OPPOSE THE CONTINUING ONSLAUGHT ON THE EARTH
“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and you made my inheritance detestable.” (Jeremiah 2:7)
We, the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), express alarm over the wanton abuse of natural resources by the Transnational Mining Corporations (TNCs) with their local cohorts in South Luzon Region, especially in Bicol. The experience of the Bicolano people is no different from the plight of local communities in mining areas throughout the country: massive environmental destruction, shrinking economic base of the people, militarization of mining communities, displacement of communities due to land-grabbing and unjust land-conversion, gross human rights violations, destruction of flora and fauna, and further impoverishment of the country. The unresolved and ever continuing polymetallic mining operations in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay, Labo, Paracale, and Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, the aggressive mine expansion in Aroroy, Masbate by Filminera Resources Corp., the peculiar magnetite off-shore mining in Camarines Sur by Bogo Mining Resources Corp; the Palanog Cement Plant in Albay, Panganiban and San Andres, Catanduanes, and the deeper quagmire of maldevelopment of mining in Matnog, Sorsogon challenge us to rethink our role as responsible God’s stewards of creation ( Genesis 1: 26-31 ).
Destructive mining is blatantly unethical, unjust, and senseless for it exacerbates poverty, causes dislocation of livelihood of the people, and even threatens the base of life and life itself.
It is lamentable that the national government equates TNC mining with development, and is remiss in its duties in protecting the environment to the detriment of the people. It has been proven that the negative costs of mining operations far outweigh the gains.
Thus, to further liberalize the mining industry in favour of the mining corporations as being trumpeted by the Aquino administration will mean more suffering and death, dislocation, displacement and ruin of the environment.
Hence we call on the Filipino people:
1. To oppose all destructive mining operations, both locally or foreign-owned;
2. To scrap the Mining Act of 1995;
3. To demand immediate moratorium of large scale mining
4. To demand the demilitarization of mining communities
5. To fight for justice and integrity of creation;
6. To pass the HB 4315 or the Peoples’ Mining Bill
We urge our churches and faith-based groups and institutions to pursue organizing, awareness building, and other relevant activities, and be in full solidarity with the people’s movement against destructive mining operations.
With the liberating power of the Holy Spirit, we seek strength and wisdom to carry this task of asserting the right of the earth to survive and all that dwell therein.
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
October 6, 2011
DA Reports Rise in Fish Catch But Not in Albay Gulf
In the July 12-18, 2011 issue of Diario Veritas, the Department of Agriculture reported:
Nahilingan nin senyales nin pag-asenso an sector nin pagsisira sa paagi kan pagiging aktibo kan mga regional fishing ports sa primerong quarto kan taon.
Ipinahayag nin Rodolfo Paz, an general manager kan Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), an mga dakop kan sira an nagtaas nin maabot sa 93 porsyento sa Navotas, Iloilo, asin Sual, Pangasinan.
Siring man an nanotaran sa Davao Fish Port Complex na nagkaigwa man na 40% na pagdakul nin dakop kumparadosa dakop kan mga parasira sa kaparehong peryodo kan nakaaging taon.
Katakod kaini, pinag-engganyar kan DA an gabos na local na gobyerno sa nasyon na pakusugon an industriya nina pagsisira partikular sa aspeto kan environmental protection asin pagbukod sa mga ilegal na mga parasira.
Nakaabot kaya an report sa DA na rampante an paggamit nin mga dinamitakan mga parasira sa nagkakapirang kostal na lugar kan nasyon kun saen saro kan naunambitan digdi iyo an rehiyon Bikol.
At least two points are implied in this report. First, there are rises in fish catch in several areas of the country but not in Albay Gulf. Second, the DA blames all declines in fish catch on environmental degradation “and” illegal fishing.
On the first implication: Why is there no report of any rise in fish catch in Albay Gulf? The answer is obvious: there is in fact a precipitous decline as attested to by fishermen. A 95% decline has been reported here since 2005 the same year when Lafayette went into full operation. Why is there such a decline? We have referred that question to the DA and its line bureau BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) but no answer has ever been given. (They have not even reported any investigation conducted on the cause of death of a 15-meter sperm whale in 2010.)
We have ascribed the decline to mining in Rapu-Rapu from which flow several creeks that are discolored. Officials of Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project reply that fish catch decline is a global phenomenon (technical meeting on April 26, 2011 in EMB). Now, we have here a rebuttal to that defense - the DA report of fish catch rise in at least four areas. Fish catch decline is not a global phenomenon.
On the second implication: Since DA reports rises in fish catch in four areas of the country and calls for curtailment of illegal fishing, then it follows that after curtailing illegal fishing we can observe a rise in fish catch. In Albay Gulf, the Bantay Dagat, a local watch group against illegal fishing, has been very active in this campaign. However, the fish catch decline continues. Couple this observation with the fact that the DA confirms the presence of a fish sanctuary in Gaba Bay, Villahermosa, Rapu-Rapu . With a fish sanctuary and active campaign against illegal fishing, fish population should increase within one or two seasons but this does not happen. Hence, illegal fishing cannot be the cause. Again, we are led to the more obvious – the mining operation in Rapu-Rapu.
It should be pointed out that much of the fish catch in the past according to fishermen consisted of migratory fish from the Pacific Ocean – yellowfin tuna, kwaw, malasugi, tanguigue, sharks, etc. These species do not need the local breeding grounds in Albay Gulf to multiply. They spawn in the areas around Guam and come to Albay Gulf to feed seasonally. They pass through the gap between Rapu-Rapu and Prieto Diaz following the current. Since 2005, the catch of these species has consistently declined. Something is barring their path in that gap and that something is none other than the contamination of silt and heavy metals flowing from the mine site through the creeks and ultimately to the waters around Rapu-Rapu. The current carries the contaminants into the Albay Gulf and spreads them as the tide flows back out into the Philippine Sea.
Any way we look at the phenomenon in Albay Gulf, the glaring fact is that mining has adversely affected our food supply. Between fishing where we derive 100% of the benefits and Rapu-Rapu mining where were derive only 1/3 of 1% (according to the statement of Gov. Joey Salceda in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 28, 2011), we have to choose the former.
The same issue of Diario Veritas banners the headline “City secures fish trade.” It reports the plan of the Legazpi City Council “to beef up the local fishing industry through stern legislation . . . Councilor Carlos Ante had already invited the different leaders of the local fisher folk to lay out details of a proposed ordinance to secure their livelihood.” I laud the efforts of the good councilor. However, I suggest that a more comprehensive view of the problem be taken if it is ever intended to be solved. As management theory suggests, any solution should address the real cause of the problem. Limiting the analysis within the immediate vicinity of the city’s coastal waters will lead to a failure at solution.
Not too long ago, we learned that several city councilors led by then Mayor Noel Rosal visited the Rapu-Rapu mine. In the newsletter of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Foresight, he was quoted as follows: “The mine is full of promise for the province” (Pages 9 and 11). I wrote Hon. Rosal in November 2010 (by then he had become the City Administrator) attaching photographs of the creeks colored brown, red, yellow and orange. I asked if the tour guides brought his group to the creeks. It’s September 2011 and I still have to receive a reply. I also wrote to MGB V and EMB V. Both replied that the contamination in the creeks is within “tolerable levels.”
RRMI, RRPI, LG, Kores and MSC should not think that they have succeeded in convincing the local community in their claim that the mine is operated responsibly and that the benefits they have derived translate to sustainable development of the people. The condition of the creeks, the fish catch decline and the poverty prevailing in the island all speak eloquently of the truth. Environmental damage and economic injustice have worsened. Adding insult to injury, they have praised themselves through press releases about their environmental awards while the residents of Rapu-Rapu and the fishermen of Albay Gulf continue to suffer. The contamination in the creeks may be within “tolerable levels” in the standards of the DENR but the poverty of the island residents, the fish catch decline and the environmental damage are definitely intolerable in the standards of the local community.
The DA, BFAR, DENR, Legazpi City Council, other local government units and other authorities better look into Rapu-Rapu mining honestly if they really want to solve the problem of fish catch decline in Albay Gulf. Anything less than that would not be in keeping with the public trust reposed in them.
September 4, 2011
Mining Engineers’ Conference in Legazpi City blind to local residents’ plight!
We remind the Provincial Government of Albay about the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution 2011-020 issued on March 8, 2011 banning all future mining activities in the province. It should have shown consistency by expressing disfavor against the convention.
We rebuke the City Government of Legazpi for going against the sentiments of Albayanos against the continued destruction of our environment. The city has recently manifested its inability to walk the talk. In Mount Bariw, Barangay Estanza, a large swath of hillside is severely denuded yet it has done nothing. The silt from the denudation has flowed to Barangay Pinaric where it is several inches thick. In Embarcadero, large volumes of floating garbage greet the citizens whenever they go for a leisurely stroll along the boulevard. The city government has been so preoccupied with pleasing tourists but compromised the welfare of local residents who voted them into office and pay millions in taxes. Tourists bring in income but that income is just a means towards providing better living conditions for local residents. The means cannot be exchanged for the end. If the welfare of citizens is disadvantaged by the city government’s preoccupation with pleasing tourists, then it is time to withdraw the trust reposed in them during election.
The hosting of the mining engineers’ convention in Legazpi is a misstep of the city government. It betrays a failure to understand genuine environmental advocacy. While the city brags about its sanitary landfill, it fails to prove its pro-environment agenda by making a prominent endorsement of mining as a stimulant of progress. While we need products derived from mining, we insist that it should be done in the right place and the right manner. That is what responsible mining is all about. So far, however, all claims of responsible mining by many companies are nothing but hot air because of the evident damage wrought on their surroundings like what is happening in Rapu-Rapu, Aroroy, Palanog, Matnog, Paracale, Catanduanes, Caramoan, etc.
They say, if we do not want mining then we should not use the products of that industry. They are dead wrong. We want mining that does not destroy the environment. We want mining that reserves the natural resources of the Philippines for Filipinos. We want mining that spreads the fruits of development to the masses and not only to the foreign investors and their local junior partners.
We want mining that does not sacrifice our agriculture so that we protect our own food supply. Mining generally provides for non-basic needs while agriculture produces our most basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and livelihood. While mining generates a few temporary jobs, agriculture provides long-term sources of income thus genuinely assuring sustainable development.
We call on all mining engineers to support our notion of genuinely responsible mining. In view of the bad record of mining in Bicol, we ask them not to project the impression that they condone what is happening here contrary to declarations by the DENR, MGB, EMB and companies that all is well in Bicol mining. Bicol is severely suffering from the impacts of mining and the statements of the aforementioned entities are belied when we see the plight of the farmers and fishermen and the condition of our mountains, rivers, creeks and seas.
So in their visit to Rapu-Rapu today, they should make an objective assessment on the effects of mining in the island and its residents and not make it a mere field trip. They should talk to the people to know the real impact of RRPP on their lives. They tell us nothing but misery and deepening poverty. While the project heaps billions upon the foreign investors and their local junior partners, it brings “Lilliputian” benefits to the residents of the island and severe fish catch decline in Albay Gulf on which depend some 14,000 fishermen. Today, there is no more fish to catch in the gulf.
In 2010, the project earned P11.7 billion but according to Gov. Joey Salceda himself the province got a social fund of P41.71 million or a measly one-third (1/3) of 1%! If that is not enough, one can look at the creeks flowing from the mine site to the sea. They are colored yellow, orange, red and brown.
We ask the delegates to the mining conference to wake up to realities and not be deceived by the lies of those who support mining operations in Bicol.
July 19, 2011
RRPP’s Awards - Rubbing Salt on the People’s Injury
As the cliché goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. One needs only to go to the island and talk to the people to know the real impact of RRPP on their lives. They tell nothing but misery and deepening poverty. While the project heaps billions upon the foreign investors and their local junior partners, it brings “Lilliputian” benefits to the residents of the island and severe fish catch decline in Albay Gulf on which depend some 14,000 fishermen. Today, there is no more fish to catch in the gulf.
In 2010, the project earned P11.7 billion but according to Gov. Joey Salceda himself the province got a social fund of P41.71 million or a measly one-third (1/3) of 1%! If that is not enough, one can look at the creeks flowing from the mine site to the sea. They are colored yellow, orange, red and brown. Challenged to prove his belief in the reports of the Multi-partite Monitoring Team by bathing in the creeks on schedules and sites set by SARA, Director Reynulfo Juan of MGB V, showed photos of people perching on rocks in the discolored creeks on dates and sites they themselves chose. Challenged by SARA to withdraw the armed CAFGUs and allow free access and surprise visits to the creeks, Engr. Rogelio Corpus, President of RRMI, replied that they cannot allow such because they “have to protect their interests.” Hence, the interests of the environment and those of RRPP are contradictory.
The executives of RRPP can go on deluding themselves with fantastic claims of “safe and responsible mining” in Rapu-Rapu but the truth is well-known to the people who suffer much from the environmental damage and economic injustice attendant to the project. The emperor’s new clothes are well-praised by the award-giving bodies. One day, the truth will prevail and the awards will instead shatter their credibility. There is time under heaven for everything, says the Bible. Today, in the island of Rapu-Rapu and villages dependent on Albay Gulf, the people are groaning in pain. The awards are salt rubbed on their wounds while RRPP’s supporters have their photo-ops and raise their toasts of wine in fine dining. We believe that the day will come when, after being denied for so long, the people shall claim justice and RRPP’s awards will go to the dustbin.
July 18, 2011
Noon at Ngayon, Walang Responsableng Dayuhang Pagmimina sa Kabikolan!
Kahiya-hiya at malakas pa ang loob na ang itinakdang tema ng kumperensyang magaganap ay: Towards Responsible Mining: “Against All Odds”. Responsable para kanino? - Para sa mga malalaki at dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kasama ng mga malalaking lokal na negosyante at para sa mga matataas na opisyales ng gobyerno at ahensya na nakikipagsabwatan sa mga korporasyong ito.
Kalokohang sabihin na ang operasyon na Open Pit Mining sa Rapu-Rapu, Albay (Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project ng Lafayette/LG-Kollins) at sa Aroroy, Masbate (Masbate Gold Project ng Filminera Resources Corporation) ay responsable! Mayroon bang pagpapasabog (blasting) ng kabundukan at kalupaan na “safe and environmental friendly”? Samantalang winawasak nga at hinuhukay pailalim.
Hindi rin responsable ang Magnetite Offshore Mining ng Bogo Mining Resources Corp. sa limang bayan ng Calabanga, Sipocot, Tinambac, Cabusao at Siruma sa Camarines Sur kung saan hahalukayin ang kailaliman ng karagatan 15 kilometro mula sa baybayin nito.
Hindi kailanman naging responsable ang mga dayuhang korporasyon ng pagmimina sa mga naapektuhan ng kanilang mga operasyon. Simula ng operasyon ng RRPP sa Rapu-Rapu ay lalong lumala ang kahirapan at nagkagutom-gutom ang mga residente dito dahil sa pagbagsak ng kanilang kabuhayan sa pangingisda at pagsasaka dulot ng mga lason ng pagmimina dito. Kung mayroong nakinabang sa binayad ng RRPP na P10,862.85 (mine waste fee) para sa 217,257 tonelada na “mine waste” ay ang MGB-V. (mula sa ulat ng MGB-V,2010). Sampung libong piso! Katumbas ba ito ng isang buhay ng nanay na namatay dahil nakakain ng isda dahil sa fishkill doon o ng isang batang namatay doon dahil sa kagutuman?
Apektado na nga ang mga residente sa pagmimina sa Barangay Nakalaya, Jose Panganiban sa Camarines Norte ay naiipit pa sila ngayon sa kaguluhan at away ng Investwell Corporation at ng FMCGI ng pamilyang Fonacier na nag-aagawan ng yamang mineral ng kanilang lugar.
Kasinungalingang ipamaglaki pa sa ulat ng DENR-V/MGB-V na ang malakihang pagmimina sa Kabikolan ang nagpasigla ng ekonomiya ng rehiyon samantalang ayon sa ulat ay nasa ikalawa sa pinakamahirap na rehiyon ang Bikol sa buong bansa. Kung sinasabi na umunlad ang ekonomiya ng Bikol dahil sa malakihang pagmimina – hindi ito maramdaman ng mga mamamayang Bikolano lalo na ng mga apektado ng mapaminsala at dayuhang pagmimina.
Tanging ang mga malalaki at dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kasama ng mga malalaking lokal na negosyante at mga matataas na opisyales ng gobyerno at ahensya na nakikipagsabwatan sa mga korporasyong ito ang nakikinabang sa mga produkto at kita ng pagmimina dito sa Bikol. Sa ulat ng MBG-V/DENR-V noong 2010, sa kabuuan ay may P4,654,818,424.31 at P57,483,032.45 na kita mula sa “metallic ” at “non-metallic production”dito sa Bikol ayon sa pagkasunod-sunod ngunit hindi naman inulat ang mga dambuhala at limpak na limpak na kita ng mga korporasyon na maluwag na inilalabas patungo sa kanilang bansa. Maluwag nang nailalabas ang kita, maluwag pa ang kanilang operasyon dahil sa mga iba’t-ibang insentibo tulad ng: 6 years income tax exemption, 10 years export tax exemption, and import tax exemption at marami pang iba.
Kaya nga parang parang kabuteng nagsulputan ang mga ito sa Bikol dahil sa pagiging sagana ng rehiyon sa yamang mineral at prayoridad pa ng nakaraang gobyerno ni GMA ito para sa malakihang proyektong pagmimina na ipinagpapatuloy lamang ng gobyerno ni Noynoy Aquino at pinasahol pa sa ilalim ng kanyang Public-Private Partnership Program. Gayundin, patuloy ang pag-iral ng Mining Act of 1995 kung saan ay lalong nagbuyangyang sa ating likas na yaman para dambungin at wasakin ang ating kalikasan.
“Towards Responsible Mining: Against All Odds” ? - Ang responsableng pagmimina ay mangyayari lamang sa ating bansa kung magkakaroon ng re-oryentasyon ang industriya ng pagmimina sa ating bansa. Kung saan, ang kita ng industriya ng pagmimina ay napapakinabangan at napapaunlad ang mamamayang Pilipino at hindi napupunta sa dayuhan at sa mga lokal na kasabwat nito. Kung saan, ang gobyerno ang may kontrol ng industriya at hindi ang mga dayuhan.
Hindi dayuhang pagmimina at malawakang kumbersyon ng lupa ang magpapaunlad sa Kabikolan. Hindi ito ang sagot sa kahirapan at kagutuman ng mamamayang Bikolano. Pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura, trabaho at sapat na sahod, tirahan, libreng serbisyo-sosyal ang tutugon sa kahirapan at kagutuman upang mabuhay ng maayos at marangal ang mamamayang Bikolano. Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa at Pambansang Industriyalisasyon lamang ang magpapaunlad sa bansa at rehiyon.
Hulyo 13, 2011
A Word of Caution
Matthew 7:16 - You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs.
Matthew 7:20 - So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.
The creeks are crucial to the condition of fishing grounds
The joke is that there will no longer be any fishkill - because there are no more fish to kill.
The fish that allegedly died off the coasts of Linao and Binosawan during the fishkill reported by island residents and the parish on May 8, 2011 could be the migratory species from the Pacific Ocean attempting to enter Albay Gulf via the gap between Rapu-Rapu and Prieto Diaz. Linao is a village facing the ocean and Binosawan, the gap.
The MGB V Photographs and "Bathing" in the Creeks of Rapu-Rapu
"With reference to your challenge to take a bath in the creeks, we have done just that. some members of the MMT and personnel of Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) went to a picnic and took a bath at Pagcolbon Creek on March 29 and April 3, 2011. We are attaching pictures for your reference. These pictures indicate the current status of the creeks."
In reply, Mr. Perdigon writes:
The good Director says he believes the contamination data but he is not among those “bathing.” Someone is shown sitting on the rocks (obviously not bathing) but the face is not recognizable (number 10).
Then and Now: What Difference? What Improvement in the Creeks?
Below, we are presenting ALL pictures in the Annex to the EMB V Investigation Report dated March 8-10, 2011. Those on the left are the pictures we have been showing to authorities which were taken from 2006 to 2009; those on the right are alleged to have been taken in the same spots on March 8 to 10, 2011 by EMB V and the mining companies. You be the judge if there is any improvement.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Monday, July 9, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
We remember how, in the days of early American colonial rule, our grandparents were lulled into rosy dreams of progress under the spell of American literature and cinema. We gradually assimilated American aspirations and many Filipinos were diverted from nationalist ideals. The Thomasites came to “educate” us. Thus the Americans conquered our minds and hearts that to this day many Filipinos would look to America for deliverance from poverty notwithstanding America’s role in the impoverishment of our people amidst a plentiful land.
Monday, December 5, 2011
The following text message was received by a friend of the Alliance:
Digdi po sa Mananao nagpoon na an exploration kan pagmimina. Asin nahahandal an mga residents nin huli ta an saindang tubig apektado.
Here in Mananao mining exploration has started. The residents are apprehensive because their water supply is affected.
Date: November 25, 2011
Aside from the effects on water supply, the coloration of creeks has been observed. The silt has reached the sea and fishing is made more difficult.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Mr. Perdigon replies as follows:
As regards your feeling that I have interminable questions, I respond that we citizens are interminable in paying our taxes. Every year we pay our income tax and every day we pay EVAT. Hence, I do not see consistency when you “feel (I) have interminable questions.” The fact is that the questions are the same. They are just not answered well enough to be credible to us taxpayers. At best, your answers have been piecemeal and evasive. It is our right to raise the same unanswered questions per guarantee of the Constitution and it is your duty to properly answer them according to RA 6713.
We cut and paste our challenge because it seems you fail to understand it (please refer to letter dated March 21, 2011):
Your bathing in the creeks will be open to the public, the sites and dates will be chosen randomly by our side, it will be done four times with each lasting for at least thirty minutes. If any fish is found, we will cook it for you. We do not agree that the dates will depend on the next MMT inspection since we have already expressed no faith in that group. It is also necessary to withdraw the armed men preventing public access to the creeks.
These conditions are essential because they are intended to establish credibility. None of these are met in your alleged “bathing” for the following reasons:
(1) The good Director says he believes the contamination data but he is not among those “bathing.” Someone is shown sitting on the rocks (obviously not bathing) but the face is not recognizable. A group of men seated around some food are not bathing either. They do not appear to be anywhere near the creeks. Instead they are in a parking lot as indicated by the pickup truck in the background.
(2) Our side did not randomly choose the dates and sites hence we cannot say that the photos were taken in any of the contested creeks. It is apparent by your unilateral action that your side is not willing to concede this condition. Our random choice is essential to prevent any prior “sanitization” of certain spots for the purpose of photo operation (though we do not claim that your group actually did it this time).
(3) The people in the creeks are not actually in contact with the water. They are perching on rocks instead, obviously avoiding the effluent. The feet of the men in blue overalls are almost all hidden from the camera but obviously not immersed in water. Still, two photos show that they are wearing what appears to be rubber boots, another evidence of avoidance.
(4) The photos show that green vegetation is distant from the water while vines that are in contact with it are brown, leafless and (as they appear in the photos) dead. (In healthy creeks like those at the foot of Mt. Mayon, the leaves mingle with the water and the creek beds are green with moss. Please see my attachment.) In the creeks photographed by MGB V yellowish coloration is evident. In the data you have presented, nothing is mentioned about results of sampling for heavy metals and nothing is said about freshwater organisms. Allowing us free access and surprise visits would have revealed if there are even snails in the creeks.
(5) The people shown to be at the mouth of one creek are also not bathing but standing. Since they were photographed at a great distance, MGB V fails to prove that they are not wearing rubber boots.
(6) The people shown to be bathing are not doing so in the creeks but far out in the sea whose location is not verified. We cannot tell how long they stayed in the seawater.
(7) Even after the alleged event, we cannot verify your photos through an ocular inspection because armed guards are preventing us, contrary to the “invitation” stated in your letter dated April 15, 2011.
As another example of your evasiveness, it took several months before we were informed of the identity of the “geochemist.” Any taxpayer would not be satisfied until this information is given. We want to know his or her identity because the day will come when our group will either praise for truth or file a falsification case for data tampering. I took note of your information that the geochemist Ms. Pearl Marian A. Peralta is a contractual employee of MGB V.
The strength of our Republic lies in the vigilance and persistence of its citizens. The Arroyo administration failed in its bid for a “strong republic” because of lies. Under the new administration of PNoy, we taxpayers believe in Daang Matuwid. Our contribution to its realization is to scrutinize every information we receive from public servants. Saving Rapu-Rapu means knowing whether there is environmental damage and economic injustice or not, and then acting on the basis of truth.
Nice try about the “bathing” and the photos but please make them convincing next time. Thank you.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Through a text message to the radio program of the EMB V over Radio Veritas, Marhay na Aga Kapalibutan, I informed the new Director, Fernando Quililan, that the creeks emanating from the mine sites of Rapu-Rapu are colored red, yellow, orange and brown. That was on January 3, 2011. The Director promised publicly that he would have the matter investigated. I followed up with a letter dated January 15.
January went and February came but no result was reported. I called up the radio program and only the EMB V staff was on board. They said an investigation team would go to the island in the first week of March. I waited.
On March 31, I received a fax message inviting me to a technical conference with EMB V and the mining companies on April 14. Two days before the schedule, the conference was reset to April 26. On that day, at past 2 pm, Engr. Rogelio Corpus, President of Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc. and Mrs. Carmelita Borbe Pacis, RRMI Pollution Control Officer, came. Several personnel of EMB V attended, including Engr. Henry Lopez who presided. EMB V presented its findings with color photographs allegedly of the creeks and Engr. Lopez asked me if I had any comments. I replied that I would rather give the floor to the mining companies’ representatives first. I say “companies” because, as I understood, Engr. Corpus and Mrs. Pacis were representing Rapu-Rapu Processing, Inc., Rapu-Rapu Holdings, Inc., Korea Resources Corporation, LG International Corporation and Malaysia Smelting Corporation.
Engr. Corpus said that the photographs of EMB V did not show much improvement in the creek coloration. He asked to be allowed to present photographs taken on April 25. So, Mrs. Pacis presented what they alleged to be the most recent pictures of the creeks. She claimed that the SARA photographs were taken in 2005 and downloaded from the Internet. Some of the photographs, she added came from the mining companies.
In my reaction, I mentioned that the photographs were taken not in 2005 but from 2006 to 2009. SARA did not download them from the Internet. Instead, SARA gave them to supporters who uploaded the same to the Internet. The pictures of SARA were shown to the DENR in 2006 to 2008 but no action was taken. They were shown to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay in its session on October 20 and November 3, 2009 in the presence of Engr. Corpus and other mining officials but no action was taken. In 2009 we began to have difficulty going to the creeks because armed guards were stationed there.
SARA presented photographs of the creeks. In response, EMB V and mining companies allegedly went to the creeks to validate. This time, EMB V and the mining companies present photographs of the creeks. In the same token, SARA must be allowed to go back to the creeks to validate the “latest” photographs. I insisted that SARA be given free and surprise access to the creeks for the results to be credible. The response of Engr. Corpus was that the visits by SARA should be coordinated with them. I refused to accept such requisite because they could do prior sanitization and the results would not be a truthful record of the condition of the creeks.
The EMB suggested that SARA join the Multipartite Monitoring Team but I replied that SARA stands otherwise because of the team’s performance during the October 2005 toxic spills. SARA would rather be independent of the MMT.
We also debated on the severely diminished fish catch in Albay Gulf. Mrs. Pacis claimed that such is a worldwide phenomenon. I countered that when fishermen of Rapu-Rapu go to Samar and Pandan, Catanduanes they catch fish. Moreover, there is a fish sanctuary in Sitio Gaba in Batan Island but even that is not able to sustain the fish population in Albay Gulf. That indicates something wrong with the water itself.
I also mentioned that in July 2010 a 25-ton sperm whale died near Sitio Gogon of Poblacion but no investigation was conducted to determine the cause of death. BFAR V should have exerted all means to know the cause but nothing came from that office except the initial allegation that the whale died of old age which was later retracted. In the end, BFAR V claimed that the whale was too decomposed for any examination.
Prior to my communications to EMB V, I had been writing letters to Director Reynulfo Juan of MGB V about the same complaint of creek coloration. I began in October 2010. By January 3, 2011 nothing had been done by the MGB V so I formally wrote EMB V which by then had a new Director.
By February 2011, Director Juan took my letters more seriously and our exchanges went on until in his letter dated April 15, he claimed to have dispatched a team to the creeks. He claims that they “bathed” in the creeks, had a picnic there and took photographs. He further invited me to a technical conference on May 10, 2011. I prepared a reply regarding their alleged “bathing,” “picnic,” and picture-taking in the creeks but held it until after the second technical conference. (Read my separate article titled “The MGB V Photographs and Bathing in the Creeks of Rapu-Rapu.”)
The second technical conference was attended by Director Juan, Director Quililan, Engr. Corpus, Mrs. Pacis, Punong Barangay Reynold Asuncion of Malobago, the Punong Barangay of Pagcolbon, and personnel of MGB V and EMB V. Mrs. Pacis presented the same photographs. When Director Juan asked me to comment I said the presentation of Mrs. Pacis was not new and we already had a debate on collateral issues on April 26. I requested those present to just refer to the record of proceedings of our technical conference with EMB V. There was just one point I said that I wanted to focus on: SARA’s stand that the armed guards be pulled out from the creeks and we be allowed unhampered and surprise visits. Director Quililan expressed favor to our stand. He said the creeks are part of the “Philippine Islands” and any citizen has the right to go to any public place. Director Juan would rather make us join the MMT and leave the matter of surprise visits to the mining companies. Engr. Corpus just repeated what he stated before: they would consent only to visits coordinated with them. I said again that coordinated visits will not yield credible results and SARA cannot join the MMT owing to its performance during the October 2005 toxic spills. The two Punong Barangays said SARA should first do a courtesy call to them. I replied that such is alright provided that within minutes SARA would be allowed to proceed to the creeks and not be unduly delayed.
Director Juan said that they would wait for the mining companies to consent to surprise visits and promptly adjourned the conference.
In the afternoon of the same day, I was informed by personnel of the Social Action Center that they received a text message stating that a fishkill had occurred near Linao and Binsosawan. The following day, Fr. Pao Barandon, Station Manager of Radio Veritas, reported the same information from the island, specifying who sent it. Allegedly, the mining companies hired people to gather the dead fish and bury them even amidst the onslaught of Typhoon Bebeng. In an interview over the same radio station, I recounted what transpired during the technical conferences and advised people in Rapu-Rapu to take videos or photos of the reported fishkill. By my count, that would be the 6th since 2005. I hypothesize that the fish which died could be migratory from the Pacific Ocean. They could be going to Albay Gulf and upon reaching the vicinity of Linao and Binosawan, they died. However, we await the investigation of authorities. We hope that, this time, the results are credible.
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata!
May 11, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The first good news: The Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines (CEC-Phil) has been cleared of all libel charges filed by then Lafayette Philippines, Inc. (LPI), now renamed Korea Malaysia Philippines Resources, Inc. (KMPRI) by the Regional Trial Court 67 of Pasig City.
On March 14, 2011, the KMPRI had filed an affidavit of desistance, claiming that it is “no longer interested in the prosecution of this case…” The public prosecutor, unable to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, with KMPRI’s desistance, thus moved for the dismissal of the case.
The case is a clear example of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), or a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition” (Wikipedia). Specifically named in the case is Ms. Frances Quimpo, CEC-Phil Executive Director.
In 2006, her group entered the stockholders’ meeting in Australia to directly present the Rapu-Rapu situation to Australian and other investors in the Rapu-Rapu mine. Her group exposed the severe environmental damage and economic plunder wrought on the island residents and distributed a primer elaborating this. Aside from Ms. Quimpo, KMP’s Mr. Danilo Ramos and some John Does were also charged.
Ms. Quimpo and her co-accused are thankful to Attorneys Victoria Avena, Howard Calleja, Emil Joven and Jobert Pahilga, and all who supported them in various ways during their ordeal.
The second good news: The Provincial Government of Albay, through Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution 2011-020 dated March 8, 2011 affirmed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda on March 14, 2011, has declared the province off limits to future mining operations. This decision was reached after the SPA and the Governor noted that the benefits obtained from the current mining activities of the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project are “graphically Lilliputian.” Mar S. Arguelles of the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on March 28, 2011 (page A22):
Salceda’s signing of the antimining measure came on the heels of a report from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Bicol trumpeting the achievement of the mining sector in the region, including the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) operated in Rapu-Rapu town by a Korean-Malaysian-Filipino consortium.
The sector produced P11.4 billion worth of gold, silver, copper and cement last year and paid P782.6 million in taxes to the national government.
Salceda has lashed out at the gains that Bicol got from mining, saying the benefit was “a tiny gesture” compared to the billions of pesos worth of mineral resources extracted from the region.
He added that the gain from mining operations was artificial and merely bloated the region’s Gross Value Added (GVA).
GVA measures the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, industry or sector in the country. It is used to estimate Gross Domestic Product, a key indicator of the state of the economy.
He said only the mining giants benefited from the billions of pesos they earned because even with the almost P800 million in taxes they paid, the region was expected to get only P40 million, a measly 3 percent, in social fund from the national government.
“This report only makes me more angry, and more committed to oppose mining in Albay,” Salceda said.
He lamented that the billions in pesos that the mining firms earned from their operations were never remitted to the Philippines.
“They paid taxes of P782 million where we have little share and have not received our share at all. There is that social fund of P41.71 million or only 3 percent. So graphically Lilliputian to the P11.7 billion of Gulliver,” Salceda said.
If he had a say on the matter, he said he would stop mining operations to prevent disasters.
“As the leader of my province, I am so ashamed I could not stop this national imposition,” said Salceda, referring to mining laws that grant the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the sole authority to approve large-scale mining.
On the other hand, Director Reynulfo A. Juan of MGB V is reported to have said that “the MGB would welcome only new mining ventures that would operate responsibly.”
The Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance calls on the Provincial Government of Albay to take the step further: close the Rapu-Rapu mine. According to SARA:
Matagal na tayong nananawagan noon pa man na magpasa ng moratorium on mining ang Albay gaya sa ibang probinsya. Kahit sa mga pagharap natin sa SPA, mga rally at radio interview pinapanawagan natin ito.
Ang isang magandang pangyayari ngayon ay ang kategorikal na pagpatunay mismo ni Gov. Salceda na hindi nakakatulong ang kasalukuyang pagmimina, na talagang napakliit ng nakukuha ng Rapu-Rapu o ng buong Pilipinas mula sa mina.
Ang resolusyon ay isa nang partial na tagumpay na maituturing natin. Ito ay kalutasan sa mga darating pang problema na dulot ng pagmimina. Ang kailangan sa ngayon ay lutasin ang kasalukuyang problema sa Rapu-Rapu na patuloy na nagpapahirap sa mga taga-isla at mga mangingisda na umaasa sa Albay Gulf. Malaki na ang pinsala sa mga bundok, sapa, gubat at dagat. Paghihirap pa rin an nadarama ng mga taga-isla at bagsak na bagsak pa rin ang pangingisda sa Albay Gulf. Hindi rin tiyak kung ang expansion ng KMPRI ay sakop ng resolusyon.
Ang pagsasara sa minahan sa Rapu-Rapu ay siyang bubuo sa kalutasan ng problema.
SARA hopes that one day soon, the Rapu-Rapu mine will finally close.
April 4, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
We support the call of Ms. Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN about Palawan. In turn, we call on her to support our call about Rapu-Rapu.
Every night my eyes get sore from watching TV Patrol not for anything but for the background where the logo LG is prominently shown. LG owns 42% of the Rapu-Rapu polymetallic mine. (28% is owned by Korea Resources Corporation; 30%, by Malaysia Smelting Corporation)
The mine used to be owned by Lafayette Philippines, Inc. When the Australians left, they sold the mine to the three corporations. In place of LPI, a company called Korea Malaysia Philippines Resources, Inc. was put up by LG, Kores and MSC. To put a Filipino face to their operations, the Koreans and Malaysians sustained the existence of Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc. and Rapu-Rapu Processing, Inc. The first does the blasting and quarrying of ores; the second, the processing of metals. The ownership structure is a bit complicated but that's their intention - to complicate the whole thing for publicity and tax avoidance purposes.
The effect of Rapu-Rapu mining is two-fold: (1) environmental damage as seen in the creeks which are colored red, yellow, orange, brown; (2) economic injustice as seen in the abject poverty of island residents and 95% fish catch decline in Albay Gulf since 2005 when the mine went full blast in its operations.
In spite of these, the MGB V says the level of contamination in one creek (Hollowstone) is within "tolerable limits" while no mention is made of the other creeks. DENR V has been silent since 2007. BFAR never investigated the cause of the death of a 15-meter sperm whale in July 2010. The Provincial Government of Albay says "No to Mining" but it has done nothing to stop the operation of the Rapu-Rapu mine.
The people of Rapu-Rapu and the 14,000 fishermen dependent on Albay Gulf are slowly starving. And every night we would watch ABS-CBN displaying on tv screens the hated logo of LG. I wrote to Julius Babao to send his XXX team here but he never responded.
Here comes Ms. Gina Lopez expressing opposition to mining in Palawan. Yes, we rally to her cause. Three people have died because of their anti-mining work in Rapu-Rapu: Rei Mon Guran, Atty. Gil Gujol and Jessie Ecleo.
There are parallels between Palawan and Rapu-Rapu:
1. Palawan: On January 24 a very dear friend and colleague Gerry Ortega was shot in the head dead. I was just with him that weekend - and a few minutes before he died what we were discussing over the phone was an anti-mining campaign in Palawan - given that on December two huge mining applications were railroaded - and they were to be near protected sites.
Rapu-Rapu: On July 31, 2006, Rei Mon Guran, a very young student of Aquinas University of Legazpi was shot dead on the bus he took on his way to school. The day before, he celebrated his birthday; less than two weeks earlier, we had rally against Rapu-Rapu mining in Legazpi City.
Atty. Gil Gujol was among the lawyers who filed a case against Lafayette Philippines, Inc. He was also gunned down in Sorsogon.
Jessie Ecleo was a resident of Rapu-Rapu, Albay. His corpse was found on November 16, 2008 in Sitio Mirikpitik, Barangay Pagcolbon, Rapu-Rapu. His murderer, Danilo Sumbilon Bungca, a CAFGU whose unit is based in the Lafayette mining area, confessed to the crime. Bongca was jailed for a while but today, without any trial conducted, he is at large.
2. Palawan: Gerry is dead but we will not let go of his dreams - and mine - and probably yours too.
Rapu-Rapu: Rei Mon, Atty. Gujol, and Jessie are dead but we continue to work for the closure of the mine.
3. Palawan: has 17 key bio diversity sites - which means it is part of the 70% bio diversity sites which are essential for sustaining life in the planet. It has 2 world heritage sites, 8 protected sites.
Rapu-Rapu: classified as among the areas with an extremely high priority for marine conservation. (DENR and Manila Observatory’s Integrated Marine and Terrestrial Priorities Map cited in Mining in the Philippines: Concerns and Conflicts. Report of a fact-finding mission to the Philippines, July-August 2006)
4. Palawan: Yet if you see Palawan on the map you will note that it is a very thin island - which is 82% mountain. It means that if the forest gets denuded and the minerals excavated - the tailings seep directly into the sea affecting the coral reefs. The top soil is thin - and the island eco system is fragile.
Rapu-Rapu: If you see Rapu-Rapu, it has steep slopes and any tailings will flow speedily to the sea affecting the coral reefs. The top soil is also thin and and the island eco-system is fragile, as attested to by the DENR and Manila Observatory.
5. Palawan: Mining is not the way to go for Palawan. I have five eco tourism sites wherein the communities involved can now send their children to school, can dream bigger dreams. Mayor hagedorn in Puerto Princesa has banned mining and logging - and focused on tourism and agriculture. From 2 flights a week, Puerto Princesa now boasts 10 flights a day. His revenues have gone up from several million to several billion.
Rapu-Rapu: Mining is not the sustainable means of development. We have cited: genuine land distribution, farm subsidies, potable water system, decent housing, fastcraft transportation, environment firnedly roads, power generation, and eco-tourism with preservation of the island's eco-system.
6. Palawan: Mining as an economic path in a magnificent "Last Frontier" is based on a paradigm of economic growth that is myopic and archaic . In this age of climate change and global warming any economic development that does not recognize and revere the web of life should be thrown in the dustbin.
Rapu-Rapu: In a statement released by Aquinas University of Legazpi and the Catholic Educational Association of Legazpi, Rapu-Rapu is cited as Albay's "Last Frontier." The economic paradigm being used came from PGMA, myopic and archaic. In my Powerpoint Presentation, I refer to the Rapu-Rapu mine as "An Open Pit Mine in an Era of Climate Change."
7. Palawan: Please please support the ten million signature campaign to Stop Mining in Palawan. The richness of Palawan is the wealth and pride of the country, it is the wealth of the world.
Rapu-Rapu: Please also support our campaign to close the mine. The wealth of Rapu-Rapu is being plundered by foreigners and local junior partners while the people are slowly dying from poverty.
8. Palawan: Log in to no2mininginpalawan.com. Register your vote and please please send it to thousands others. You can also include your household by downloading the form printing it -and faxing it to 4152227 or you can scan it and send it to email@example.com. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rapu-Rapu: Log on to http://saverapurapu.blogspot.com. We are not gathering votes. We are calling for BOYCOTT OF LG PRODUCTS. DO NOT WATCH TV PATROL FOR AS LONG AS IT DISPLAYS THE LG LOGO.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Coal mining in Rapu-Rapu, nevertheless, pales in comparison to gold, silver, copper and zinc mining being done in the island by RRMI and RRPI. While the former has not caused any fishkill, for example, since way back in the past, the latter has caused five major fishkills since 2005 when it went into full operation. Daily, the residents of the island see dead fish floating in the sea. This is the reason why there is no more major fishkill. There are not that many fish to kill anymore. Instead, fishermen are complaining of a severe drop in fish catch from 20 bañeras of “bolinao” before 2005 to 1 bañera today. Coal mining in Rapu-Rapu has been going on for years but only when Lafayette started its activities did the problems of fishermen and farmers begin.
The difference is like that between the bite of an ant and that of a poisonous cobra. EMB V should put proper perspective in its action. If it is alarmed with coal mining in Rapu-Rapu, it should cry extreme danger with gold, silver, copper and zinc mining. As the Bible says in Matthew 7:3: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Certainly, EMB V can stop coal mining in Rapu-Rapu but first it must stop the bigger and more disastrous mine of RRMI and RRPI. Anything short of that is sheer hypocrisy!
Most companies worldwide have skeletons in their closets that they hope no one will ever see - including themselves. That they’d prefer to look away is institutionalized willful blindness, and it’s reaching epidemic proportions.
Willful blindness started life as a legal concept; it holds that when there are things you could know and should know, but manage not to know, you’re still responsible. The idea was central to the conviction of Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay in the Enron trial. But it’s more than just a legal idea: it’s the bad habit that lies at the heart of far too many businesses.
The full text can be read in this site:http://www.bnet.com/blog/business-strategy/bank-of-america-is-not-the-only-company-that-should-fear-wikileaks/957?promo=713&tag=nl.e713
We believe there is WILLFUL BLINDNESS going on regarding the Rapu-Rapu mine of LG, Kores and MSC. Those working in and for these companies plus those in the Philippine government who have adopted willful blindness as a course of action should take heed because one day the truth will have its day in court. The mine will soon close and those responsible will have to reckon with the judgment of the people and history.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
LG and Kores own a total of 70% of Korea Malaysia Philippines Resources Inc. (the renamed Lafayette Philippines Inc.), the same company that owns in turn RRMI and RRPI. KMPRI is destroying Rapu-Rapu Island. Our boycott campaign of LG products is therefore an appropriate reply.
If war breaks out again in Korea, Filipinos should not help the South. We helped them in the 1950s but look at their act of gratitude – they are destroying our Rapu-Rapu Island, our version of Yeonpeong. These South Korean executives should pack up, close the mine, clean the contamination and enlist in their army to face Kim Jong Il.
Reports from Rapu-Rapu Island by residents confirm the continued presence of members of the paramilitary Citizen Armed Forces for Geographical Units (CAFGU) in the mine site and creeks. The employment of CAFGUs was legalized through an executive order during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, author of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 when she was a senator. The public is not allowed to freely go to the creeks. Members of the NGO Sagip Isla Sagip Kapwa report that whenever outsiders approach the creeks, warning shots are fired.
Violent incidents involving CAFGUs include the arrest on July 26, 2006 of a Greenpeace activist, David Andrade who was merely gathering soil and water samples in Mirikpitik Creek. On November 16, 2008, Jessie Ecleo was found dead in Sitio Mirikpitik, Barangay Pagcolbon. The suspect, CAFGU Daniel Sumbilon Bongca of San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur, admitted that he hit the victim with a lead pipe at the head causing instant death. (See Rapu-Rapu police blotter) Bongca surrendered to the police soon after the incident but today he is at large.
RRMI and RRPI claim that they employ guards in the creeks to prevent anti-mining activists from pouring poison into them. This is a lame excuse because those guards are not able to prevent contamination of the creeks. It is like preventing people from entering a leprosarium not to contain the disease and protect the public but to prevent tinea flava from entering the compound. If the CAFGU presence is intended to preserve the clean condition of the creeks, then why are mining executives unwilling to dip into the water there, even with armed guards? It is obvious that the guards have kept away the activists but not the contamination understandably since the latter comes from the mine site. The truth is that those CAFGUs are there to prevent activists from taking water and soil samples which can be used as evidence in a fair court of law.
The CAFGUs also prevent environmentalists from taking still photos and videos of the latest condition of the creeks. If there is nothing to hide and instead there is evidence of clean operations to show, then why should the public be prevented from viewing the creeks? Opening the creeks to public scrutiny will finally silence the opposition but only if they are clean. Since they are not, the option of RRMI and RRPI is to seal the creeks off.
RRMI and RRPI cannot produce the still photos and videos themselves because there will be questions of credibility. In addition, to clean portions of the creeks for a few hours of photo operation would require ten or even twenty years of scrubbing the banks and creek beds. To do that, they need to suspend mining operations. That option will diminish their profits. So, why clean the creeks? For them it is less costly to hire CAFGUs and prevent eyewitnesses from gathering evidence. They can only arrange tours inside the mine site and show areas they have pre-cleaned and claim their operations are environment-friendly. What need to be visited are areas outside the mine site impacted by mining. Visitors should also interview the people in the island and mainland Albay (there are 14,000 fishermen among them) suffering from loss of livelihood since 2005, the same year when mining went full blast in Rapu-Rapu. The truth about the creeks is crucial to the mining issue because they are the link between the mining operation and the 95% drop in fish catch in Albay Gulf.
Indeed, Rapu-Rapu mining is responsible . . . for severe environmental damage to the island and economic injustice to the people.