Saturday, July 11, 2015

Please sign the petition to SCRAP THE MINING ACT OF 1995

Urging the Philippine Congress to Repeal the Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and Enact a Patriotic, Pro-Indigenous Peoples, and Pro-Environment Law.

Pass House Bill 171: People's Mining Bill!


Mining is crucial to nation building. And the Philippines, rich in mineral deposits of metallic and non-metallic resources and even globally ranked high in terms of mineral reserves, has the potential to achieve this goal. However the mining industry in the Philippines remains to be highly extractive, export oriented and foreign dominated, and not geared towards developing national industries and modernization of agriculture. Mining benefits a few big foreign mining corporations and its local partners at the expense of the vast majority of the Filipino people and the environment.

The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942 strengthened this mining scheme. It completely liberalized the mining industry in the country to entice foreign investors. This law gave impetus to the unhampered plunder of our remaining natural resources. It gives more benefits and incentives to transnational corporations far greater than those provided to Filipino entrepreneurs thru its provisions that allow:

1. Up to 100% foreign owned capital and repatriation profit

2. Freedom from requisition of investment and freedom from expropriation

3. Tax exemption for a grace period of 10 years

4. Easement rights, water rights and timber rights

5. Tariff and tax exemption for the materials and supplies imported for their mining operation or exploration and free use of port for 10 years

In the 19 years since the Mining Act was signed into law, the Filipino people experienced plunder of resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of the environment and ecosystem, human rights violations and loss of traditional livelihoods. Indigenous peoples rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination are grossly violated. Under the present law, the mining industry has not significantly contributed to economic growth and development.

The mining industry’s contribution is a measly 0.72% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of the PhP 1.15 trillon gross production value in mining from 1997 to 2012, the Philippine government only gained PhP 110 billion or less than 10% of the gross value from taxes, fees and royalties. The mining industry only employs an average of 200,000 workers annually or 0.43% of the total employment in our country, contrary to the government claims that this industry will generate jobs.

The Mining Act of 1995 opened the floodgates for the surge of mining projects in ancestral lands. It threatens not only the land and resources, but the very survival of indigenous communities affected. To date, there exist at least 712 approved mining applications covering 967,530.86 hectares of the country’s total land area. Of this, 251 applications covering 532,368.36 hectares (55% of the total land area approved for mining) are areas occupied by IP communities.

Mine-affected communities suffer displacement from their homes and livelihood, destruction of their water systems and resources areas. Worse, the culprits of the biggest mine disasters, such as Philex, Lepanto, Marcopper, Lafayette and Citinickel, remain unpunished and continue to operate. The sum of all the social and environmental destruction is not commensurate to the miniscule revenues the country gained from this industry.

The IPs together with the farmers, fisher folks, workers, women, church people, academe, youth and students, consistently call for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Information dissemination campaign and protest actions such as petition and signature campaign, caravans, picket rallies, putting up road barricades, placing placards along mountain trails, and directly confronting mining corporations through dialogues and lobby for a new pro-people mining law continue. Local Government Units (LGU) passed resolutions restricting mining in their localities. Indigenous peoples based on their traditional systems entered into pagta or peace pacts and others waged pangayaw or tribal war to defend their ancestral lands against the mining corporations in Northern Luzon and in Mindanao.

People’s resistance to large-scale and destructive mining resulting from a liberalized mining scheme under the Mining Act of 1995 are met with repression. Violation of human rights such as extra-judicial killings, different forms of threats, harassments, and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders and community members are rampant in areas with mining interests.

In this context, we, the indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, IP and human rights advocates, environmentalists, students, youth, women, artists, media, church people, academe, professionals, businessmen, government leaders and patriotic Filipinos call for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. We also call for the enactment of a mining bill that embodies the Filipino people’s desire for a mining industry that upholds national sovereignty and patrimony, social justice, environment protection and people’s rights and welfare. We reject the liberalized, foreign controlled and export-oriented mining industry.

It is high time for a rational and judicious use of our mineral wealth for domestic economy and genuine national development. We recognize that the cause and answer lies, to a large extent, in legislation.

WE PETITION THE PHILIPPINE CONGRESS to repeal the Republic Act 7942 or Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and enact a patriotic, pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment and responsible mining bill.

An action initiated by the SCRAP THE PHILIPPINE MINING ACT OF 1995 NETWORK

The SCRAP THE MINING ACT Network, Defend Ancestral Lands & Uphold National Patrimony!, is a broad campaign network of individuals, institutions and groups from the church, academe, legislature and legal community, different cause-oriented groups , IP rights advocates, environmentalists, journalists, cultural workers and other concerned groups who are united and committed to the call: Scrap the Mining Act of 1995, end liberalization of the mining industry and to advance a pro-indigenous peoples, patriotic, pro-environment and responsible mining policy.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cateel River and Aliwagwag Falls could be Destroyed by Agpet Mining

Press Statement
Panalipdan Southern Mindanao (Panalipdan-SMR)


Agusan Petroleum & Mining Corporation (Agpet) mining exploration could destroy the Aliwagwag Protected Landscape (APL), which was declared in 2011 through Presidential Proclamation 139.

The exploration permit E145 of Agpet was renewed November 2014, according to sources in the MGB. In the original permit, E145 includes areas inside the APL. In the new map posted in the MGB website, the APL area hit by the original E145 permit was erased*.

However, the exploration allowed in E145 permit which falls outside the APL could also destroy the ecosystem supporting the APL. In fact, the exclusion of APL areas in the original permit is proof that the government recognize the potential damage to ecosystems the mining project would induce. So by allowing mining exploration in the area, the government through the MGB can be held accountable for the damage which can occur in the affected ecosystems. This project would definitely have negative impact on the riparian ecosystems supporting and including the Cateel River, a very important source of water for many areas in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

This is enough reason for the MGB to cancel the permit.

Reference: Prof. Chiara Respecia, Spokesperson

* See related map on Facebook.

Related: Whom is MGB Serving?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Whom is MGB serving?

July 1, 2015

Press Statement
Panalipdan Southern Mindanao (Panalipdan-SMR)


We draw your attention to the Letter of MGB Region XI Director [3] ordering the Municipal Mayor of Compostela to allow Agusan Petroleum & Mineral Corporation (Agpet) to proceed with its exploration activities despite municipal-level resolution requesting MGB to cancel the exploration permit [1].

With this Order, we ask: who is more powerful in Compostela? The Mayor or the MGB Director?

Also, said letter requests Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to "assist Agpet" in its exploration activities, request which is now being used by the military and police to harass protesting residents including the strafing of the house of Bello Tindasan, the chairperson of Compostela Farmers Association [2].

More than 200 farmers and lumads from the mining-affected communities in Purok 20-28 of Brgy. Ngan, Compostela are now in their six (6) days of kampuhan-picket in front of MGB XI regional office in Davao City (as of June 30). They said they will not leave MGB XI until the exploration permit of Agusan Petroleum & Mineral Corporation is cancelled. They already submitted their opposition to Agpet to the Provincial Board of Compostela Valley last April 4 through a petition letter signed by 1000+ residents of nine (9) affected puroks of Brgy. Ngan including all the purok leaders'.

MGB XI Director Engr. Edilberto Arreza gave assurance he will recommend such cancellation in a dialogue Monday June 29 with the leaders of the Compostela Farmers Association who is leading the mass protest, but he gave the burden on the protesting farmers and lumads to show there is enough evidence for such cancellation. Is the series of protests (barricades, pickets, now kampuhan) plus the escalating human rights violations due to militarization not enough evidence for Engr. Arreza?

Whom is MGB serving?


Reference: Prof. Chiara Respecia, Spokesperson

[1] For a copy of the municipal resolution and other related documents, please visit our Facebook page here.
[2] For the related news on the strafing of Tindasan's house, read here
[3] For a copy of the MGB XI Director's Order, please visit our Facebook page here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The case of Dr. Romeo Quijano and SLAPP

Defending against intimidation lawsuits
The case of Dr. Romeo Quijano, and a proposed law to stop intimidation lawsuits in the Philippines
Source: Environmental Defender Law Center (US)

The Problem

Environmental defenders may find themselves named as defendants in defamation lawsuits in local courts. All too often, the goal of those who bring these lawsuits is to silence environmental defenders who publicly criticize projects or practices that harm both the environment and affected communities. This disfavored type of intimidation lawsuit is known in the U.S. as a “SLAPP suit” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).

In effect, those who bring SLAPPs seek to transform public debates into lawsuits in order to prevent the airing of legitimate concerns on matters of great public interest. These suits violate the human rights of environmental defenders and those on whose behalf they speak. See Human Rights Violated by SLAPP defamation suits. The problem of SLAPP suits is not restricted to the U.S.: the Philippines in particular has seen a huge proliferation of these lawsuits in recent years.
Dr. Romeo Quijano

Romeo Quijano is a physician and professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the Philippines. He had heard that the people of Kamukhaan, a village adjoining a large banana plantation on the island of Mindanao, were suffering from unusually high rates of disease. When he studied the health effects on the villagers of what he believed to be the overuse of a number of pesticides, Dr. Quijano found dozens of families who appeared to be suffering from pesticide poisoning.

Dr. Quijano videotaped his interviews with the villagers. When he arrived home, he assigned his daughter a summer project of writing a story from the taped interviews. She wrote the article with her father’s help and it was published in the newspaper. The article described the harm to the environment, and detailed the unusually high number of people suffering from significant health problems, linking these problems to pesticide exposure.

The publication of the article resulted in a libel action being filed against Dr. Quijano and his daughter by the fruit company. Dr. Quijano and his local lawyer welcomed assistance from EDLC and American lawyers, who prepared an extensive legal brief for use in his case. The brief showed how international human rights law prohibits the use of defamation laws to penalize environmental defenders in the exercise of their rights of free speech, petition, and citizen participation, and how human rights bodies have decided cases to this effect.

The court’s decision

On December 10, 2007 (Human Rights Day), the judge in the Philippines ruled in favor of Dr. Quijano and his daughter, dismissing the case. The judge ruled that there was “no convincing proof [of]…any malicious intent of defendants against the plaintiff,” and ordered the company to pay the Quijanos a portion of their expenses. In the meantime, EDLC learned of nearly a dozen similar cases filed in the Philippines against environmental defenders.
SLAPPS come to the Philippines

While EDLC has noted the increased use of SLAPP suits against environmental defenders in a number of developing countries, nowhere are SLAPPs more on the rise than in the Philippines. A Philippine Congressional Representative observed that “SLAPP defendants have been sued for lawful actions such as initiating signature campaigns, circulating a petition, publishing articles in newsletters, organizing and speaking in public meetings, reporting violations of the law, or participating in peaceful demonstrations.” Local groups share these concerns, leading to an effort to combat the problem through proposed comprehensive national anti-SLAPP legislation
Winston & Strawn and the Philippine Anti-SLAPP Law

EDLC was asked by elected representatives and NGO opponents of SLAPP suits in the Philippines to obtain American legal assistance in the effort to enact national anti-SLAPP legislation. At EDLC’s request, a team of lawyers at Winston & Strawn agreed to help.

Because SLAPPs aim to deter citizens from participating in public affairs, judges and legislators alike have condemned their use, fearing the danger such litigation poses to a well-functioning democracy. SLAPPs are so strongly disfavored that at least twenty-four U.S. states have enacted legislation discouraging their use. Most state statutes establish a process for motions to dismiss or strike claims, and expedite the hearing of such motions and suspend or sharply limit discovery until a ruling is made on the motion. These statutes also typically require the award of attorney’s fees, litigation costs, damages, and sanctions to SLAPP victims.

The lawyers at Winston & Strawn reviewed the draft of the legislation, offered comments, and proposed additional provisions. They also prepared a report on the SLAPP experience in the U.S. and in other countries, as well as analyzing the SLAPP problem under international human rights law. The report was presented to the Philippine House of Representatives to show the severity of the problem and the need for the proposed legislation.

In the meantime, there has been significant progress on the issue by virtue of the Philippine Supreme Court’s adoption in April 2010 of new rules of procedure for environmental cases. For the first time, the rules provide substantial protections for anti-SLAPP victims. And if the proposed law is enacted, it will mark the first time a country has created national anti-SLAPP law. Whether successful or not, proponents of the law hope that it will spur similar legislative proposals in other countries to help environmental defenders “SLAPP back.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pope urged to back People's Mining bill

By Ivy C. Tejano

Friday, January 16, 2015

ENVIRONMENTALISTS are appealing to Pope Francisto support their call for the passage of the People's Mining Bill in the wake of what they called "meaningless exploitation of mineral resources in the countryside."

Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) spokesperson Kim Gargar said House Bill 4315 or The People's Mining Bill will help protect the forests destroyed by big mining corporations.

The bill will eventually lead to the nationalization of the mining industry and the changing of its export-oriented nature, Gargar said.

"In the spirit of pro-people religious stand, we hope that the Pope would express his support for the bill, so our lawmakers will pass it as law. We also hope that through the Pope, people may see the relevance of this law, how this would greatly benefit the people and the economy," Gargar said.

Republic Act 7942 or The Mining Act of 1995 allows the liberalization of mining industries, giving foreigners the right to fully own mining companies in the country. The bill has been decried as unconstitutional by various groups since its ratification.

"The only Christian thing to do in this situation is to call for the immediate cessation of foreign mining operations. To destroy the environment is to destroy the life of the people. We call on the Pope to hear our call to protect the people and the environment," Gargar said.

The spokesman said the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had long ago made a call against mining in the country.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

NEWS: 1.2 Million budget allotted for Davao’s marine protected areas

Source: Davao Today

December 17, 2014

By Bal Kenneth Aballe, Davao Today Intern

DAVAO CITY – A German corporation pledged a total budget of P1,268,000.00 to facilitate researches and activities for the Davao City’s marine protected areas (MPA).

According to Councilor Marissa P. Salvador-Abella, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, the funding for the project proposal, entitled as “Strengthening Established Marine Protected (MPA) Network within Davao and Conservation of Biologically Important Species”, reaffirms the significance of the MPAs.

“Gesellschaftfur International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German Development Cooperation which primarily supports foreign developing countries focusing on the environment and infrastructure fortunately approved the project proposal of the Committee on Agriculture in establishing and managing networks for the marine protected area in Davao City,” Abella said.

The Davao City Marine Protected Areas Ordinance of 2007 mandates the establishment of marine protected areas to protect and rehabilitate critical habitats, increase fish productivity, enhance biodiversity and promote eco-tourism and research.

Map showing the coastal habitat and uses of Brgy. Lasang and Bunawan, Davao City, Philippines. From PDF source.
The city has three MPAs including Bunawan-Lasang MPA (415 hectares), Agdao Centro MPA (21 hectares) and Matina-Aplaya (37 hectares).

There are also other MPAs not covered by the MPA Ordinance such as in Barangay Hizon (2.5 hectares), Barangay Lapu-Lapu (6.6 hectares), Barangay Dumoy (3 hectares), Barangay Bago Aplaya (3 hectares) and Barangay Lizada (5 hectares).

The German funding will go through the University of Southern Philippines (USEP) Extension Office.

“One of the objectives of the project is to establish and manage a network of marine protected area in the City,” Abella said.

The project will also serve to “reduce illegal fishing activities by 10% through the enforcement of Local Fisheries Code of Davao City”.

“Our City is very fortunate to have been chosen as a recipient of the project. On the part of the City, it does not have to shell out additional funds for this project because the allocation for MPA Ordinance implementation will serve as counterpart and the same is already available in the City Agriculturist Office,” Abella said. (