Mining in the Philippines and Earth Day
Mining and Earth Day in the Philippines
UCANEWS.COM April 22, 2013
Aquino government has 'no right' to mark Earth Day
Manila activists cite easing of mining restrictions and culture of impunity
Activists march in protest in Manila
- ucanews.com reporter, Manila
- April 22, 2013
Environmental activists today marked International Earth Day with protest actions around the country to expose "ecological destructions," including those allegedly caused by US military activities in the region.
"It is not coincidental that these environmental disasters have become more frequent ever since the US military intensified its activities in the Asia-Pacific," said youth activist Terry Ridon.
He said US military activities have "directly caused several major faux pas" including the toxic waste dumping of a US ship in Subic Bay and the grounding of a US military warship in the protected Tubbataha Reef National Park.
"These transgressions against our sovereignty and our environment should not be interpreted as isolated cases," Ridon said.
"[The Aquino administration] allowed foreign vessels to destroy significant areas of coral reefs in Tubbataha, not once but twice, and seems bent on letting the culprits off the hook," said Clemente Bautista Jr, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.
A Chinese fishing vessel also ran aground on Tubbatha two weeks ago, causing huge damage to marine life at the world heritage site.
Hundreds of environmental activists marched in Metro Manila today and denounced the government's attempt to join the international commemoration of Earth Day.
"Hypocritical," said Redemptorist priest Oliver Castor, advocacy officer of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, a partnership between NGOs, people’s organizations and church groups in the Philippines, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany.
Castor said the recent lifting of the moratorium on new mining applications further discredited the government.
"The government is hell bent on allowing the wholesale extraction of our minerals even if it will compromise our natural resources and the lives of our fellow Filipinos,” he said.
Leon Dulce of the group Task Force Justice for Environmental Defenders said the government has also failed to curb "state-sponsored impunity towards environmental activists."
Not a single case from the at least 66 recorded killings of environmental advocates has been resolved. A total of 26 killings of environmental activists were registered since Aquino came to power in 2010.
Prominent environmental activists killed in the past three years include broadcaster Gerry Ortega, botanist Leonard Co, and Italian missionary priest Pops Tentorio. (Source - UCANEWS)...................................................................................................................................
Mining in the Philippines - A Dirty Business
By Edwin C. Mercurio
Canada's minister of international co-operation, Julian Fantino, is quoted by the Toronto Star in its November 30 issue as calling for an increase in support thru CIDA for projects tied to mining companies working abroad.
In his speech to members of the Economic Club of Canada, Fantino said that "Developing countries are using natural resources - more and more - as a key economic driver to create jobs and provide governments with revenue to deliver services." Critics, however, slammed Fantino and the Harper conservative government for using CIDA-the Canadian International Development Agency - and inappropriately directing the $5billion foreign aid program to support Canadian business abroad such as mining.
CIDA's primary goal is poverty reduction in developing countries.
NDP Minister of Parliament Helene Laverdiere questioned Fanino in the House of Commons, on the use of CIDA funds to advance Canadian business abroad. Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada, which receives CIDA funding expressed his confusion regarding the Canadian government's new policy direction.
"Why, If your priority was reducing poverty and promoting human rights, would you identify Canadian mining corporations as your priority in terms of your vehicle for economic development and reducing poverty? That's not apparent to us," Fox told the Toronto Star's Tim Alamenciak.
The criticisms directed towards the Harper Conservative government and Canada's minister of international co-operation can be easily understood by reading "Massacre of Bilaan family premeditated," letter entitled "What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land?" signed by various church leaders of the Philippines and background information about the exploitation, abuses, human rights violations, irresponsible behaviour, utter neglect of their responsiblities and wanton disregard for the rights of Filipino citizens and indigenous communities committed by Canadian, British, Australian mining corporations and their subsidiaries.
Probe reveals massacre of Blaan family ‘premeditated
“The victims were unarmed and helpless, as most of them were still sleeping. It was only the elder son who was awake and in school uniform, sipping coffee outside the hut and who can be clearly seen and identified by the soldiers and yet they still fired at Jordan.”
By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
KIBLAWAN, Davao del Sur–A retired Philippine Army colonel allegedly played an active role in events that led to the massacre of a two-month old pregnant B’laan woman and her two sons last October 18.
Dan Balandra, reportedly a former colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a security consultant to Sagitarrius Mines, Inc. (SMI)-Xstrata, was seen at the site of the incident for three consecutive days before elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army killed Juvy Capion and her two sons.
According to witnesses, Balandra visited the Capion family three times, preceding the massacre of the pregnant Juvy, Jordan, 15 years old and John Mark, seven years old. A daughter, five-year-old Juvicky, survived the attack but was grazed by a bullet in her left ear.
The National Peace and Solidarity Mission led by the Justice for Capion Family, Justice for All Network to remote Alyong subvillage, Kimlawis village, this town, November 17, deemed that Balandra’s real motive was to ascertain Daguil and his family’s whereabouts for members of the 27th IBPA to strike.
The mission concluded that Balandra might have informed the military of Daguil’s possible presence in their fayahlob (farm hut).
Arminda (not her real name), a close relative, said Balandra was trying to convince Daguil, the head of the Capion family, to surrender, often bringing alcohol beverages that Balandra and Daguil drank in an adjacent hut. Balandra was also reported to have given Juvy P7,500 ($178) for a potato-growing contract project initiated by SMI-Xtrata as a community relations initiative with the tribe.
“It appears that SMI-Xstrata’s security consultant has knowledge of the military’s plan to wipe out the Capion family, and has informed the military of Daguil’s presence in the area,” Ryan Lariba, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Socksargen and head of the documentation team of the mission, said.
Balandra has not been seen in the area since the massacre.
Balandra’s role in the eventual massacre is part of a series of moves that included branding Daguil as a bandit and offering as much as P300,000 ($7,100) reward for his capture.
Remy (not her real name), another witness, told members of the mission that she was told by soldiers of the 27th IBPA that Daguil’s family would be ‘wiped out’ a few weeks before the massacre.
Kiblawan mayor Marivic Diamante was on record to be among the first who called Daguil a bandit and offered the reward money for his capture or killing.
Mayor Diamante also told the tribes people to follow military orders to stay in their respective subvillages and stop visiting their outlying farms because of the military’s presence and she could no longer assure them of their safety.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas also reportedly issued the same warnings against Daguil.
After the bounty has been placed for Daguil’ capture, Remy said, Lt. Dante Jimenez, commander of the bravo company of the 27th IBPA, boasted that Daguil’s capture or death was certain in three months. Such remark was oft repeated by Jimenez, Remy said, whenever he and his men would patrol the subvillages affected by SMI-Xstrata mining operations.
Jimenez was ground commander of the team that peppered the Capion’s house with bullets that fateful day of October 18.
“The bounty which translates into a shoot-to-kill order, the three-month deadline, and the branding of Daguil as a bandit made him and his entire family an open target,” Lariba said.
‘Not a bandit’
For a fulong, a well-respected B’laan clan elder, however, Daguil is not a bandit.
The elder admitted to the mission that it was their tribal council that decided to wage pangayaw or traditional tribal war against SMI-Xtrata in 2010.
The Capions initially supported SMI-Xtrata, including Daguil, who was employed by the mining company as a community relations staff for three years starting 2005. Daguil and Balandra first met as co-employees at the mining company.
The clan had a falling-out with the company when it ordered the Capions to leave their land, which SMI-Xstrata wanted to buy at a company-determined price.
The military, whom the Blaans believe to be in cahoots with SMI, also prevented community members from visiting surrounding forests, their traditional hunting and gathering grounds.
The Capions also refused the company’s proposed relocation site of Atmorok subvillage, which was even farther from Kimlawis village than Alyong subvillage where they live.
The fulong also said the tribe are at odds with Atmorok’s original inhabitants and are unwelcome to the area.
Juvy, meanwhile, joined Kasasatu Di Aktamang Idad Labi Manue Di Gtagak Akana Aktaga De Di’dad Ml’wein (Kalgad) or the Unity for the Defense of Indigenous Peoples and Ancestral Domain Against Mining, a people’s organization opposing SMI-Xstrata.
The pangayaw has since claimed the lives of several police officers and para-military forces tasked to guard SMI-Xstrata’s gold and copper mining activities. It has also confiscated firearms from the company guards.
But the Capions said they are just following and enforcing their customary laws against violators of their ancestral domain.
“When it comes to our land, our laws, and not of outsiders, apply,” the fulong said.
The mission also concluded that Juvy and her sons were massacred and were not merely caught in crossfire during an encounter as claimed by the 27th IBPA.
Arminda told the group she rushed to Daguil’s falahyob, after hearing bursts of gunfire from the location of the farm hut a few minutes after 6 a.m. of October 18.
When she arrived at the scene, which was one and a half kilometer from where she came from, she saw 14 soldiers with assault rifles still trained against the victims.
Aside from the dead victims, two other minors survived the attack. July (not her real name), five years old, and Juvy’s niece, Rosanna, (not her real name), 13 years old and, were also in the hut.
Toyang (not her real name), another witness and relative, overheard a soldier named Murillo and Lt. Jimenez saying both girls should also be killed to leave no witnesses.
Toyang claimed that soldiers pointed their guns at the two minors and Arminda.
The P7,500 Balandra was said to have given Juvy was also taken by the soldiers, Arminda added.
Witness Toyang also saw the soldiers cleaning the bloodied hut with water and rags after the shooting.
Toyang also protested the soldiers’ removal of the bodies, saying it must be the relatives who should recover them.
The soldiers ignored her and exposed the bodies in the sun, she added.
Toyang was also told by one of the soldiers that they would only allow the relatives to claim the remains of the victims when Daguil surrenders.
The soldiers prevented other community members who came to the scene hours after the incident to recover the bodies.
The soldiers, police and the para-military brought the victim’s remains inside Juvy’s house at Biaao subvillage at about 3 p.m. of the same day. This angered the community even more as bringing human remains inside B’laan houses are uncustomary.
“Results of our direct investigation at the site disprove the military’s claim that there was an encounter. Daguil was clearly absent and no one could have fired at the soldiers,” Promotion of Church People’s Response secretary general Nardy Sabino said.
The fayahlob stands in the middle of a flat farmland newly furrowed for corn planting.
Sabino also rues the military’s statement that the incident was a mere violation of rules of engagement.
“The victims were unarmed and helpless, as most of them were still sleeping. It was only the elder son who was awake and in school uniform, sipping coffee outside the hut and who can be clearly seen and identified by the soldiers and yet they still fired at Jordan,” Sabino said.
The 27th IBPA has been pulled out from the village due to alleged violations in the rules of engagement. No further disciplinary action has been taken.
The 27th IBPA has since been replaced by the 39th IBPA, a sister unit under the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Aside from taking over the former’s “Pioneering Camp” in the barangay, the latter also has detachments in seven of the village’s 13 sitios. Tribes people have been demanding the immediate pullout of all military units from their areas. 
Article printed from Bulatlat: http://bulatlat.com/main
BISHOPS SPEAK OUT AGAINST MINING
Alarmed over the perilous state of the country's natural endownments, Catholic Bishops of Eastern Visayas Islands of Leyte, Samar and Biliran on October 22, 2010 issued a statement to the Philippine Government to halt large scale mining on these islands.
The call to end the “socially divisive and environmentally destructive mining operations” in these picturesque islands was sent to Philippine Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon JP Paje.
Citing the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Pastoral Letter on Ecology, “What is Happening to our Beautiful Land,” the first pastoral letter of its kind worldwide in 1988 and even today, the bishops sounded off the alarm about the perilous state of the Philippine’s natural endowments.
“All living systems on land and in seas are being ruthlessly exploited. The damage to date (then) is extensive and, sad to say, irreversible.” We, the undersigned bishops call on all Filipinos to recognize the situation at hand and that such situation shall be responded with utmost urgency. “The task of preserving and healing is a daunting one given human greed and relentless drive of our plundered economy. But we must not lose hope.”
“As shepherds of our flock, it is our collective sentiments that the continuing drive for development of the Eastern Visayas region anchored on mining as well as other extractive economic pursuits only reinforce the irreversible trend of permanently damaging nature’s endowments. As a consequence the many lines of opportunities upon which our people can draw their life sustenance will definitely be threatened immensely. We ask ourselves, “Haven’t we learned the lessons of the past?” In our own reckoning, our people have so much to share about the adverse effects of mining to their livelihood, to their well-being as persons and as families, to the quality of life in their communities and to their own dignity as people of God.
According to the bishops’ statement, “ the Eastern Visayas Region has lately been the object of high level interest by certain sectors, both government and private, to pursue aggressively the development of mining in the region. During a mining forum in Tacloban in August this year, the Regional Director of the Mines and Geosciences Board (MGB) even boasted that the region will eventually be the top mining region in the country considering its vast mining potentials. In fact, even prior to the said forum, several mining permits to explore along with Mining Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) have been issued in many parts of the region extending the three islands – Samar, Leyte and Biliran. Moreover, small islands like Manicani and Homonhon in Eastern Samar and Batag Island in Northern Samar remain threatened by mining operations. In Manicani for instance, Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) has since initiated moves to lift the suspension of mining operations in the island. Homonhon, an historical island, after a few months respite from massive mining operations, again, is threatened by the application of a large mining permit by the Cambayas Mining, and the current small-scale mining operations granted to two permit holders by the local Mining Board. Same is also happening in Batag Island. The mainland of Samar and Leyte are not spared by the onslaught of mining permits (i.e. exploration permits, MPSAs, permit to extract among others) issued left and right by the Local Mining Board (small-scale) and the (MGB) for large scale.”
The Bishops also said that “mining experience in Bagacay is a very clear and compelling example of how bad mining is. After exploiting the area, the mining company left it abandoned and permanently destroyed. The people who had high hopes of being lifted from their sorry state of poverty were left to fend for themselves and grapple with the realities that there are no more fertile grounds to grow food or natural river systems to catch the fish for their day’s meal. The sorry state of Taft River to this very day is a perfect symbol of mining’s neglect and abandonment and waste.”
According to the bishops “The struggle of the people in the islands of Macani, Homonhon and Batag for more than a decade now is another clear testament that mining never lived up to its promise of improving the quality of life of the people. Instead, the islands’ source of livelihood had been systematically destroyed – the forest, the farmlands, mangroves, river systems, coral reefs among others. But more telling is the destruction of the islands’ social fabric – families and communities have been polarized. What pervades has been the situation of unpeace and disharmony. People in the islands have been constantly threatened by another prospect of systematic destruction of the island they call home.”
The statement also expressed concern over the government’s misplaced priorities and misleading information about the dangers of mining. “ Compounding these lessons on the effects of mining are the misplaced priorities of some of our local leaders who have acted more as agents of the mining firms rather than agents of the people. In many instances, highlighting the benefits of mining and ignoring the ‘real’ costs are concrete examples how people are being misled or misinformed about mining. In many instances still, the financial levers of mining make their way to the different levels of the decision flow to get favourable cognizance or acceptance.”
In reference to the Pastoral Letter on Ecology, the bishops concluded, “Indeed, the collective observation and sentiments, then, were very profound and prophetic. Our observations still very valid and evident to this day, and our call for action remains as urgent as ever. Most parts of the country today are still in perilous state because of too much development aggression, particularly mining and logging.”
The statement concludes by calling to tasks government leaders and reminding them of the inherent right of peoples to a clean and better environment and brighter future for generations to come.
“Weighing down the benefits and cost of mining whether it is economic, social or environmental; judging on the lessons of the past and prospects of the future generations; and, reflecting on our role as Stewards of God’s creation, we, the bishops of Eartern Visayas, call on to our responsible leaders in government, in the private sector and all those who harbour intentions of mining our region to listen to the voices of our people, “Bring back the Beautiful Land we once had; STOP MINING IN OUR REGION.”
The statement was signed by:
+Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, DD Archbishop, Archdiocese of Palo +Most Rev. Felomino G. Bactol, DD
Bishop, Diocese of Naval
+Most Rev. Emmanuel C. Trance, DD
Bishop, Diocese of Catarman
+Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD
Bishop, Diocese of Maasin
+Most Rev. Crispin B. Varquez, DD
Bishop, Diocese of Borongan Bishop,
+Most Rev. Isabelo C. Abarquez, DD
Bishop, Diocese of Calbayog
Sources: Ellen Teague, UCANews, CBCP
MINING AS DIRTY BUSINESS: A BACKGROUNDER
By Edwin Mercurio
TORONTO - Love, acceptance and positive relationships often begin with an eighteen (18) karat gold ring or diamond studded necklace.
However, the means employed in the extraction of the things we value and appreciate are far from romantic. Mining companies that extract gold, diamond, silver, copper, aluminum and other minerals often adopt the “out of sight, out of mind” attitude in dealing with their toxic mine tailings in the third world. Hidden from the watchful eyes of the North American and European public, the activities and operations of transnational mining corporations are considered morally and socially unacceptable by Church groups and NGOs, environmentally and culturally destructive and violate the fundamental tenets of ancestral land rights of indigenous peoples and disregard the health concerns of citizens in underdeveloped countries.
Canadian mining companies with all their pretensions to the contrary are among the world’s worst polluters and transgress the laws of their host country with impunity. Their mining activities result in the degradation of the environment, promote genocide and biocide and human rights violations.
These were the salient points of a ‘Special Forum’ entitled “Mining: The Dirty Role of Canadian Corporations” held on October 6 at St. Vladimir Institute in Toronto.
Canadian Church, labor and community leaders presented an over all background on the operations of Canadian mining corporate activities in the developing countries of Asia and their impact on the economy, politics and environment of the region.
Ms. Bern Jagunos, Asia-Pacific Coordinator of the United Church of Canada and a member of the Philippine Solidarity Group of Toronto addressed the issue of foreign mining interests and the ongoing militarization in the Philippines.
Placer Dome’s (Marcopper) broken promises
Ms. Jagunos who hails from the Philippines, spoke about the environmental disaster caused by Marcopper Inc. which is 40% owned by Vancouver-based Placer Dome. Marcopper which operated in the heart-shaped island of Marinduque for more than 30 years has evoked fear about the risks of mine tailings dumped by the company into the Calancan Bay. That fear has turned into anger when in March 1996 more than 3 million tons of toxic mine tailings spilled into Boac river, clogging its arteries, killing all aquatic life and destroying the homes and properties of the communities around it.
It happened when a badly sealed tunnel in an old mine tailings pit burst open and disgorged its toxic contents. “Placer Dome recognized its responsibility and promised to clean up the river within six months. The company dredged a channel at the ocean mouth of Boac river to catch the tailings flowing down the river. However, because the coast was already previously covered with tailings from the spill, the channel was filled to capacity within months, causing further deterioration of the coast,” Jagunos said.
Placer Dome twice applied for permit to dump the tailings into the sea using Submarine Tailings Disposal or STD ( a method of disposal not allowed in Canada). “Twice, the application was denied by the Philippine government on the grounds that all offshore and submarine areas in the country are environmentally delicate and critical. The company was ordered to complete the clean up, and the rehabilitation and compensation of the victims. It refused to accept the ruling and halted all work on the river.”
The 1996 spill was not the first calamity caused by Placer Dome in Marinduque.
In 1993, a siltation dam collapsed pouring toxic mine waste into Mogpog river. That disaster killed all marine life and caused flooding which destroyed the rich farming areas along the river.
Toronto Ventures Inc.
Strong arm tactics
Calgary-based mining company Toronto Ventures Incorporated (TVI), PacificIncorporated is accused of harassment and intimidation of indigenous Subanen people in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. “ Violent dispersal, physical assault and harassment, illegal entry, food and economic blockades, illegal arrests and detention of Subanen people who opposed the mining operation” have been documented by local support groups, the Mennonite Central Committee in the Philippines, DCMI, a broad coalition of six Roman Catholic dioceses, non-governmental organizations and the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.
Crew Development Corp., based in Vancouver, acquired the gold mine concession in the island of Mindoro when it merged and later got full ownership of the Norwegian company Mindex in 1999.
In December 2000, a Crew subsidiary, Aglubang Mineral Corporation was granted a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement or MPSA, granting it the right to explore and develop over 2200 hectares of the concession area for 25 years. A substantial portion of Crew’s mining concession overlaps with the ancestral domain of the indigenous Mangyan peoples.
The island of Mindoro is considered as the third largest food producing province in the Philippines. The island’s watershed is critical for the irrigation of 70% of the rice farms, fruit trees and drinking water source. It is also one of the top bio-diversity sites in the world.
The fate of Tablas Strait hangs precariously on edge as “Crew plans to dump about 4 million mine tailings into the sea at Tablas Strait using Submarine Tailings Disposal, the same strait where Placer Dome dumped tailings from its spill. When that happens, all of these natural resources will be threatened with destruction. This will in turn result in the massive displacement of indigenous Mangyan people,” Ms. Jagunos explained.
Public opinion against the environmentally destructive mine tailings disposal galvanized the opposition to the plan. Those opposing include Roman Catholic bishops, priests and religious groups, Protestant churches, people’s organizations, indigenous peoples, farmers, NGOs, professionals and human rights workers. A broad coalition was formed which also drew support from the provincial government and municipal councils.
Due to overwhelming public opposition, the Philippine government was forced to revoke Crew’s MPSA in July 2001 citing the need to protect critical watersheds and the food security of the province. In January 2002, the provincial government passed an ordinance banning all forms of mining in Mindoro for 25 years.
Mining divides communities
According to Ms. Jagunos, the mining projects have divided the communities in all three cases. The Indigenous People’s Rights Act in the Philippines stipulates that mining companies must secure the free and prior approval of the affected communities.
In Mindoro, after Mindex/Crew was told by the Philippine National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that the best way to secure support for the mine was to set up a new Mangyan people’s association, it formed an association called Kabilogan (the whole community) composed mainly of Mindex/Crew employees, including its chair.
Leaders and members of the new organization admitted to receiving rewards from the company in the form of water buffalos, agricultural machinery and cash.
After the new association held a meeting inside company premises and issued a statement of support for the mine, NCIP issued a certification that the Crew subsidiary, Aglubang Mining Co. had the agreement of the community.
In Zamboanga del Norte, a similar divide and rule tactic was used by Toronto Ventures Inc. After years of failing to secure the support of the Subanon Sioco Association in the concession area, employees of the company and supporters including Subanon from another community, with TVI support, attempted to take over the Association and replace the leadership with company workers and supporters.
In Marinduque, Placer Dome Inc. (PDI) commissioned a Social Impact Assessment which reported that giving generous compensation to the spill victims would encourage dependency. PDI, then, employed local NGOs to recruit community support behind Placer Dome’s proposed development projects. Those who questioned it were labeled anti-development.
At the same time, “PDI denied its responsibility for lost livelihood of fishermen in Calancan Bay and farmers in Mogpog. It also denied culpability for cases of metal poisoning and other illnesses affecting some villagers,” Ms. Jagunos said.
In the Boac, Marinduque case, “ the committee which oversees compensation continued to delay paying the victims. It now required victims to pass a lie detector test claiming they are lying.”
“An October 2001 report by the consultant hired by Placer Dome to assess all dams and structures at the mine site came out with the findings that five structures need urgent repairs and a dam on the mountain in Mogpog and a tailing pit were in such a bad shape that collapse was very certain in the near future resulting in certain loss of lives downstream.
“The Philippine government ordered Placer Dome and the local company to fix the structures or face criminal charges should another disaster occur. In December 2001, Placer Dome completely left the Philippines without warning and failed to fix the dangerous structures until today.”
Militarization and Human Rights Violations
“The manipulative tactics of these Canadian mining companies gave rise to violence and grave human rights violations,” Ms. Jagunos explained.
Last March, protesters who were trying to prevent the start of TVI’s mine operation by blocking the entry of equipment to the mine site were fired at by company security guards. Twelve people, mostly indigenous people, were arrested.
In the mid 1990s, the company deployed at least 100 armed security guards, set up check points along the roads leading into the community of the Subanen tribe and for seven long years imposed a blockade which prevented food and other basic necessities from going into the community. People who attempted to cross the barricade were shot and injured. Company security guards spiked foot trails with hidden nails.
In Mindoro, the entry of Mindex/Crew also showed the sharp increase of militarization in the province.
After 9/11, the government used the pretext of “War Against Terror” to deploy more troops in Mindoro. The government exploited the situation in Mindoro to go after political opposition and critics of the government, including human rights workers. Thirty people have been killed in Mindoro since 2001 including leaders and members of organizations in the coalition opposing the Crew’s project.
Role of the Canadian Government
“Despite all these, the Canadian government continues to support TVI/Crew.
Two days after the Philippine Government revoked the permit of Crew in July 2001, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, Robert Collete, wrote to President Arroyo to protest the revocation. Collette also accompanied Crew’s CEO to visit the governor of Mindoro to discuss the latter’s opposition to the mine,” Ms. Jagunos stated.
“Going for the total liberalization of the mining industry will shave off our mountains from the trees that hold the land; poison the rivers, seas, farmlands and abort the yields of our land; worst, it will dig and shatter the very foundations of our mountains down to the core.” An Aeta (indigenous people
of Central Luzon) leader from Central Luzon, Philippines.
The year 1995 saw the passing of the Philippine Mining Act. The act signed by former President Fidel Ramos aims to attract foreign mining companies to exploit mineral resources in the country. It liberalized the mining industry by removing restrictions and offering numerous incentives such as tax holidays and easement rights - meaning the right of mining companies to remove settlers and indigenous peoples from their ancestral abode.
Ten years of resistance by churches, communities and social movements appeared to have scored a success when the Philippine Supreme Court declared in January this year that several provisions of the Mining Act of 1995 violate the constitution. However, two months after the Supreme Court ruling, the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reversed its decision that revoked Crew’s mining permit. Meanwhile, the struggle of communities affected by Canadian mining companies continues.(Article written and published October and November 2004)