The Final Verdict

RRPP Income from 2005 to 2012

RRPP Income from 2005 to 2012

RRPP Income in 2012

RRPP Income in 2012





































































60 Finale

60 Finale

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2011

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2011

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2010

RRPP Income and Taxes in 2010


“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

Giving some; taking so much

Giving some; taking so much

Mining Engineers’ Conference in Legazpi City blind to local residents’ plight!

On July 13 to 15, 2011 some 300 mining engineers converged in Legazpi City for their Bicol regional conference. This event is unfortunate because it projects the impression that mining engineers are blind to the plight of their fellow Filipinos suffering from the environmental damage and economic injustice wrought by mining companies.

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

The DENR recently awarded the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project with the Saringaya Award while the Pollution Control Association of the Philippines, Inc gave it the Mother Nature Award. RRPP also boasts of other “awards” for its alleged “safe and responsible mining” in the island. The project’s executives also claim that they have “raised” the living standards of the host communities.

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!

Ang nagaganap na 1st Bicol Mining Conference mula Hulyo 13-15, 2011 dito sa Bikol (La Piazza Hotel) sa pangunguna ng MGB-V/DENR-V at ng Phil. Society of Mining Engineers ay isa na namang masamang pangitain para sa mamamayang Bikolano. Pag-uusapan na naman ng ahensya ng MGB-5 at DENR-5 kasama ang mga dayuhang korporasyon sa pagmimina kung paano pa uubusin ang yamang mineral ng Kabikolan, wawasakin ang kabundukan, karagatan at kalupaan ng Bikol.

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

There is another blogsite posing as SAVE RAPU-RAPU with address (Note the DASH.) That site is a deception. Even our design is imitated. The obvious motive is to confuse our readers. Our address has NO DASH between the words "rapu" and "rapu." Our site was first posted on December 3, 2007; theirs, on April 14, 2008. Hence, we are first in going online with this URL and design. We learned about the other site only recently. The apologists of the mining operation in the island can go to this and other lengths just to sow confusion. Deceptive tactics are a disservice to readers and only reveal the desperation of the pro-Rapu-Rapu mining group. Our readers are, therefore, warned.

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

around Rapu-Rapu. They connect the mine site to Albay Gulf. The current severe decline in fish catch in the gulf is blamed on the mining operation in Rapu-Rapu. The decline started in 2005 as reported by fishermen; that's the same year when Lafayette began full operation. That is also the same year when the first two major fishkills started (October 11 and 31). The toxic spills came from the mine site and reached the surrounding body of water via the creeks. The contamination in those creeks will always damage the corral reefs in Albay Gulf. The effluent coming out of the mouths of the creeks prevents the entry of migratory fish from the Pacific Ocean into the gulf.

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

MGB V Director Reynulfo A. Juan wrote to SARA Spokesperson Virgilio S. Perdigon, Jr. on April 15, 2011:

"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).


Perching not bathing: The people in the creeks are not actually in contact with the water. They are perching on rocks instead, obviously avoiding the effluent.


Hidden feet and rubber boots: 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.

Vegetation avoids water: 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.














Standing not bathing: 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.


What creek picnic? A group of men seated around some food are not bathing. 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.


Bathing not in creeks: 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.
In contrast to those of MGB V, the following photographs of a clean creek at the foot of Mayon Volcano show very close affinity of the vegetation to the water and even the rocks.
In healthy creeks like those in Mayon Volcano: the leaves mingle with the water and the creek beds are green with moss.
While this Mayon creek is almost crystal clear, yellowish coloration is evident in the creeks emanating from the mine site in Rapu-Rapu photographed by MGB V. The MMT report is silent about results of sampling for heavy metals and freshwater organisms. Allowing us free access and surprise visits would have revealed if there are even snails in the creeks. The armed guards under the Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) base are very strong evidence that something is being hidden in the Rapu-Rapu creeks.

Then and Now: What Difference? What Improvement in the Creeks?

According to RRPP, the coloration of the creeks has improved. However, during the Technical Conference with the Environment Management Bureau Region V and Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance on April 26, Engr. Rogelio Corpus, President of RRMI, said that the difference between the pictures then and now is not significant. He requested the Presiding Officer, Engr. Henry Lopez of EMB V, for permission to present RRPP pictures taken on April 25. The RRPP pictures, however, cannot be verified independently because the mining companies do not want "free access and surprise visits" to the creeks. They do not want to withdraw the armed guards "to protect their interests." As an environmentalist organization, SARA wants to protect the environment. It follows that the interests of RRPP are contrary to those of the environment.

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.

Pagcolbon gabion

Pagcolbon downstream gabion

Pagcolbon downstream

Pagcolbon downstream looking towards the sea

Pagcolbon shoreline

Pagcolbon downstream

Pagcolbon shoreline

Hollowstone downstream

Hollowstone shoreline

Maypajo shoreline
So, is there any significant difference then and now?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gabriela slams AFP moves to further militarize mining communities

Gabriela Women's Party
January 30, 2008...2:52 am

Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan today slammed proposals hatched by AFP Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon to train and provide militias to mining corporations in the country.
“Undoubtedly, this will lead to more human rights violations and displacement of tens of thousands in mining areas all over the country. This has been the experience of many Lumad communities in Mindanao and even in other regions when indigenous groups opt to oppose the destruction of their land and the disruption of their lives by the operations of big mining firms all over the country,” said Rep. Ilagan.

The Gabriela solon from Mindanao cited the massive evacuation in 12 lumad communities in November last year due to military operations intended to protect mining explorations around the AndapValley Complex, the second largest coal deposit in the country and where Chinese mining corporations have investments. “Military activities threatened the lumad and peasant communities in the municipalities of Tago, Cagwait, Marihatag, San Agustin, Lianga and San Miguel in Surigao del Sur who are actively opposing the mining operations.”

According to Ilagan, “It is very alarming that instead of conducting consultations in communities, mining firms and multinationals opt for the military solution in order to continue operations and pursue profits at the expense our communities. We have received reports that the increasing presence of military detachments and the installation of police checkpoints are observed in other mining-affected areas nationwide, including Lafayette in Rapu-Rapu island, Albay, Filminera in Masbate island, Marcopper in Marinduque island, TVI in Zamboanga del Norte, NMRDC in Mt. Diwalwal, Rio Tuba in Palawan, Crew Minerals in Mindoro Oriental, Climax Arimco/Oxiana in Nueva Vizcaya, Abra, Batangas, and Zambales.”

Ilagan further said that of the 886 victims of extrajudicial killings documented by the human rights organization, KARAPATAN from January 2001 to July 2007, 17 have been identified as being active or leading the campaign against mining projects in their respective communities.

News reports revealed, that the AFP has offered to assist mining firms in their security requirements, offering to organize, train and equip private security guards to protect exploration and production sites from rebel attacks. “This is clearly a move towards the intensification of militarization of mining communities and has to be stopped.” said Ilagan. #

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bishop apprehensive over influx of mining firms

CBCP News Online, Diocesan News

BOAC, Marinduque, 18 January 2008— Boac Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista expressed apprehension over the reported influx of mining companies in the country.

The government claims that the surge of mining firms in the country will further strengthen the economy and bring down unemployment.

Bishop Evangelista, in an interview with CBCPNews, said he is “not confident these companies will adhere to best practices in extracting our minerals especially with the kind of monitoring that our government provides.”

The prelate added “let's accept it: many of our officials are corrupt.”

He said he could only pray for the affected communities. Marinduque figured in a serious environmental catastrophe in 1996 when a tailings pond operated by Marcopper Mining Corporation collapsed burying riverbeds in about three million tons of toxic mine wastes. Farms and marine life were severely affected. (Melo Acuña)

‘Green’ courts

Florangel Rosario Braid

More to the Point, Manila Bulletin

Sunday, January 20, 2008

WE welcome the designation of 117 trial courts as environment courts. This gives more leverage to the prosecution of environment criminals. It also provides support and encouragement to volunteers in the green movement. The quick action by the Supreme Court following the recommendation of the Philippine Judicial Academy was noted by the public with great appreciation.

That there has been an increase in environmental advocacy is shown by a greater awareness of the impact of climate change and implications of years of neglect which had resulted in the deterioration of our life resources. Unfortunately, this awareness has not been translated into practice. Air and water pollution continues to be high. In fact, Metro Manila was at one time known as the highest air polluters in the region. Last year, we were at the top in the list of countries that experienced the most number of natural disasters. We continue to disregard warnings about our dwindling water resources, the effect of production of plastics and non-renewal forms of energy on flood control measures, and other environment-unfriendly lifestyles. How many of us are really making drastic changes in our lives such as monitoring our consumption levels?

We agree with Senator Loren Legarda’s advocacy for climate change rather than Charter change and are pleased to learn that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had given recognition to IEC (information, education and communication) in this important task of environmental advocacy. This, it had done by declaring 2008 as IEC Year to remind us that IEC is a necessary and critical component of all development programs. However, such rhetoric has not been translated into budgetary support for government IEC activities. Awareness-building is merely the first step, just as regarding IEC as a support to other activities, one of the less important functions of a comprehensive IEC strategy. If appropriate action is expected, the information must first be translated into knowledge that enables us to think critically, evaluate alternatives, and arrive at needed solution. Such knowledge should have appeal at both rational and emotional levels to effect sustainable behaviour change.

Former Vice President Al Gore was a successful environmental advocate because he was able to do just that – craft a message that had appeal to both minds and hearts. The lesson from his Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" (which also helped him win the Nobel Prize), is that a message must focus on a survival issue, based on facts, have clarity and consistency, and combine rational and emotional appeal. Too, and even more important is source or institutional credibility. IEC strategy planning would therefore require well-trained and highly creative professionals.

The legislature had done its part as we have more environmental laws than needed. The judiciary, by creating the green courts had demonstrated its commitment. The Executive Department, notwithstanding its seriousness in fulfilling its mandate, needs further rationalization. While the DENR is the principal environmental agency, the Department of Agriculture (notably the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources or BFAR), and the Department of Agrarian Reform have resource management functions as well. Although the primary mandate of DENR is on protection and conservation, it has another function — exploitation or extraction of our mineral and forestry resources, which is inconsistent with its principal mandate. Any attempt towards rationalization should focus on these two gaps — need for improved coordination and monitoring, and reconciling inconsistencies in departmental mandates. My e-mail is

Can Green Courts deliver Green Justice?

Francis N. Tolentino

Opinions and Editorials, Manila Bulletin

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Supreme Court’s recent declaration of 117 "environmental courts" in the Philippines is surely another step ahead towards our environmental protection agenda.

With the hopefully expeditious resolution of several hundreds of environmental cases pending in our trial courts, we finally give Mother Nature the justice she has long yearned for.

According to a recent study conducted by the World Bank, the Philippines spends around R14 billion each year in the treatment of water pollution, air pollution and in improving sanitation. Green courts are perceived not only to resolve and penalize environmental violators, but as well as help diminish ecological protection costs and increase the people’s awareness of our environmental laws.

Recognizing the importance of establishing environmental courts, "some eighty judges, prosecutors and legal experts from forty Asia-Pacific nations attended the three-day ‘Greening the Bench’ conference (in Bangkok ), which aims to boost enforcement of environmental laws in the region. Environmental courts and tribunals have been established across the region, including Australia , Bangladesh , New Zealand , Thailand , Pakistan and India ."

Only in September of this year, as world concern for climate change increases even more, there was also "renewed interest in a longstanding proposal for the creation of an international court to try environmental cases." This proposal hopes to gradually diminish the number of "crimes against nature" that continue to contribute to rapid and irreversible global warming.

Environmental courts have long been in existence around the world. Some of these include:

* Sweden — with 5 environmental courts, 6 Water Courts and 24 Land Courts. Each court is composed of a technical environmental adviser, and two expert lay judges. "The courts grant permits for larger industrial installations and for activities in water including groundwater."

* Denmark — "There has been long experience in Denmark with a form of environmental court, the Environmental Appeals Board. This Board, although linked to the Ministry of Environment and Energy, is required by statute to be independent of any instructions relating to the review of and decisions in individual cases." Environmental courts in Denmark consist of a Chairman (which should be a high court judge) one or more deputy(ies) chairmen (which should also be a judge/judges), and other expert members (who are often scientist and engineers from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency).

* Ireland — Ireland ’s environmental court is also called An Bord Pleanala (the Planning Appeal Board). The board handles appeals and other environmental matters. It was established in 1976 and is now a "quasi-judicial specialized body, consisting of specialized planning/environmental personnel. It makes its decisions based on strict statutory guidelines and may utilize site visits and oral hearings in its deliberations. It is independent of central government…There is no political interference with the decision of the Board."

* New Zealand — The Environmental Court of New Zealand was established in 1996, and is vested with all the powers of a court, "including many of the procedural powers of a district court…It can make a range of procedural orders, and has the power to direct that amendments be made, on the merits, to regional or district statements or plans. It has jurisdiction to issue declaratory judgements concerning the existence or extent of any function, power, right, obligation or duty, and whether there are inconsistencies between policies. It has extensive powers to make orders requiring the cessation of activities which are in contravention of a plan, or doing anything that is like objectionable to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on the environment."

* New South Wales, Australia — Established in 1980 by virtue of the Land and Environment Court Act of 1979, New South Wales’ Land and Environment Court is considered "as a superior court or record and a specialist court enjoying integrated jurisdiction…The court itself was established to deal with disputes arising under all environmental statutes, of which there are twenty-five."

* India — India has over 200 environmental laws, and its Environmental Law Supreme Court helps the government implement these laws. The court "closes down companies that continue to pollute the environment as well as making it mandatory for TV and radio stations to run environmental programs."

* Memphis , Tennessee — The Shelby County Environmental Court was created in 1991 vested not only with the powers to settle environmental disputes but to also help Memphis in enforcing its environmental laws. The court’s major areas of concern include: Health Code violations (such as sanitation, mosquito control, rabies control, pollution control, infectious diseases), Housing Code violations, Fire Code violations and Building and Zoning Code violations.

Environmental protection comes foremost, we believe, if we are to truly advance economic and social interests. The main problem that will confront our Green Courts would be the lack of sufficient legislation and scientific knowledge on the key area of "environmental damage", as defining environmental damage remains a complex issue, unresolved even by international law.

There is no Philippine law that will answer the following questions yet: What constitutes environmental damage? And what level of environmental damage might give rise to liability?

How can our Green Courts resolve cases seeking restitution or reparation when the law is silent? Principles of equity should not be the sole basis. M. Bowman is his book "Environmental Damage in International and Comparative Law"(2002) said: "Pure damage to the environment may be incapable of calculation in economic terms, although it may have a non-economic value requiring restoration to the state prior to the damage occurring". Even the EC Commission in its 1993 Green Paper recognized the difficulty of environmental restoration: "An extinct species cannot be replaced. Pollutants emitted into the air or water are difficult to retrieve."

Our Supreme Court showed the way. We have green courts but insufficient laws. Perhaps our Congress should follow. (E-mail address:

Atienza, Cayetano welcome SC’s creation of 117 ‘green’ courts

JC Bello Ruiz

Main News, Manila Bulletin

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza and Sen. Pia Cayetano welcomed yesterday the Supreme Court’s move to designate 117 trial courts as "green" courts, saying this would expedite the prosecution of environmental criminals and bolster efforts to enforce environmental laws.

"This is a very welcome move. We have long wanted to have green courts which would give special attention to violations of environmental laws. From the ranks of the judiciary will now emerge fiscals and judges who are thoroughly capable in promulgating judicial decisions on lands, forestry, conservation, and other environmental laws," Atienza said in a statement.

Senator Cayetano, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the move is a "whiff of fresh, unpolluted air."

The "green" courts will handle expeditiously all environmental cases like those involving illegal fishing, illegal logging, illegal mining, and dumping of toxic wastes.

The environmental activist group Greenpeace, for its part, said SC’s move would also enhance the enforcement of existing environmental laws which it said are "some of the most abused edicts in the land."

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez noted that "despite groundbreaking laws like the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Waste Management Act, illegal dumpsites keep on proliferating across the country and the ban on the open burning of waste continues to be violated with wild abandon."

Atienza said with the creation of the green courts, the DENR could concentrate on presenting documents to strengthen prosecution, leading to conviction.

"Environmentalists have long waited and worked hard for the creation of green courts. This was impelled by their experience that environmental cases have been either dismissed quickly or have languished in courts for several years," Atienza said.

To illustrate the long time involved in deciding environmental cases, Atienza cited the cases of confiscated vehicles and forest products.

"After several years since confiscation, many of these vehicles and forest products are still in the compounds of DENR offices. They are now rotting because the cases remain undecided. If the government got a favourable decision from the courts, it could have disposed of this contraband and used the proceeds for public good," Atienza said.

In 2006, DENR records showed that 1,529 cases were filed in court for violation of forestry laws alone. Of this number, 962 were still under litigation, 10 for arraignment and pre-trial, 75 cases dismissed, four for provisionary dismissal, eight inquested at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), 83 filed at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, 18 archived, and 172 still pending in court.

Meanwhile, Cayetano yesterday expressed hope the Supreme Court’s move would lead to an effective punishment of known environmental criminals and encourage pro-environment advocates to persist in legal and political struggles against known plunderers of the environment.

The senator said she is now looking forward to the prompt resolution of two major environmental disputes in the last two decades: the pending class suit in the Marcopper mine tailings spill in the province of Marinduque in 1996 and the class suit filed against Lafayette Mining Corp. for the cyanide spill that caused massive fish kills in Rapu Rapu, Albay in 2005.

"More than a decade has passed since the biggest mining disaster in our history, but justice continues to elude Marinduqueños even while the mining company involved has long packed its bags and returned to its mother country," Cayetano said.

She also expressed hope that the environmental courts will also focus on expediting the cases on violations of the Fisheries Code, particularly the several cases pending against foreign poachers caught off the rich marine waters of Palawan and Sulu seas.

Cayetano, who also chairs the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001 (RA 9003), said she also looks forward to the early resolution of people’s complaints against local government units for violating the law’s total ban on the operation of dumpsites. (with a report by Hannah Torregoza)

Mutual support sought from miners to aid environment

How best may we call this situation? The blind leading the blind? After all, both parties seem generally, most of the time, morally deaf, mute and blind. More like a thief joining forces with another thief to con a homeowner into believing they have his best interests in mind. Poor guy, poor us.

"'Mining activities going hand in hand with caring for the environment is now among the programs of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This is also the direction that the DENR has taken,' the DENR chief said."

For the local DENR this means praising Lafayette for its contribution to this "new and enlightened" government direction on mining the last time the mine firm made a show of planting seedlings in Rapu-Rapu by partnering with a local bogus green group. Lafayette executives thought they shot the proverbial two birds with this one project: (1) paint
themselves a shade greener and looking supportive of government policies and (2) cast doubt on the cohesiveness and integrity of the local community's stand against large-scale mining in their place. Succeeding events, however, proved that one was an exercise in futility. But wait... there's more! To add further governmental collusion to the farce, the local PIA partnered with the mine firm in disseminating its press release.

I'd like to think I'm only anti-Lafayette, not anti-mining per se, but with miners and government like this... whew! And apparently I'm not the only one thinking the same thing. Check out what
Bishop Evangelista of Boac, Marinduque just recently said.

Mutual support sought from miners to aid environment
Provincial News, Manila Bulletin
Sunday, January 13, 2008

President Arroyo has directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to bolster initiatives that will ensure that mining operators do their part in protecting the environment.

"The government is supporting the growth and development of the mining industry. The industry in turn must do its part for the environment," she said.

"I have ordered the DENR to strengthen measures to ensure that mining operations are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable, with broad community and political support," she added.

An association of quarry operators in the Western Visayas has thrown its support to the government’s greening program in a bid to show that mining operations and caring for the environment go hand in hand in Iloilo .

"I am pleased that Iloilo quarry operators are working with the government through DENR to establish a five-hectare forest plantation in Dingle, Iloilo . This is a very good step in the right direction for the mining industry," the President said.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said the gesture of the Iloilo Quarry Permittees Association, Inc. (IQPAI) bolsters the government efforts to create a strong mining industry while, at the same time, protecting and preserving the environment.

"Mining activities going hand in hand with caring for the environment is now among the programs of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This is also the direction that the DENR has taken," the DENR chief said.

The IQPAI is composed of 48 members who are involved in sand-and-gravel and other small-scale mining in Iloilo province. It recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the DENR in response to the Department’s call for all sectors of the society to help strengthen the government’s greening efforts throughout the country through President Arroyo’s Green Philippines Program (GPP).

Under the agreement, IQPAI has committed to establish a five-hectare forest plantation within the 854-hectare Bulabog-Putian National Park in Dingle, Iloilo to help in the restoration and rehabilitation of the protected area.

IQPAI has also agreed to provide the funds needed for labour, materials, maintenance and other expenses for the project. The funds will be drawn from the mine rehabilitation cash fund of the association.

IQPAI president Joebert A. Anares said the association would expand the forest plantation by five hectares per year in the next five years until it reaches the total of 25 hectares of forest area developed within the national park.

Anares also said that the association’s Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committee ensures that the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Plan (EPEP) of each of their projects is properly implemented.

Under the revitalized mining industry, the DENR strictly requires every mining company to implement extensive environmental programs even during the pre-feasibility phase of operations to ensure the protection of the environment and biodiversity.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Signs of the Times 2: huge anti-Lafayette sign at the Albay Cathedral gate

This 8'x12' tarp greets churchgoers and passers-by at the main gate of the Albay Cathedral of St. Gregory the Great since December 2007. It presents the now famous picture taken of the October 2007 fish kill in Rapu-Rapu. The text says:

Lafayette says this is a hoax.
Rapu-Rapu's suffering is real.

When will our government take side with the people?
Close the Lafayette mine! Save Rapu-Rapu, Save our future.

Diocese of Legazpi. Social Action Center.

Amb. Tony Hely: Ugly Australian?

1. Australian Amb. Hely says "(mining) investments should be viewed as 'developmental' investments which are also financing socio-economic projects." Well, excuse me. Who is he kidding? Everybody in Albay (including those who issue denials in official reports) knows Lafayette's operation in Rapu-Rapu is anything but developmental. "Envelop-mental" perhaps? And their socio-economic projects? Dubious, palliative and designed to deceive.

2. And he
intends to “talk to the Philippine government to address the matter so that the reputation of the Philippines as an investment site is not tarnished.” Hmm, shades of Rod Watt (another Australian, by the way) bullying no less than Pres. Arroyo herself into granting Lafayette PEZA (tax-exempt) status, doing so after promising tax benefit heavens to naively convinced or greedily willing (or both) local officials at the start of his company's operation in Rapu-Rapu.

3. Mr. Hely also noted the continuing (he failed to note it's widespread)
opposition to Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu. Is he lumping now the legitimate expressions of discontent against Lafayette among the security threats to Australian mining interests in the country?

His pronouncements may be a bit understandable considering the beating - economic, political and para-military - Australian mining firms in the country have been dealt with recently.
Not that we espouse violence as a solution, but the question has to be asked: Didn't they had it coming, considering the abuse of the environment, corruption of local officials, violations of already flawed mining laws, and other misconduct that most of them have committed time and again?

By these statements, is Mr. Hely really serving the best interest of Australia, or just the best interest of socially-unaccepted Australian mining firms? Looks like Australian miners are the new "ugly American" in the Philippines. And is Mr. Hely their top representative here?

About time green groups storm again
with protests the Australian Embassy.

Australian envoy airs security concern in mining operations
By Marianne V. Go

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Australian Ambassador Tony Hely expressed concern yesterday over security threats on the Philippine mining operations of several Australian companies.

In an interview with The STAR, Hely said Australia ’ intends to “talk to the Philippine government to address the matter so that the reputation of the Philippines as an investment site is not tarnished.”

Hely noted that there are a number of Australian investments in the country’s 23 major mining operations.

He said these investments should be viewed as “developmental” investments which are also financing socio-economic projects.

Hely admitted the Australian government has raised concerns over recent security threats to some mining projects with Australian business interest.

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) recently raided the copper-gold mining operations of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan, Mindanao .

The NPA attack reportedly resulted in an estimated P12 million in damages to SMI.

SMI is the local subsidiary of Australian mining giant Xstrata Copper.

Xstrata acquired a 62.5-percent controlling interest in the Tampakan project from Indophil Resources NL.

Likewise, Hely also cited the continuing opposition of some environmental and non-government organizations (NGOs) to the mining operation of the Lafayette Mining Group in Rapu-Rapu Island , Albay.

Hely acknowledged that such security threats are a factor in attracting and solidifying more foreign investments in the Philippine mining sector.

Several other Australian mining giants such as BHP Billiton have made initial exploratory investments in some mining projects, but have still not committed in a much more substantial manner.

Strengthen ties with LGUs, mine companies urged

Lafayette certainly has not much problem as far as its ties with LGUs here are concerned.

Ask the the five barangay captains who each issued certification that there was no fish kill in their barangays. You know to whom they addressed the certification? To the DENR investigating team who first used it in their report? No. To the Municipal Council? No. To the Mayor then? No. To the Lafayette headquarters in Rapu-Rapu? Yes!

Ask Rapu-Rapu Mayor Dick Galicia who will do anything just so the fish kill won't be linked to Lafayette, from denying any fish kill to have happened, to accusing the Vice-Mayor of perpetrating it, to not declaring a state of emergency in Rapu-Rapu so as not to imply that residents are dying of hunger due to the fish kill.

Ask Albay Provincial Board Members who would rather discuss their's & their staff's bonuses, small-town lottery, & other 'urgent' matters, than listening to the complaints of Rapu-Rapu residents who camped outside the capitol for more than a week last December.

Ask Albay BM Celso Aytona who shooed away Rapu-Rapu residents at a Committee on Environment hearing on the fish kill, saying that their advocacy was anti-Lafayette, & therefore, had nothing to do with the agendum his committee was discussing at that time.

Yup, Lafayette certainly has no problem establishing ties with our LGUs here. Lafayette already have them tied by their necks.

Strengthen ties with LGUs, mine companies urged
By Daxim Lucas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 00:02am (Mla time) 01/14/2008

FOREIGN-OWNED mining firms operating in the Philippines are expected to remain the favourite targets of insurgents and bandits as more mines enter the production phase, an Israeli security expert warned.

More importantly, mining firms should put up a more comprehensive plan that involves not only beefing up their security forces but also taking a proactive stance vis-a-vis the communities in which they operate.

This recommendation comes as the government pledged more troops and police to secure mine sites following a New Year's Day attack by the New People's Army on an Australian mining firm in Tampakan, South Cotabato .

"It is not enough to just have more [security] guards," said Josef Gueta, who is a director of Makati-based Business Profiles Inc. (BPI). "Companies need a plan that involves all aspects of the operation."

He said the common mistake made by many foreign mining operators in the country was to rely too much on military or police forces to protect the physical infrastructure at their mine sites.

The main weakness of this tack, he explained, is that military and police forces are already spread too thinly in most areas, preventing them from giving full attention to many mining firms.

Gueta, who has had extensive security consulting experience in the country since 1990, said it is not enough for miners to simply "throw money at the local communities" especially since this encourages a frame of mind of mendicancy among the local population.

"What mining firms need is to hire development managers who will look at the actual, and not just the perceived, needs of the communities," he said.

Failure to do so often results to a mismatch of the mining firm's ideas versus the sentiment felt on the ground in the community--a mismatch which he believes contributed to last week's attack by the New People's Army on the base camp of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan, South Cotabato .

The stand of the consulting firm jibes with Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza's view that security-related delays in the operations of mining firms are caused by their failure to sufficiently engage the local population.

Specifically, Atienza said in a recent interview that some mining firms fail to dialogue with local government units (LGUs) and take into account the needs of the communities where they operate--a failure that leads to broad resentment and dissatisfaction that, in turn, encourages insurgent attacks.

The New Year's Day attack on SMI's facilities follows similar "punitive actions" by the NPA last year on foreign miners in Camarines Sur and Surigao del Norte, all of which involve attacks of 100 fighters or more, according to BPI security risk analyst Luz Bolo.

Both SMI and Australia 's Lafayette Mining Ltd., she said, have received threats from the NPA although the latter enjoys relatively better protection, being located on an island that is difficult to ingress and egress from.

"They have a list of Canadian and Australian firms which they will attack," she explained, pointing out that locally owned mining operations have so far been attacked. "Their main stand is 'no to mining' but we see that this is mainly about money."

Gueta explained that since the NPA endears itself to the local population by taking on a "Robin Hood" image, mining firms can undermine this strategy by beating the rebels at their own game, and directly helping the communities in which they operate.

"But for this to work, the company should know how to involve every aspect of their operations in the plan," he said. "This is not just the security department working, but also those in operations, community relations and even human resources."

"Securing mine sites in the Philippines is a long-term commitment," he added.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tourism is the way to go

Marvin A. Tort
Business Mirror

Tourism has great potential as a driver of Philippine economic growth. One doesn’t have to look far to realize the beauty of the country geographically and culturally, and what it has to offer the outside world. Local beaches, in particular, are major come-ons to vacationers worldwide.

The issue is infrastructure. Time and time again the government has been asked to put more money in facilities, transportation, logistics and security to provide for easier and safer travelling to and around the country by local and foreign tourists. Even the so-called holiday economics can be more beneficial if tourism infrastructure is vast and competent.

The Korean phenomenon is a clear example of the Philippines ’ tourism potential. And despite complaints from local tour operators, one cannot begrudge Korean tour operators from keeping the business to themselves. They saw the opportunity and did something about it, so they are now reaping the benefits.

Obviously, Department of Tourism (DOT) officials also realize the industry’s great potential. In fact, in a news report yesterday, one official was quoted as saying that targets have already been raised for 2008: 5 million inbound tourists from more than 3 million in 2007; and, $5.8 billion in tourism receipts from $4.8 billion last year—although all these were set before the recent stock-market crash in the United States, which adversely affected markets worldwide.

In its year-end report for 2007, the DOT said it was setting its sights on high-value tourists going to areas such as the Bicol Region and Western, Central and Eastern Visayas; specifically, the islands of Palawan, Romblon, Camiguin and Siargao—all major beach areas. After all, beaches are the main attraction in the tropics, so why not push that? The Philippines can definitely compete with the likes of Thailand and other exotic destinations in Southeast Asia , at least in terms of natural bounties. It’s now just a matter of matching, if not exceeding, other countries in terms of tourism infrastructure and services.

Last year was a relatively good year for Philippine tourism. For the first time ever, foreign arrivals breached the 3-million mark to hit 3.09 million, while tourist expenditure reportedly grew 40.99 percent to reach $4.885 billion, surpassing the $3.78-billion target. In its report, the DOT noted that in 2007 the core markets included China and Korea , while efforts were made to promote newer areas such as India and some European countries. And the aim was to attract not only more tourists, but also higher-value visitors who would stay longer in the country and spend more.

The 2008 targets would not be that easy to achieve, considering some challenges. Even the DOT noted that fiercer competition in Southeast Asia , changes in tourist behaviour, international concerns such as global warming and terrorism, and the rise of the Chinese and Indian economies, among other things, have all contributed to a tourism industry that has become increasingly difficult to grow.

And as more tourists are enticed to visit the Philippines , the strain on infrastructure can become more evident, and unless properly addressed soon, this would certainly hinder future growth. To date, hotel occupancy rates in Metro Manila are close to 80 percent already, while airport-capacity utilization is already beyond nominal maximum capacity, the DOT reported.

The plus side is that tourism is now earning more, given, among other things, the longer average stay of tourists to 17 nights from a previous 12 nights. As such, in the short-term, the DOT plans to maximize the use of existing airports, hotels and transportation as additional investments in infrastructure are sought. Squeezed to the last drop, so to speak.

Anyway, things are still looking up. Arrivals from Korea (21.2 percent of total tourist arrivals in 2007) continued to show robust growth, while Chinese tourist traffic (5.1 percent) maintained a steady upswing. More and varied types of tourists are also being lured to the country, including golfers, divers, students, honeymooners and families, the DOT said.

The USA accounted for 18.7 percent of arrivals, while Japan accounted for 12.8 percent, the DOT reported. Others in the top 10 were visitors from Australia , Taiwan , Hong Kong , Singapore , Canada , and the United Kingdom . Even arrivals from Russia , while relatively small, grew by 128 percent, while those from Scandinavia grew 24 percent. India also showed double-digit gains, making it one of the fastest-growing markets after China , the DOT reported.

One can only hope that more public and private investments can soon find their way to tourism infrastructure. More hotels, obviously, would do the Philippines a lot of good. In the event of another Peninsula or Oakwood siege in Makati City, tourists would not have to flee and leave the country—they can just move to the hotel next door and continue to enjoy their stay in sunny Philippines.

Group sees thousands of cases in green courts

By Jonathan Mayuga

THE 117 “green” courts created by the Supreme Court (SC) will face a deluge of environmental problems and crimes related to mining.

This was the assessment of environmental activists belonging to Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) saying nearly half-a-million hectares of land have been approved for large-scale mining operations since the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 7942 and the passage of the Minerals Action Plan.

The passing of RA 7942, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, was followed by the issuance of the Minerals Action Plan under Executive Order 270 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

So far, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has approved 28 exploration permits covering a total of 89,828.76 hectares of land nationwide, as well as 229 Mineral Production Sharing Agreements covering a total of 373,201 hectares and two Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements covering 51,919 hectares of land nationwide. Over 2,000 more applications for mining permits are pending approval by the DENR.

According to Kalikasan-PNE, crimes against the environment and the people will worsen for as long as the government continues to aggressively promote the liberalization of the Philippine mining industry.

“Critical watershed areas and bodies of water face toxic contamination from mine pollution. Rich agricultural regions stand to be permanently converted into desolate wastelands,” the group said in a statement.

Deforestation, a major contributor to global warming, will occur in the course of clearing lands for mining operations, the group warned.

“Human-rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, against environmental advocates and indigenous peoples will escalate for as long as the current administration continues to extend military protection and support for mining companies,” Kalikasan-PNE added.

The group said the problem is not just with the number of environmental cases that the green courts will have to face, but the current economic policies that are generating all sorts of environmental problems by the minute, creating a cycle of plunder and crimes.

“The judiciary has taken a step forward for environmental justice through the green courts. The real challenge now is for the Arroyo administration to overhaul the bane of current policies, such as the Mining Act of 1995, that have contributed so much to environmental crimes and ecological problems,” Kalikasan-PNE said.

Expansion of Lafayette's operation is meeting stiff resistance from various stakeholders

Expansion of Lafayette's operation is meeting stiff resistance from various stakeholders

CIRCA flaunts the Ten Commandments of Climate Change

Commandment Number 7 states: Thou shall not resort to open pit mining . . . to avert climate change. Notice the photo of the CIRCA Executive Director at lower left.

CIRCA Defies SARA Boycott Call

CIRCA Defies SARA Boycott Call

Though blurred, the LG label is still visible on the flat screen.

Evidence that Nong Rangasa suggested to invite mining companies to his LGU Summit + 3i exhibit

Evidence that Nong Rangasa suggested to invite mining companies to his LGU Summit + 3i exhibit
Excerpt from the minutes of the meeting on October 11, 2010