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.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
German Money for Philippine Gold
Since the Philippine government has made the promotion of mining one of its priorities, hardly a year goes by without “Mining Roadshows” aiming to attract mining investors from countries like China, Great Britain, France or Australia. Until now promotion events of this kind have not taken place in Germany, but yet German banks are involved in mining projects in the Philippines as shareholders or finance providers.
By Maike Grabowski
Maike Grabowski is Social Anthropologist and staff of philippinenbüro
The Philippine mining industry is mostly controlled by foreign companies.
Since mining in the Philippines stagnated for many years, the year 1995 saw the adoption of the Mining Act, that provides foreign companies with a total right of possession (before 1995 it was only possible for them to have a 40% share) as well as ample facilities.
Given that, foreign companies are now able to lease up to 81,000 ha of land for 25 years, while Philippine companies can only lease 8000 ha per province and only 16,000 ha in total (cf.mgb.gov.ph/asomm/policy.htm).
In the face of economic incentives, foreign mining transactions are virtually tax free during the first five years. Moreover these foreign companies have preferential access to water and wood, and the Philippine government committed itself to removing every obstacle which could hinder the mining process.
Furthermore foreign companies are allowed unchecked and unbounded return on their earnings and promised protection from dispossession. According to Mining Act restraints, the local population has to be consulted and asked for permission (Free and Prior Informed Consent – FPIC) and environmental standards have to be observed. But the government inadequately observes the implementation of these restrains and in most cases companies are not held accountable for their violations (Reese 2006). With license revenues of approximately six billion US-Dollar annually, the Philippine government expects a boost for the cash-strapped national budget.
According to mining critics, however, foreign mining companies contribute only six percent to the national income, while causing 57% of the total damage to the environment (cf. nordis.net).
Marketing for mining
The aim of the Philippine government in regard to the mining industry is highly ambitious: just recently it has raised the amount of projected foreign direct investments until 2011 from 6.5 billion to 11.4 billion US-Dollar.
2007 has been declared the “take-off” year for the mining industry and the list of national mining projects, which are to be separately sponsored, has been expanded from 24 to 30 projects (the list of projects can be found at: mgb.gov.ph/miningportal/home.htm).
Since 2004 foreign mining companies have been investing 879 million US-Dollar in order to explore new mining sites and to modernize old ones.
According to the government, the country has mineral resources worth one trillion (cf. Mining investments goal now $ 10.4 billion, Business World, 17.10.2007).
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has received more than 2000 applications for mining licences (Stankovitch et al. 2007).
Foreign exchange is the motto
Despite political risks, foreign companies have increasingly invested in the Philippine mining sector. The first half of 2007 alone saw a foreign direct investment flow of 103 billion US-Dollars (Business World, 17.10.07). In doing so, investors haven’t been bothered by the massive protests from the local population.
The Philippines regularly endure so called mining-related environmental accidents, which have severe consequences for the ecological balance and the local population. Recently large numbers of fish were mysteriously killed in a gold and copper mining area in Rapu-Rapu owned by the Australian company Lafayette Mining.
German banks in the Philippines
Since state-owned and private financial backers were increasingly criticised in the 1990s for not caring enough about the observance of ecological and social standards while granting credits, most German banks today bring attention to their sustainable strategies. The Deutsche Bank for example wrote: “Sustainability for us means future viability – with the aim of passing on a healthy environment and stable economic and social conditions to future generations. We consider social, ethical and ecological aspects over and above legal regulations in our daily business routine” (deutschebank.de/csr/nachhaltigkeit.html).
But with these words, which may sound like music to one’s ears, one must add the fact that out of all the German banks, only the Dresdner Bank and the WestLB signed the voluntary agreement of the Equator Principles (see box). This speaks another language. Moreover it makes one wonder, that despite all of their sustainable strategies, the Deutsche Bank , the Dresdner Bank, as well as the Allianz AG, all invest in controversial mining projects. These projects trigger massive protests from the local population, because they often go hand in hand with significant environmental damage and negative impacts on the local population.
The Allianz AG in Nueva Vizacya
Holding 10.2 percent of the shares of the British company Metals Exploration, the Allianz AG is its biggest shareholder. Metals Exploration, which also appears in the Philippines under the names FCF Mining Company or MTL Exploration Company, collaborates with the Philippine mining company Philsaga Mining Corp.
Their mining and exploration sites are located mainly in Nueva Viscaya (in Puray, Runruno, Dupax, Sulong, Capaz).
Due to recurring protests from indigenous people, putting up a fight against the mining companies ´ presence on their ancestral grounds, Langley Segundo, the commissioner of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for Cagayan Valley, now finally advocates a revision and reevaluation of mining licenses in the region (cf. gascon.wordpress.com/2008/01/11/secondlook). There are protests in Runro, one of Metal Exploration´s exploration sites, by the local Kalanguya, Ibaloi and Ifugao. Various attempts by governor Luisa Cuaresma and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial council) to stop the renewal of expired exploration permissions and to renaturate the area have not been successful.
Instead the exploration permission was extended by former Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes (cf. Move to oust mining firms gains ground in Vizcaya, PDI, 25.10.07).
Protests in the affected areas keep on taking their toll: the executive director of the Runruno Landowner Association (RULANAS), Josie Guillao, who questioned the legitimacy of the exploration permission because of a surreptitious agreement by the local population, was arrested on October 17, 2007. Activists now have to contest an action for slander sued by Metals Exploration. The antimining-activist and coordinator of the national environment network KALIKASAN, Clemente Bautista, called the arrest of Guillao a classic example of the SLAPP- (Strategic Legal Action Against Public Participation) process (cf.kalikasan.org). This means that there are civil disputes, which are mostly filed by powerful juristic people against financially disadvantaged critics, in order to intimidate them through long and expensive legal fights and to silence them. The Allianz AG, which has its own environment foundation warning of the risk of carelessness in regards to natural resources its website, has not yet made a public statement about this situation (allianzumweltstiftung.de/stiftung/allgemein/index.html).
Credits of German banks recapitalize mining companies
The Deutsche Bank is also involved in the Philippine mining sector.
In January 2008, the Deutsche Bank granted a 40 billion US-Dollar credit to Platinum Group Metals to help support the acquisition, rehabilitation and development works at the company’s two ferronickel smelter plants (cf. Deutsche signs trade deal with Philippine mining company, Finance Asia,22.1.08).
In May 2007 a credit of 100 million US-Dollars was granted to the mining company Carmen Copper Corporation, an affiliated firm of the Philippine Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development Corp., in order to reopen the mining site of the Toledo Copper Project in Cebu (cf. Manila Standard, 29.5.07). According to unconfirmed information, the Deutsche Bank also functions as a broker for the international Swiss raw material company Xstrata. Xstrata conducts – despite the expiration of its exploration license on August 17 2007- test drillings in a gold-, silver-, and copper-mine in Tampakan/Mindanao (cf . Xstrata/Indophil – ›Expose SMI-Xstrata‘s lies of responsible mining‹, Davao Today, 6.10.07). Almost the whole water supply of Central and Southern Mindanao is dependent on five rivers located in this region, which face the imminent danger of becoming polluted by mining activities. Mountains would be ablated by open-pit mining. Here too, protests mount.
Dresdner Bank – “Not like any other bank”
So the slogan at the end of each TV-commercial from the Allianz-offshoot Dresdner Bank. And yes, it is not like any other bank indeed, that the Dresdner Bank signed the Equators Principles. Yet they still appear as financier of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company. The company is infamous in the Cordilleras for its neglect of indigenous rights, as well as environmental and health related problems. Moreover, Lepanto is well known for its massive labor legislation violations. Activists of the Save the AbraRiver Movement (abrenian.com/starm) consider Lepanto to be the main suspect in an incident that killed large numbers of fish in the municipalities association Luba in the Abra province in the year 2006.
The Teresa Gold Project of Lepanto is located in Benguet, but the Abra River passes through three provinces as far as Abra. Inhabitants along the river report a strong smell and a dark tinge to the water. Water tests, conducted on a regular basis, point to conspicuously high amounts of cyanide, plumb, quicksilver and chrome. The waste water substances, a further study found, give rise to slagging river beds and the salination of neighboring rice fields (cf. abrenian.com/starm/resources). Besides water pollution, one can also observe geological and sanitary effects. Furthermore the mining process causes ground subsidence and land slides. Moreover a medical examination, conducted in 2003, of the inhabitants of Paalaban and Batbato in Makayan, a mining site of Lepanto, shows that they are exposed regularly to mining waste waters. Coughing (48.5 percent), irritation of the nasal membrane (31.6 percent), skin irritations like rashes, itchiness or cauterization (31.6 percent), irritation of the eyes (16.5 percent) and vomiting (10.5 percent) are the symptoms most often diagnosed resulting from contact with the waste waters. Randomly obtained blood samples have shown that these people have higher concentrations of cyanide, plumb, and copper in comparison to people without contact to mining waste waters.
State project- and export funding
On June 28 2007, a commemorable meeting took place in the bank building of the KFW IPEX-Bank in Frankfurt: together with the Philippine Ambassdor Delia Domingo Albert – who at the same time is the Philippine special envoy for mining – the KFW IPEX-Bank invited more than 30 representatives from the finance, economy and science sector to promote credit grants and investments for the Philippine mining industry. Heinrich Heims, executive director of the KFW IPEX-Bank, optimistically expressed in his opening speech that the KFW IPEX-Bank, which today is already one of the biggest mining project financiers in Latin America, will also expand its activities to the Philippines (cf. philippineembassy.de). Should this be the case, the danger is looming that the investments and credit grants from Germany, which will after all be co-financed by a state-owned development bank, will not contribute to the benefit of the environment and the people.
Capital needs control
The international finance market is nontransparent and it is hard to backtrack global financial streams. Project financiers are often consortiums minimizing political risks or the risk of prize losses. They found affiliated companies with new names and shuffle enormous amounts of money from one place to another. In this way it is often difficult for German investors to reconstruct what is happening with their money. Organisations like the Dachverband der kritischen Aktionärinnen und Aktionäre (umbrella organisation of critical investors) demand a general mandatory disclosure of all relevant ecological and social data regarding each financed business project. “The banks”, they state, “must reveal each credit deal, how they examined the projects´ effects on people and the environment and on the basis of which facts they consider the credit grant responsible!” Considering the involvement of German banks in the Philippine mining sector, this requirement can only be emphasized. To put it in the words of attac, an organisation critical of globalisation: Capital must be controlled! Cases like that of the WestLB, which withdrew from a controversial mining project in Indonesia, raise hopes. It seems that the banks’ withdrawal can be ascribed to massive pressure from civil society in Germany and to the resistance by local groups in North Sulawesi (cf. http://home.snafu.de/watchin/). This pressure on the banks mentioned above, that are active in the Philippines, needs also to be put on them here in Germany.
This Article appeared in the magazine südostasien
Volume 24, Issue 1, March 2008.
Translated by Anica Hackmann.