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.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Pure lip service for environmental protection by DENR, MGB and CMP Part 2
We reply: With only 2% of income to be paid as taxes required under the law, with 8 years of tax holiday, with damaged environment, with diminished fish catch, it is hard to see how the CMP could claim such “substantial contributions to the economy.” They are more credible if they say mining contributed substantially to their incomes.
Mining companies have devious ways to diminish their contributions to the economy. Look at the corporate structure of Lafayette in Rapu-Rapu. Even the DENR is confused.
The (Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding) Commission reported that there is a confusing corporate set-up, that is, that there are at least two corporate entities (RRMI and RRPI) holding mining-related permits and operating inside the Rapu- Rapu Island.
Upon closer scrutiny of the existing records of these companies, the DENR agrees with this finding. (Please see previous blogs.)
Reference: DENR Assessment of the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project, 2006; p.23
How are RRMI and RRPI related? They are the two “hands” of Lafayette Philippines, Inc. RRMI digs the ground for ores and “sells” them to RRPI which in turn crushes the ores and extracts the metals by using cyanide and sulfuric acid. In effect, the left hand “sells” to the right hand. LPI owns 100% of RRPI and 64% of RRMI. The remaining 36% of RRMI is owned by a law firm called Fortun Narvasa Salazar Creenola. LPI is owned by three foreign companies: Korea Resources Corporation (Kores), 26%; LG International Corporation (LGI), 44%; and Malaysia Smelting Corporation (MSC), 30%. Neither RRMI or RRPI is owned by Filipinos.
Reference: DENR Assessment of the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project, 2006; p. 27
The tax incentives provided to mining companies further reduce their contribution to the economy. Rapu-Rapu, again, is an example. The total cost of social development and livelihood program of Lafayette was made attractive to the people of Rapu-Rapu and even the entire Bicol Region with promises made through a press release titled “Simbag kan Lafayette Philippines, Inc. (LPI) sa mga Isyus Unong sa Operasyon Kaini sa Banwaan kan Rapu-Rapu” (Response of LPI on Issues About its Operation in the Town of Rapu-Rapu) in the Albayano Examiner in its November 19-25, 1999 issue, among which was the payment of taxes to the local government unit.
In a sudden and treacherous turnaround, Lafayette reneged on its promise to pay taxes. The company applied for exemption from local taxes under the government’s PEZA program. It went through a dubious process as the documents show. (Please see previous blogs.)
Lafayette is not even among the top ten (10) tax paying corporations in the Bicol Region as a letter from the BIR Regional Office V dated February 18, 2008 proves.
When Lafayette Mining Limited studied the feasibility of Rapu-Rapu mining, it obtained information on the total amount of metal in the Ungay and Hixbar deposits as presented on its website:
Copper – 103,885 tons
Zinc – 161,724 tons
Gold – 718,245 oz
Silver – 7,028,797 oz
In its quarterly reports Lafayette quoted the prices of the metals it mines in Rapu-Rapu. In the Lafayette Quarterly Report for the period ending March 31, 2007 page 6 it is stated that:
“During the quarter, the average LME copper price was US$ 5,965 per tonne while the average LME zinc price was US$ 3,458 per tonne. Precious metal prices were US$ 649.41 per ounce for gold and US$ 13.26 per ounce for silver.”
In the Lafayette Annual Report for the Period Ended June 30, 2007 page 5 it is stated that:
“During the quarter, the average LME copper price was US$ 7,636 per tonne while the average LME zinc price was US$ 3,666 per tonne. Precious metal prices were US$ 666.84 per ounce for gold and US$ 13.33 per ounce for silver.”
There is sufficient reason to project that these prices will continue to prevail. Owing to the great demand for metals in China over the next years, it is reasonable to expect that the prices would remain close to the higher values shown in the graphs. (http://www.lionselection.com.au/investors_centre/documents/aus_ar/AR-2006.pdf; January 19, 2008)
Nevertheless let us temper our estimation by choosing relatively lower prices as shown below:
Copper – US$ 6,000 / ton
Zinc – US$ 2,000 / ton
Gold – US$ 700 / oz
Silver – US$ 13 / oz
If we multiply the total deposit by the unit prices, we can compute the total amount that Lafayette prospects to haul:
Copper – US$ 6,000 / ton x 103,885 tons = US$ 623,310,000
Zinc – US$ 2,000 / ton x 161,724 tons = US$ 323,448,000
Gold – US$ 700 / oz x 718,245 oz = US$ 502,771,500
Silver – US$ 13 / oz x 7,028,797 oz = US$ 91,374,361
Total = US$ 1,540,903,861 x PhP 40 / US$ = P 61,636,154,440
With P 61,636,154,440 one can spend P 1M every day and will use up the amount in 169 years – the same period from the Mayon eruption that buried Cagsawa in 1814 . . . to the Aquino assassination in 1983 !
Or one can buy 61,636 boats worth P 1M each. If the width of each boat is 4 meters, then they can be lined up widthwise from Rapu-Rapu Pier 45 kms to Legazpi Port in 5 rows and still have an excess of 5,400 boats!
One may buy cars worth P1M each and line up 61,636 of them sideways from Legazpi 90 kms to Naga and still have an excess of 1,636 cars lined over 2.45 kms.
How much does Lafayette promise to give back to Rapu-Rapu? On May 9, 2007 during a conference of Pollution Control Officers in Casablanca Hotel in Legazpi City Lafayette’s Community Relations Department through Mr. Roy Cervantes, showed their plans for social development and actual employment. A close look reveals that several items had been planned for 2006 but as of May 9, 2007 P4,276,000 remained unaccomplished and only P2,244,688 were reported as accomplished.
It shows that even in Lafayette documents the total worth of alleged accomplished projects is only 34% while the unaccomplished is 66%.
In their Powerpoint presentation dated March 22, 2006, Lafayette promised P 10,246,060 in social development projects for Rapu-Rapu, P1M for Legazpi and P1.5M for Sorsogon. A day later, another presentation was prepared allotting only P 9,246,060 to the town.
Still, even the 34% implied as accomplished are refuted by the residents of Rapu-Rapu. In other words, they themselves say that Lafayette’s SDMP is a sham.
In the forum where these promises were presented, the Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance (SARA) Spokesperson took the floor and informed the presentor that according to the Parish Priest of Rapu-Rapu via text messaging, there was no goat-raising in Tinopan. He replied, “Ah, oo, wala pa kasi parating pa lang!”
Recall that in the press release printed in the Albayano Examiner on November 19-25, 1999 this project had been promised. After eight years, the goats are “parating pa lang.”
It should be reiterated that the data used in these comparisons are all from the Lafayette website (http://www.lafayettemining.com/) and the company’s Community Relations Department. We assume that Lafayette’s rosy promises are true.
On November 10, 2007 the SARA Spokesperson showed to Rapu-Rapu residents the plan presented by Mr. Roy Cervantes on May 9, 2007. To each of the items, they responded with a loud cry “Buwa!”, their word for “Lie!”
On December 12, 2007 Joshua Martinez of DZLG Bombo Radyo Legazpi reported that the local government of Rapu-Rapu had asked Lafayette when the latter would fulfill its promised prjects under the Social Development Management Plan. It appears, therefore, that the mining company has not acted on the plan. It can be argued that the SDMP amounts to NEAR ZERO. Let us compute the total amount of the projects promised since 2000:
2000-05 Social Development Management Plan
Infrastructure - 6,240,463
Livelihood - 128,944
Health and Sanitation - 1,702,000
Education - 705,100
Capability Building - 114,365
Socio-cultural - 40,000
Total - 8,930,872
2007 Social Development Management Plan (Core Budget)
Socio-econ infra - 6,691,740
Education and training - 3,609,000
Health and sanitation - 3,350,000
Food security, employment and livelihood - 2,446,760
Capacity-building - 1,564,500
Socio-cultural assistance - 338,000
Power supply for 3 brgys - 2,400,000
Water supply for 3 brgys - 500,000
Total - 20,900,000
2007 Social Development Management Plan (Supplemental Budget)
Socio-econ infra - 5,000,000
Marine turtle conservation project - 500,000
Legazpi City/Albay community development assistance - 2,069,000
Total - 7,569,000
2000-13 Social Development Management Plan
2000-05 - 8,930,872
2006 - 9,420,688
2007 - 28,469,000
Assume that for the rest of the mine life the yearly SDMP budget would be the same as that for the entire province of Albay for 2007. Assume further that Lafayette will appropriate for 2008 to 2013 the same amount as for 2007. This is being generous to Lafayette and these assumptions are very optimistic. Information from MGB V submitted to the RRFFC cites a much lower SDMP budget for the entire mine life- P31,300,000.00
2008 - 28,469,000
2009 - 28,469,000
2010 - 28,469,000
2011 - 28,469,000
2012 - 28,469,000
2013 - 28,469,000
Total - 217,634,560
In a press release titled “Simbag kan Lafayette Philippines, Inc. (LPI) sa mga Isyus Unong sa Operasyon Kaini sa Banwaan kan Rapu-Rapu” printed in the Albayano Examiner November 19-25, 1999, the following were promised:
SDMP: P 7,000,000
Employment: 350 persons
In the Powerpoint Presentation titled “Ang Proyekto sa Rapu-Rapu” dated October 27, 2001, they promised:
Taxes: P 328,000,000
Employment: 1000 first year; 416 during normal operation
Monitoring and rehabilitation fund: P5,050,000
In the Powerpoint Presentation titled “Social Development Management Plan 2006” they promised P 9,246,060
In the Powerpoint Presentation to Pollution Control Officers on May 9, 2007 in Casablanca Hotel, Legazpi City, they reported that from 2001 to 2005 they spent P 8,930,872 for SDMP; that in 2006 they spent P2,244,688 for SDMP and employed 131 persons. No taxes were reported as paid because by then they had acquired PEZA privileges. In the same Powerpoint presentation they promised P 9,246,060 in 2006 and P 30,969,000 in 2007 for SDMP.
In its 2001 presentation, Lafayette promised 416 jobs. In its 2007 presentation, the company reported only 131 from Rapu-Rapu and 65 from the rest of Albay province (total 196). Mr. Carlos Dominguez would claim “thousands”; that Lafayette is the “number one employer in Bicol.” A letter from DOLE Region V dated March 9, 2009 shows that Lafayette was not even among the top ten employers in Bicol Region where the National Power Corporation with 486 employees is number one, followed by the University of St. Anthony in Iriga with 436. Tenth in rank is Bicol Hair Export Corporation in Legazpi City with 195.
Assuming that the promises would be fulfilled and the budget for 2007 would be continued until 2013, let us compute the amount of benefits for Albay.
Total employees from Albay = 196
Average monthly salary/month = P 8000.00
Total salary exp/month = P 1,568,000.00
Total salary exp/year = P 18,816,000.00
Total salary exp for 8 years = P 150,528,000.00
Total expense for SDMP = P 217,634,560.00
Total exp for SDMP and salaries = P 368,162,560.00
Let us compute the benefit-cost ratio:
Total expense for SDMP = P 368,162,560.00
Total Lafayette income = P 61,636,154,440.00
Expense as fraction of income = P 368,162,560 / P 61,636,154,440
= 0.597 %
Note that this is less than 1%.
The total cost for residents. - Being given a minuscule 0.597% is not all. The worse part is that Rapu-Rapu will lose everything. Gaining ½ of 1% of benefits while losing 100% in costs is hardly our idea of “substantial contributions to the economy.”
13. CMP: “The prospective entry of San Miguel Corp. into the industry as well as First Pacific indicates that the relatively untapped mining sector holds a lot of promise. With 7.1 billion tons of metallic minerals and 51 billion tons of nonmetallic minerals waiting to be unearthed, downstream processing and manufacturing remains an area of immense potential.”
We reply: With the entry of more companies into mining, the risk of environmental degradation is so great because big business can dictate to government functionaries. In Albay, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan declared in October 2008 that the board was helpless because the resumption of Lafayette’s operation was already approved on the national level. There will be “development” only for big business but not for the lowly Filipino!
14. CMP: “Mr. Perlas said civil society groups are not against mining per se but are against foreign investors investing venture capital in the industry. We’d like to believe this but what they say and do all point against the development of the mining industry.”
We reply: Foreign investment, as a driver of local progress is a farce. Again, Rapu-Rapu mining, the flagship of the Arroyo administration, is a concrete example. A foreign investor would not bring in one dollar and leave with 50 cents. What is logical and makes business sense is that he brings in one dollar and leaves with two or more. The increase in his money comes from the labor of our people and our natural resources, which ought to be reserved for Filipinos. With foreign investors enjoying tax reduction and holidays, the government coffers do not benefit much. Officials allow this to happen because they benefit as junior partners of foreign investors. They do not mind if foreigners get so much. They do not mind if millions of their own people partake of the very little that remains. What they do mind is the share they receive.
15. CMP: “They want government to recognize local resolutions on mining bans and moratorium against mining even if these are contrary to national laws and policies. We will salute them if they can stop illegal logging, illegal fishing and illegal mining operations.
We reply: The national laws they speak of were written by their friends in the legislature. The illegal logging they speak of are mostly done by friends of big business. The illegal fishing they talk about is a problem even environmentalists contend with. However, the magnitude of the impact of “legal” mining on fishing grounds is so much greater and should be addressed with higher priority. Mr. Ramos and the CMP must not unduly distort the impact of “illegal fishing” compared to that of so called legal big business. Even legal loggers destroy the environment. Legal in this sense means having patrons in the branches and agencies of government who protect them.
16. CMP: “If these environmentalists are keen in monitoring environmental concerns, they should have at least mentioned about the environmental laws that have been passed, proclamations on biodiversity and protected areas and other environmental protection measures. What are needed are facts to show how this administration has balanced economics and environmental concerns.”
We reply: The laws and proclamations are one thing. Implementation is another. The reality in the Philippines is that those in high places can work around the law and proclamations. We have all the “facts to show how this administration has balanced economics and environmental concerns.” These facts are about environmental destruction in Rapu-Rapu, Aroroy, Larap, Marinduque, Mangkayan, etc. and economic injustice to the local residents.
17. CMP: “Constructive criticisms are good when alternatives or options are being offered. Sad to say, in this case, no alternatives were offered.”
We reply: Alternatives have been offered but not within the confines of their idea of mining as the vehicle of economic growth. We have to keenly ascertain whether mining in a specific area will really yield development as viewed by the people (improved chances of access to food, clothing, shelter, livelihood, education, security and recreation). The premise that mining results in development in a place has to be studied. If that basic premise is faulty, then we ought to go somewhere else to mine while other industries such as agriculture, transportation, energy, etc. should be promoted in that area. In Rapu-Rapu, the basic question is not how to mine the island. The basic question is how to develop the place and mining has been proven to be not a feasible option from the point of view of the local residents. The islanders have only one island. The miners have many other places to do their trade.
Sad to say, Mr. Ramos and the CMP only think of development in terms of trickle-down economics much like the crumbs that fall on Lazarus from the table of Dives. While they can partner with foreign investors and are happy with a small share of the wealth from exploitation of our natural resources, millions of our own people have to partake of the tiny bits of their leftover otherwise called “development.”
Here, then, is the pure truth and nothing but the truth about mining in the Philippines. In our opinion, Mr. Ramos and the CMP are describing themselves when they use the word “purist.” They are doing pure lip service to “responsible mining” and “sustainable development.” We can cut the debate short. We challenge all defenders of the Mining Act of 1995, of Rapu-Rapu mining, and all their apologists to take a weekly swim in the mouths of the creeks of Rapu-Rapu where Lafayette discharges its “treated” waste water and to eat fish if they can catch one in the area. If they can do it in a month without fear of contamination or actual health effects, then we will rest our case. If they cannot do that then they ought to stop the labeling, stop mouthing pure motherhoods altogether, close certain mines specially Rapu-Rapu, pay for the damages, clean up and take off.
July 29, 2009