao the fabled Land of Promise for migrant settlers and wealth-seekers.

The Manobo had lived since time immemorial in Arakan and its lush forests. They worshiped Manama, their supreme deity. Their “walian” (shamans) had “abyan” (guardian spirits) and offered rituals to the spirit world. Their “bagani” (warriors) fought battles to defend their communities, which is why the Manobo honor their “pangayaw” (war-waging) tradition.

Across this landscape were signposts to remind them of important events in the lives of their heroes. These events are incorporated in their epic “Ulahingan,” which continues to be chanted today, and which depicts a brave people resisting any attempt to dominate them.

But while the Manobo were fierce, harmony and mutuality were maintained in the tribe through customs and laws. The precolonial period allowed them to establish their sense of identity vis-à-vis the neighboring tribes.

It was in the 1950s when the colonization of the Manobo life-world drastically changed the life of the Lumad. Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Italian, was not the first foreigner to penetrate the interior of Central Mindanao.

Cattle ranching

In the 1920s—half a century before Father Fausto arrived, at the very height of the US occupation—Americans encroached on the adjacent province of Bukidnon. They saw its tremendous economic potential, specifically in cattle ranching.

The ranches expanded, so that there were more than 60,000 head of cattle in Bukidnon by the end of the 1930s. More ranchers came and pushed into vast tracts of land, gradually displacing the Bukidnon, Talaandig, Higaonon and Matigsalug from their ancestral domain.

Eventually, the ranchers crossed the boundary to Cotabato. One of them was Augusto Gana, a Tagalog settler who at one time was the mayor of the small town of Kidapawan. Armed with a pastoral lease agreement, he took over more than 1,000 hectares of land in Arakan for his ranch.

Gana sought the approval of the Manobo chieftains through agreements, which he did not fulfill. Eventually, chieftain after chieftain (mostly of the Ansabu clan) waged various pangayaw against him.

In retaliation, Gana expelled the Manobo from their land, burned their houses, destroyed their crops, and killed their leaders.

The pangayaw persisted throughout martial law until Manda Elizalde of Panamin found a way to get the chieftains to lay down their arms.

But not for long. More resistance flared, although it was more in terms of legal battles than armed uprisings.

More settlers

In the 1950s, peasants began arriving in Arakan hoping to own a piece of land they could till. They sought ways to get the Manobo to allow them to take over small plots in exchange for sardines, cigarettes and other goods from the lowlands.

An increasing number of the Manobo started retreating to the hinterlands. But they soon found that there were no more forests, and many were forced to live in peaceful coexistence with the settlers.

As more Christian Ilonggo reached Arakan, religious congregations sent missionaries to minister to them. The first to reach Arakan were members of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, but by the 1980s they had all moved out of Arakan.

There were PIME missionaries who came to the Philippines before Father Fausto. He himself arrived in 1978 and went straight to learn Cebuano-Bisaya at Maryknoll Language School in Davao City. (Later he would learn Ilonggo.)

I taught Philippine culture in this school, and that’s where I met the PIME missionaries including Father Fausto. I was then the executive secretary of the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference Secretariat, which was the bishops’ arm to promote the Basic Christian Communities (BCCs) as well as projects for the farmers, fisherfolk, workers, urban poor and Lumad in the area.

Hippie priest

One was struck by Father Fausto, fondly called Father Pops. With his sharp eyes, shoulder-length hair, and simple wardrobe (T-shirt, faded jeans, rubber slippers), he was a hippie Jesus look-alike.

One was easily drawn to him. He was gentle, soft-spoken, unobtrusive, and insisted on staying in the background. He worked hard on the language and was very interested to know about the Philippines, particularly Mindanao, the people’s culture, the evils of martial rule, and the people’s resistance.

At first meeting, one knew he was a progressive churchman with militant views on justice and the burning social issues of the day. But he was no rabble-rouser; he did not make radical speeches and fiery sermons. He listened intently to what people had to say and was very supportive of lay people.

He was a good team player.

His first assignment was in the PIME parish in Ayala just outside Zamboanga City. Later he was assigned to the Diocese of Kidapawan, first in the parish of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat.

In the early 1980s he was sent to Arakan.

At that time the valley was seething with the Manobo’s frustration as the arable land in their control quickly dwindled. Life was not rosy either for most of the migrant settlers, although they were a little better off than the Lumad.

But businessmen from the lowlands and local government bureaucrats aligned with the Marcos dictatorship—all well-protected by the military—continued to find ways to grab more fertile land.

The national democratic movement became attractive to both the Lumad and the peasants as it promised liberation from their oppression. Cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, found their way into Arakan and found sanctuary there.

Empowerment

Father Fausto initially assisted his confreres in building and strengthening BCCs, but soon decided to work full-time for the Manobo as part of the Tribal Filipino Apostolate.

He stayed in this apostolate for the rest of his life along with another confrere, Fr. Peter Geremia of the PIME. The Ilonggo Christians were not too pleased with this; they could not see why he favored the interests of the Manobo over theirs.

Father Fausto decided to address the plight of the Manobo who, like many of the Lumad in Mindanao, are the most neglected among our people in terms of government services and even the ministrations of the churches.

He trained Ilonggo staff set up literacy classes, health centers, and farm and other livelihood projects in order to provide the Manobo the skills they needed to improve their lives.

Hundreds of Manobo families benefited from these projects.

But the most pressing task was to stop the encroachment of outsiders on the remaining Manobo ancestral domain.

With the Manobo having little political power, Father Fausto and his staff realized that empowerment was imperative. Thus the massive organizing work in all the Manobo settlements, which led to the birth of the Manobo Lumadnong Panaghiusa (Malupa).

The powers-that-be soon took notice of the fast strengthening Malupa. Through the sheer force of unity and backed by the social capital of the Church, the Manobo struggled for self-determination. There were skirmishes with the military and its militia, but they were somehow able to advance their interests.

Father Fausto never took center stage in all these. With the Manobo empowered to take leadership, he took on the role of inspiring, supporting and affirming them.

At risk

But the PIME missionaries experienced harassment, and eventually two of them were shot dead for their commitment to the poor of Mindanao—Fr. Tullio Favali in Cotabato on April 11, 1985, and Fr. Salvador Carzedda in Zamboanga on March 20, 1992.

Father Fausto knew that he, too, was at risk. The danger became quite clear in 2003, when members of an anticommunist paramilitary group attempted to kill him while he was visiting a remote barangay in Kitaotao, Bukidnon.

Clear choice

Father Fausto made a clear choice. Like the Man from Nazareth whom he followed all the way to Arakan, he chose to be on the side of the most abandoned.

I knew him for almost four decades. I have the audacity to claim that he was my friend. He was always delighted whenever I visited him and spent time in Arakan.

In the chilly nights, he bared his soul as we talked about our hopes and dreams, struggles and frustrations.

He was fearless. Not once, not even in the worst of times, did I ever note fear in his heart. He lived simply in the company of the Manobo, at peace in the land that he loved.

With his death, Father Fausto has become a martyr. In the old days, a martyr was immediately declared a saint. But to label him a saint would surely make him laugh!

(Editor’s Note: The author, a Redemptorist brother, grew up in the 1950s in Digos, Davao del Sur, where settlers like his family coexisted with Lumad and Moros. He holds a Ph.D. in Philippine studies from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, and is the author of the book “Manobo Dreams in Arakan: A People’s Struggle to Keep their Homeland” (2011). The book is a comprehensive account of the struggle of the Manobo in Arakan Valley to keep their ancestral lands and, in the process, assert their cultural identity.)

Philippine mining wealth seen at $840B

By: 
Source: http://business.inquirer.net/26151/philippine-mining-wealth-seen-at-840b

The Philippines’ potential mining wealth is estimated to reach $840 billion (P47 trillion), or 10 times the country’s annual gross domestic product, according to Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) president Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez.

In a speech during a Philippine Mining Club luncheon, Romualdez said the mining industry could also help curb poverty, citing studies that the industry had a multiplier effect of 28 times on employment. This means that for every person directly employed in mining, 28 more jobs are created in allied and downstream industries.

This means the industry’s growth will help reduce unemployment and poverty, which remain the greatest challenges facing the government, he added.

If the country’s entire mining reserves were mined, the total mineral production could amount to $840 billion.

According to industry data, the Philippines ranks third in total gold deposits, fourth in copper, fifth in nickel and sixth in chromite. The country has 8.03 billion tons of copper, 4.91 billion tons of gold, 0.81 billion tons of nickel, 480.26 million tons of iron, 39.66 million tons of chromite and 433.88 million tons of aluminum.

However, Romualdez said concerns about security, tax system and mining policies of the government had limited the entry of foreign and local investments into the industry.

He criticized security-related and other issues that were plaguing the industry, including insurgent attacks on companies, church leaders relating the recent killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio to mining, restrictions imposed by local governments on mining operations and additional taxes planned by the government.

Such uncertainties, which companies have to deal with on top of huge exploration and development costs, have driven many investors away, including mining giants Anglo American and BHP Billiton.

Still, Romualdez said, the chamber would continue to promote and defend the industry. Asked whether companies should beef up security in their areas, he said investors, especially foreigners, were “uncomfortable” with that.

“We don’t want to appear as if we are militarizing our operations and that’s really the responsibility of the state. We will leave that issue to individual companies but we welcome the government’s response to the Surigao incident,” he said.

He said COMP had met with the police, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources after insurgents raided and burned the facilities of three mining companies in Surigao del Sur on Oct. 3.

Romualdez said the industry group had also provided inputs and was awaiting Malacañang’s national mining policy.

While this is happening, he said, mining companies were crafting a “Mining Scorecard” on social and environmental programs in partnership with nongovernment organizations and civil society groups, including the nonprofit Philippine Business for Social Progress and environmental protection group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines.

Comments to the article “Open pit mining is safer – Jesuit priest”

Comments to the article “Open pit mining is safer – Jesuit priest”
The Philippine Star (Agriculture under Business Features) October 9, 2011

Open pit mining is the worst and the most pollutive extraction method.  The technology of mining removes trees, other vegetation and topsoil and uses dynamite to break and pulverize rocks to facilitate the extraction of heavy metals from the ore in the form of iron sulfide or iron oxide.  It also uses acid and cyanide in heap leaching technique to melt and release metals from the ore.  Then, the metals are brought out of the country and sold to other countries. The Philippines does not benefit from mining because the Mining Act of 1995 gives tax holidays to mining companies which hire locals only as laundry women, cook, and unskilled laborers for fixing destroyed roads as in the case of Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay between Years 2005-2008.

After processing in the heap leach pad, the waste cyanide solution, still laden with toxic heavy metals, goes into the siltation pond which usually overflows during heavy rainfall and strong typhoons such as what has happened during Lafayette mining in 2005 that caused fishkills.  The heavy metals are cadmium, chromium,  copper, arsenic, lead, others.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has reported that these heavy metals cause a variety of illnesses and cancer to animals and humans.  Published studies describe impacts to plants which include destruction of chloroplast responsible for producing food, inhibition of root growth, inability to produce fruits due to pollen grain abortion and other effects.

Trees and other vegetation when present, accumulate groundwater through the “watershed effect”.  Here, the force of raindrops is cushioned by leaves resulting in gentle trickle which are held by dried leaves and twigs under the trees so that water is given time to percolate into the ground replenishing groundwater that comes out through the springs.  When trees are uprooted, changes in the local climate follow by increasing the air temperature and wind velocity, causing drought because groundwater could not anymore be replenished as a result of forest denudation.  Rains and typhoons carry away whatever topsoil is left in the area.  Toxic heavy metals are also scattered on the soil surface layer, hence, the forest could not anymore grow back to its original state because of toxic metals and lack of water and soil. The presence of these toxics also prevented the establishment of seedlings and saplings.

Mining in tropical island ecosystems with steep slopes such as the Philippines, destroy rivers and croplands downslope.  It also kill fishes and other marine life when toxic metals and cyanide end up in the sea during rains and typhoons. Thus, mining not only destroy the upland ecosystems, but also the livelihood in farmers and fisherfolks.  The project of “Responsible Mining” proponents simply plant trees only after years of mining operation, when the croplands are polluted, the rivers and the coral reefs are dead and could not attract juvenile fishes to settle.  These tree species are either metal accumulators or capable of sequestering metals through their roots causing toxic metals to be brought onto the surface and affect consumers of plants.  When the bodies of these plants die, the toxics will be on the surface layer and can be brought again by rains into the sea through run-off and streams to be deposited on croplands downslope, eventually to the sea threatening again marine life.

Desired ores are found in iron sulfide rocks where acid mine drainage (AMD) is generated naturally when these rocks are exposed to rains and oxygen, producing sulfuric acid and red iron sulfate precipitate that coat rocks and sediments.  The chemical reaction is aided by sulfur bacteria (Thiobacillus thiooxidans and Thiobacillus ferrooxidans) and the affected rivers and man-made channels appear red.

Many areas in the Philippines are composed of iron sulfide rocks as strong physical foundation of upland ecosystems allowing trees to have a strong foothold on these rocks. Mining removes this foundation by excavating, dynamiting, and pulverizing it, preventing the establishment of vegetation as what has happened in Hixbar mining site in Rapu-Rapu Island.  A more serious impact is AMD which is self-generating once it has started, and it can continue generating acid for hundreds of years, even after mining activities have ceased operation, affecting rivers and eventually the marine ecosystems.

Imagine, if mining will be allowed by our government in all areas in the Philippines where mineralized ores are found, what will become of our forest, our marine ecosystems, our sustainable livelihood in agriculture and fishery, and our country because the Mining Act of 1995 states that all areas in the Philippines are open to mining?

By:

Dr. Emelina G. Regis
Director/Professor
Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR)
Ateneo de Naga University

October 10, 2011

 

A Call for PNoy to End Violence vs Indigenous Peoples

October 24, 2011

In 2009, Presidential Order 1906 was signed declaring October as a national Indigenous Peoples (IP) month.

This month, the Indigenous Peoples month, 2 people were brutally murdered – an IP leader and a committed IP rights advocate. In October 14, Datu Roy Gallego, a chieftain of the Manobo tribe in Surigao del Sur, was shot dead in an ambush.  Datu Gallego was a broadcaster, and a known anti-mining tribal leader.

In October 17, Fr. Fausto Tentorio or Fr. Pops, an Italian priest who worked for the Filipino Indigenous peoples, was shot 10 times, with special bullets meant to explode inside the body to make death a certainty. Fr. Pops’, with his advocacy for the rights and welfare of the Lumads, was also known for this strong stance against mining.

The police and Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan who are looking into the death of Fr. Pops have been quoted as saying that they are looking “at the possibility that members of a local paramilitary group or of a private army employed by mining companies were behind the killing.” (PDI, 10/21/11,p.17)

Indeed, mining is slowly but surely being made synonymous to violence.  If before, the discussion on mining is about the death of biodiversity, rivers and seas, these days, mining is inextricably being linked to death of people who oppose it.  The most active and most vocal against mining are the indigenous peoples, as it is their communities who are being mined out, ravaged for profit. And it is their communities who are divided, displaced, further impoverished by the loss of their livelihood, and made hungrier by the loss of their sources of food.

Today, two strong voices – of a Lumad and for the Lumad – have been silenced forever.

Yet, the President wanted more protection for the mining companies.

This month, National IP month, few days before the murders, approval from President Aquino came of the military proposal to allow mining corporations to form and fund militias for their protection.

There are two ways we can look at this pronouncement by the President. One way is that, clearly, he is misinformed of what is happening on the ground. President Aquino may not have been informed of the long list of human rights violations suffered by the upland and other rural poor communities under the hands of militias – those who protect big businesses like logging and mining; as well as politicians who also benefit from these businesses.

The other way to look at it is that the President has made a clear stand – for mining and against those who oppose it.

Unfortunately, however one wants to look at it, the effect is the same – the indigenous peoples, like Datu Gallego, are penalized, militarized, threatened, and yes, even killed for defending their rights to their territories, to their lives. And those who support their cause, like Fr. Pops, share the same tragic fate. On the other hand, mining companies, which pose grave threats to the environment, the livelihoods of the peoples, the integrity of the communities, and to the lives of those who defend these, are given protection by the Aquino government.

This should not be allowed to happen. Not anymore.

In celebration of the National Indigenous Peoples Month, and in mourning of the death of Datu Gallego and Fr. Pops, we urgently call on President Aquino –

To end state impunity under his administration;

To bring justice to the deaths of Fr. Pops and Datu Gallego;

To withdraw his approval of forming and funding militia for the protection of mining companies;

To make mining companies accountable to the human rights violations they commit; and

To seriously and urgently look into and address the issues being raised against current mining operations and the entire government’s mining policy framework which does not respond to national development needs; which trades food and sustainable livelihoods to profits for corporations; does not give priority to community development, human rights and environmental protection.  One critical step to address this is to enact an alternative minerals management bill.

We strongly urge the President to listen and hear the call of the indigenous peoples and us, advocates.

Mr. President, it’s time now to listen not to the people who funded your presidential campaign, but to those who actually voted for you.

For the women and men of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC),
Judy A. Pasimio
Executive Director
judy.pasimio@lrcksk.org
www.lrcksk.org

09175268341

Alternative Law Groups’ Statement on the Mineral Management Bill

We, the Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG), a coalition of twenty (20) legal-resource non-government organizations,[1] express our support for the passage into law of the Mineral Management Bill.

We are alarmed at the worsening state of mining practices in the country and the scale through which the government pushes for the revitalization of the mining industry.

We have witnessed the destructive effects of mining on human and other life forms – violations of peoples’ rights, fish kill, environmental destruction, pollution, and effects on health including HIV and AIDS – which are glaringly illustrated in the cases of Canatuan in Zamboanga del Norte, in the communities in Benguet and in the wasted rivers of Marinduque;

We recognize that the destruction that mining causes do not only wreak havoc on our environment, but also cuts across the concerns of the various basic sectors whom we work with: the farmers, the fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, women and children, labor and the local governments;

We believe that there is a need to challenge the government’s misrepresentations that mining is the solution to the economic and social woes of this country;

We believe that there is a need to challenge the government’s misrepresentations regarding the benefits of mining, as well as the law and policy framework on which these premises were based.

We condemn and call for the scrapping of the oppressive Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act that threatens to displace communities from their lands and ancestral domains and that virtually allows full foreign ownership and control of our natural resources.

We condemn and call for the scrapping of the policy of the government that seeks to facilitate the approval of all kinds of mining permit applications in the shortest time possible that threaten the human and resource tenure rights of the poor and marginalized communities we represent.

We commit to work for a democratic and consultative process to enact an alternative mining law that will work for and protect the interest of the poor and marginalized sectors that have long been ignored by the government.

We commit to contribute, as a coalition, what we can to uphold the rights of the poor and the marginalized, and achieve a more ecologically sound, gender-fair, equitable system of resource management in the country.

_______________________________________

The ALG is a coalition of twenty (20) legal-resource non-government organizations that work for justice system reforms and the empowerment of the poor and marginalized sectors in the country.   ALG members:  Alternative Law Research and Development Center, Inc. (ALTERLAW), Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw, Inc. (BALAOD MINDANAW), Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), Educational Research and Devlopment Assistance Group (ERDA), Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), EnGendeRights, Inc. (EnGendeRights), Free Rehabilitation, Economic, Education and Legal Assistance Volunteers Association, Inc. (FREELAVA), Indigenous Peoples International Center for Policy Research and Education (TEBTEBBA), Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN), Kanlungan Center Foundation, Inc. (KANLUNGAN), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan-Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK-FOE Phils.), Paglilingkod Batas Pangkapatiran Foundation, Inc. (PBPF), Participatory Research Organization of Communities and Education Towards Struggle for Self-Reliance (PROCESS-PANAY), Pilipina Legal Resources Center (PLRC), Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN), Tanggapang Panligal ng Katutubong Pilipino (PANLIPI), Tanggol Kalikasan (TK), Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Women’s Legal Education, Advocacy and Defense Foundation, Inc. (WomenLEAD

51 mine applications rejected in Central Mindanao

By Bong S. Sarmiento

Saturday, October 22, 2011

KORONADAL CITY — Fifty-one mining applications have been rejected in Central Mindanao in line with the government’s “use it or lose it” policy to revive the mining industry, officials said.

Constancio Paye Jr., Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional director, said there was a total of 69 mining applications that were reviewed across the region in line with the policy that aims to give serious investors the chance to utilize prospective mineralized zones.

While the regional MGB office rejected 51 applications, it endorsed to the main office 18 others for possible approval.

“We denied their applications for failure to submit the necessary requirements, mainly the FPIC [Free and Prior Informed Consent] from the tribal communities despite repeated reminders,” Paye said.

An FPIC is a document where indigenous peoples give their consent for companies to operate in their ancestral lands.

Paye noted the disqualified mining companies are mostly based in Metro Manila and without any foreign backing.

Based on the regional MGB records, these companies have land applications ranging from 637 to 16,535 hectares in the different parts of Central Mindanao, a region covering the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.

Hernani Abdon, MGB regional licensing and records division chief, said the purged mining companies have pending applications since 2008 and earlier.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier directed the field offices to conduct a crackdown to cleanse non-moving mining applications as part of the government’s thrust to reform the mining sector.

MGB records earlier showed that there were at least 2,180 pending mining applications filed in various MGB regional offices.

Soccsksargen hosts the largest known undeveloped copper gold resources in Southeast Asia, a project pursued by Sagittarius Mines. Inc, which is controlled by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer.

Discovered in 1992, the Tampakan copper-gold deposit is 2.4-billion ton-mineral resource when measured at a 0.3 percent copper cut-off grade. It is estimated to contain 13.9 million tons of copper and 16.2 million ounces of gold, with potential for growth.

However, an open pit mining ban imposed by the Provincial Government of South Cotabato was seen as a barrier to the Tampakan project.

Investments for the commercial development of the Tampakan project were earlier pegged at $5.9 billion, including the provision of $900 million for a power station.

It is potentially the largest single foreign direct investment in the Philippines should the company proceed to commercial phase. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 22, 2011.