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 1
Lately, Mr. Horacio Ramos of MGB has resorted to labeling in his defense of mining companies that go around in the guise of “responsible mining” and “sustainable development.” Failing to present facts about mining impact on Philippine environment, Mr. Ramos cites motherhoods and calls his critics “purists” as if by casting such word like a magic spell all oppositors would vanish with a wave of his wand. Allow us to respond to him and the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) point by point:
1. CMP: “The mining act has very stringent environmental protection measures and they have been complied with.”
We reply: The Mining Act became law in 1995. In 1996, the Marcopper mining disaster happened in Marinduque! The Mining Act of 1995 is favorable to mining companies and reads like it was written by them. If the Mining Act has very stringent provisions, then why are mining areas in such terrible shape? Rapu-Rapu, Aroroy, Larap, Marinduque, Mangkayan, etc are serious indictments of the “stringent” mining act.
2. CMP: “Even in the case of Rapu-Rapu, this was dealt with immediately . . . They have paid for their mistakes. Government and even civil society groups in the area monitor operations closely and do not confirm the disappearance of fish catch. This is hearsay.
We reply: These are the facts, not hearsay, about Rapu-Rapu mining. In Rapu-Rapu, five major fishkills have been noted. The Pollution Adjudication Board made Lafayette pay only for the October 2005 accidents. However, not a cent went to the people of the island. Rod Watt, the Australian manager during those spills was not penalized. He even received P16 million in salaries in 2006. The management team of Carlos Dominguez, taking over from the Australians, never improved the situation for the residents of the island. They earned over P 90 million during their stint. While Lafayette executives earn millions inside their airconditioned offices, the people of Rapu-Rapu are losing everything they need for present and future survival. The following data on their salaries are from the annual reports of Lafayette Mining Limited from 2001 to 2007 (the executives have varying periods of employment):
1. Antill, Mark, Asst. VP Mining; US$ 138,131.00; P 6,906,550.00; 1 year
2. Baker, David Lewis, Mng Dir and Chief Exec Offcr; US$ 1,197,884.00; P 55,433,075.00; 2 years
3. Benuik, VG, Asst. VP Metallurgy; US$ 115,714.00; P 5,785,700.00; 1 year
4. Campos, Marc A., Senior VP Prodn and Comrcl; US$ 179,276.00; P 8,159,970.00; 2 years
5. Culbert, Ian Edward, Executive Director; US$ 180,000.00; P 9,000,000.00; 1 year
6. Eckhof, Klaus Peter, Non-executive Director; US$ 21,600.00; P 1,080,000.00; 1 year
7. Geddes, Peter Jeffrey, Non-executive Director; US$ 30,000.00; P 1,500,000.00; 1 year
8. Gillard, Reginald Norman, Non-executive Chairman; US$ 360,759.00; P 17,731,385.00; 6 years
9. Hickman, Timothy James Bruce, Chief Financl Ofcr and Co Sec; US$ 784,008.00; P 39,200,400.00; 4 yrs
10. Mahony, David Ronayne, Executive Director/Non-ex Dir; US$ 768,837.00; P 38,441,850.00; 4 years
11. Marwood, Bradley WJ, Chief Operating Officer; US$ 177,840.00; P 8,892,000.00; 1 year
12. McIlwain, Andrew Ivor Bruce, Mng Dir and Chief Exec Offcr; US$ 1,950,138.00; P 97,506,900.00; 4 yrs
13. McMullen, Michael James, Technical Director; US$ 160,000.00; P 8,000,000.00; 1 year
14. Mitchell, James Scott, Non-executive Director; US$ 120,700.00; P 6,035,000.00; 3 years
15. Quartermaine, Jeffrey Allan, Chief Financl Ofcr and Co Sec; US$ 580,835.00; P 26,408,410.00; 2 years
16. Robinson, Kevin Peter, Non-executive Director; US$ 113,257.00; P 5,662,850.00; 3 years
17. Stevering, Michel GM, Group Finance Mgr/ Comp Sec; US$ 132,058.00; P 5,942,610.00; 1 year
18. Taylor, Paul Richard, Non-executive Director; US$ 50,582.00; P 2,529,100.00; 1 year
19. Thompson, AB, VP Operations; US$ 233,036.00; P 11,651,800.00; 1 year
20. Walker, Jurg, Non-executive Director; US$ 40,000.00; P 2,000,000.00; 2 years
21. Watt, Roderick, Country Manager – Philippines; US$ 915,172.00; P 45,758,600.00; 5 years
22. Widdup, Robin Anthony, Non-executive Director; US$ 46,250.00; P 2,150,000.00; 2 years
23. Wood, Steven C., Non-executive Director; US$ 12,630.00; P 568,350.00; 1 year
Total salaries = US$ 8,308,707.00 = P 406,344,550.00
We do not covet their money. In the first place, that money rightfully belongs to the people of Rapu-Rapu. We only lament that they have all the benefits while the people of Rapu-Rapu bear all the costs – environmental damage and loss of livelihood.
Civil society groups here from the academe, church, fisherfolks, NGOs, etc oppose the mine - Aquinas University of Legazpi, Ateneo de Naga University, Divine Word College of Legazpi, St. Agnes’ Academy, Social Action Center, Parish of Rapu-Rapu, Diocese of Legazpi, Diocese of Sorsogon, Archdiocese of Caceres, Diocese of Virac, Diocese of Libmanan, Diocese of Masbate, Diocese of Daet), the Governor of Albay, many city and municipal governments in Bicol, Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance, Pangataman Bikol, Sagip-Isla Sagip-Kapwa, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Greenpeace, Oxfam Australia, Banktrack, Development and Peace of Canada, Center for Ecological Concerns Philippines, Health Alliance for Democracy, Community Medicine Development Foundation, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, Peace for Life, Philippine Collegian, Bulatlat, AGHAM, Redemptorist Baclaran, Takaki Citizen Science Foundation of Japan, Friends of the Earth Japan, BAYAN Bikol, KMP Bikol, Ugnayan ng mga Mamamayan Laban sa Pagmimina at Kombersyong Agraryo Camarines Norte, BAYAN Camarines Sur, PAMALAKAYA Masbate, KMU Bikol, ABAKA Catanduanes, KADAMAY Bikol, Camarines Sur People’s Organization, Bikol Express Multimedia, AMLDM, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, radio stations DZGB and DWBS, etc. All the seven bishops of Bicol oppose the mine as manifested in their letter to the Pope dated December 25, 2008, after all appeals for mine closure fell on deaf ears of local and national authorities.
The fisherman around Albay Gulf (including Rapu-Rapu) and the International Solidarity Mission on May 10-13, 2009 all confirm the rapid decline in fish catch which started in 2005, the same year when Lafayette began operation.
In October 2005, July 2006, and October 2007 fishkills occurred. The Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission recommended mine closure. Lafayette Mining Limited downplayed the impact of the 2005 and 2006 fishkills and does not accept responsibility for the 2007 fishkill. The CEC, UP College of Engineering and UP NSRI detected heavy metals in sediment, fish and water samples. Lafayette boasts that they are ISO 14001 compliant but the ISO certificate does not address the four reasons for objecting to Rapu-Rapu mining: small size, steep slopes, heavy rainfall, acid mine drainage. The ISO certificate does not address Lafayette’s failure to keep its promise to pay billions in taxes and implement social development projects. The ISO Certification does not address the PEZA exemption of Lafayette from taxes on income earned from production of precious and base metals. We should also note that the ISO Certification does not solve the fishermen’s problem of diminished catch in fishing grounds near the island and their need to go far out into the Pacific Ocean facing gigantic waves using tiny boats just to pursue their livelihood. In 2006, the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission submitted its recommendations to the President. Instead of following the recommendations, then DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes gave Lafayette a “second chance” through the test runs. A perusal of the report on the test runs shows that the readings of contaminants were so high and a fishkill happened during the period of the test run, in July 2006. Yet, permission to resume full operation was granted in February 2007. Indeed, what were conducted were not test runs but “tutorial runs.” There was already a prior decision to grant permission for full operation. The “tests” were mere motions to counter the calls for mine closure. Regarding the October 2007 fishkill, an investigation was promised by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay on December 12, 2007. For more than a year now, no investigation has been done. Is this their definition of “immediately”?
Rapu-Rapu mining is nothing but large-scale environmental damage and economic injustice as the following facts show. In response to a letter from the SARA Spokesperson in 2008, the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau declared the following information:
Gold – 159.80 kg = 5636.68 oz
Silver – 488.84 kg = 17,243.03 oz
Copper conc – 8841.60 dmt
Zinc conc – 17,148.50 dmt
Taxes paid – P 36,118,555.54
The following information is from Lafayette Mining Ltd.:
Commodity price forward position as of 30 June 2006
Average US$ price – forward maturity
Gold: 405.74 / oz (< 1 year)
Silver: 5.87 / oz (< 1 year)
(reference: Interim Report for the period ending 31 December 2006 Page 14)
Commodity price forward position as of 31 December 2006
Copper: 1817.00 / tonne (1-2 years)
Zinc: 946.00 /tonne
(reference: Interim Report for the period ending 31 December 2006 Page 13)
The following are the conservative estimate of average prices of the metals from London Metal Exchange website:
Gold – US$ 550 / oz
Silver – US$ 10 / oz
Copper – US$ 50
00 / dmt
Zinc – US$ 2500 / dmt
Putting these information together, we have the following calculation using conservative hedge prices:
Gold: US$ 2,287,028.29
Silver – US$ 101,216.61
Copper – US$ 16,065,187.20
Zinc – US$ 16,222,481.00
Total = US$ 34,675,913.10
At P40 = US$, the total is P 1,387,036,523.84. The taxes paid are therefore merely 2.604%. Using LME prices:
Gold: US$ 3,100,176.37
Silver – US$ 172,430.34
Copper – US$ 44,208,000.00
Zinc – US$ 42,871,250.00
Total = US$ 87,172,028.40
At P40 = US$, the total is P 3,614,074,268.08
The taxes paid are therefore merely 0.999%. This means that Lafayette paid merely 1% in excise taxes, not to Rapu-Rapu or Albay but to the BIR.
In 2008, Lafayette earned P847 million. On inquiry from the Regional Director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region V, the Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance obtained the amount of zinc and copper extracted from Rapu-Rapu in 2008 by LPI under the management of Koreans and Malaysians:
Zinc – 3583.77 dmt
Copper – 4267.94 dmt
At US$ 1100 (zinc) and US$ 3300 (copper) per dry metric ton and exchange rate of P47 per dollar, the total income was P 185,280,909.00 (zinc) and P 661,957,494.00 (copper) for a total of P 847,238,403.00.
Then LPI boasted through a local tabloid, Mayon Times, on December 3, 2008 that it “shared the bounty with the people of Rapu-Rapu. On verification, the amount spent was P270,000 or a measly 3% of 1% of their income in 2008, a pittance in exchange for posterity and patrimony!
900 families x 10 kg/family x P30/kg = P270,000.00
Ratio: P270,000 / P847,238,403 = 0.00032 = 0.032%
The true intention was not to share the bounty but to twist people’s arm into accepting the continued operation of the mine because on the same signature sheet where the recipients acknowledged receipt of 10 kgs of rice, it is written that the rice distribution was “Sharing of Bounty by the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project for the Continued Operation of the Mine.”
All the promises of social development projects, taxes, and mine rehabilitation fund are logically to be funded from the income of Lafayette from its operation in Rapu-Rapu. It does not need a brilliant mind to realize that the company is frying the island in its own fat. Lafayette is so bold in announcing that they have reserved, for example, P157 million for mine rehabilitation. Three things are very clear: (1) that huge amount is from the natural wealth of the island which is owned, in the first place, by the residents; (2) that amount is so big while the rice that they distributed is such a pittance; (3) if Lafayette did not destroy the island, then there is no need to rehabilitate it. They wound the island, then boast that they applied bandage on it!
The situation in Rapu-Rapu Island is desperate. Hunger, disease and ecological disasters are unabated and continue to worsen day by day. Children on the Pacific side die of diarrhea and vomiting for lack of medical services. Respiratory problems are common. These cases, residents confirm, never happened with the same frequency in the past as after the start of mining operations. Fish is scarce in the waters offshore. Even “tagunason,” an edible marine organism that used to be abundant on the shorelines during low tide, is gone. They cannot bathe in the beaches because they experience skin itch and rashes. The creeks are yellowish-red, an indication of acid mine drainage, and no longer host freshwater fish. The dap-dap trees along the banks are dead. Corrals still stand but are pale and likewise dead. No fish can be seen around them. The residents estimate that 50% of the corrals near Buenavista are dead. This explains the observation that fish catch is down. The blue marlin used to be abundant in April and May and 20 could be caught in years past. This year, only 6 have been caught. For the entire island, fish catch decline is estimated at 80-90% since the mine started to operate. There is severe scarcity of drinking water. “We continue to suffer from the adverse effects of mining operation of Lafayette. Foreign mining companies have grabbed our lands, poisoned our seas and destroyed our environment. Worse, the Arroyo government, instead of helping, has abandoned us and is stubbornly forcing us to accept the destructive operation of Lafayette mining,” said Antonio Casitas, leader of the local organization Sagip-Isla Sagip-Kapwa.
3. CMP: Mining activities which are undertaken in the hinterlands have become catalysts to rural development. It is illegal and unlicensed mining that have caused destruction and we enjoin Mr. Bautista and other environmentalists to help the government catch them.”
We reply: We challenge Mr. Ramos and the CMP to name these “hinterlands” that have been catalyzed to “development.” On our part, we do not know any. The following are facts: Aroroy, Masbate has been a mining town since 1837 yet it is only a 2nd Class municipality. Masbate is the poorest province of Bicol with a poverty incidence level of 62.8% according to the NSCB survey in 2000. Paracale, Camarines Norte has been a mining town since 1939 and yet it is only a 3rd Class municipality. Camarines Norte is the second poorest province of Bicol, with a poverty incidence level of 52.7% according to the NSCB survey in 2000. Both Masbate and Camarines Norte are listed as among the country’s ten (10) poorest provinces per NSCB survey in 2000. Rapu-Rapu, Albay has been mined since the 1930’s but it is only a 4th Class municipality, the poorest in the province. In its 2000 survey, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) identified the top ten poorest provinces. Most of them are mining provinces. On the other hand, the top ten richest provinces or congressional districts are all non-mining areas. In his testimony before the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission on April 6, 2006 Heherson T. Alvarez stated that the mining communities of the Cordilleras, Canada, and Australia “have become miserable patches of poverty after the gold or the mineral ore was extracted.” What they call legal and licensed mining are those quarrying and processing operations owned by big business. Small-scale mining done by lowly entrepreneurs are “illegal and unlicensed” because they have no connections to the powerful political leaders. The destruction in Rapu-Rapu, Aroroy, Larap, Marinduque, Mangkayan, etc was caused by “legal and licensed” miners. We enjoin the government to declare how big business really operates in these devastated areas.
4. Ramos: Perlas had a “different definition of sustainable development . . . He wants a purist environment action versus (an action) with economic activity,” pointing out that this was the mindset of a politician . . . There’s no sustainable development without economic activity. We can’t live in a very pure environment but we die of starvation.
We reply: Labelling Mr. Perlas as purist does not win the argument. Mr. Ramos only reduces it to cheapness. Mr. Ramos also fails to see the environment as an important political issue. Moreover, whatever he means by “pure environment” he alone knows. On the other hand, it is clear to us that the economy cannot prosper if the environment is destroyed. All the inputs of production come from the environment. Distribution and consumption, as the other two basic economic activities, presuppose the preservation of the environment. Otherwise, how will goods be transported to reach the consumer if there is no sustainable source of energy, roads and railways whose design conform to ecological requisites? No one will consume the goods if people are stricken by disease in a polluted environment. Al Gore says it so well in “An Inconvenient Truth.” If we don’t have a planet, gold bars are worthless.
5. Ramos: “The Arroyo administration had to take the middle ground between the purists and those pushing the mining industry from an “economic point of view . . . There’s the extreme left and the extreme right. Government has to take the middle ground... We have obligations to the Filipino people which have to be done in a very responsible way.”
We reply: We do not see the Arroyo administration in the middle ground. Perhaps Mr. Ramos means “muddled ground.” As taxpayers, we see the Arroyo administration on the extreme side of big business. Rapu-Rapu mining, Arroyo’s flagship, is a clear case showing where this administration stands – with Lafayette. Otherwise, the people of the island would not have suffered from increasing hunger and poverty.
6. Ramos: Since the 1996 Marcopper mining disaster, the government and the mining industry had taken steps to prevent a repeat of this catastrophe.
We reply: The Mining Act of 1995 became law a year before the Marcopper disaster in 1996. That law never prevented the tragedy in Marinduque. The Mining Act of 1995 is useless in restoring the original condition of that island province. As of March 2009, “The people of Marinduque continue to suffer the destructive effects of mining in their province even as justice continues to elude them. The Marinduque case demonstrates our government’s failure to protect its citizens from large scale mining companies (that) violate our laws and environmental safety standards with impunity.” (Ronald Gregorio of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center in a statement to the Mindanao Examiner) Where is the Mining Act of 1995? Until today, Barrick Gold Corporation which bought Placer Dome cannot be made accountable for its irresponsibility. Indeed, how can a Philippine law be used against a juridical person outside the country? Yet, it is this same law that provided lavish benefits to Placer Dome and other mining companies. If a repeat of Marcopper is to be avoided, we must scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and replace it with a People’s Mining Policy.
7. Ramos: Both the government and mining companies had set in place business models that “balance and integrate economic, social, and environment objectives that aim for sustainable development and not just mining at all cost.”
We reply: This is a motherhood statement that has been observed more in the breach. There are no facts to substantiate this as well as other statements of Mr. Ramos.
8. Ramos: The DENR had also put in place a 24/7 monitoring on all mining activities.
We reply: This is not true. In Rapu-Rapu, the residents learned of the toxic spills long before DENR personnel did. Not even the Multi-partite Monitoring Team took the lead in reporting the spills. Instead, it kept quiet until the damage could no longer be hidden from the public.
9. Ramos: Aside from the environmental compliance certificate, the DENR also required mining companies to rehabilitate mine areas as well as follow a clearly defined final land use.
We reply: This is another motherhood statement. When mining companies are done, they just pack up and leave the clean up to the next mine owner or the government. This is what Lafayette Mining Limited did in Rapu-Rapu. This is what Placer Dome, the mother company of Marcopper Corporation, did in Marinduque. Today, Kores, LGI and MSC would not take responsibility for the mistakes of Lafayette Mining Limited. Barrick Gold Corporation which bought Placer Dome does not accept responsibility for the Marcopper disaster. It has been observed that mining companies would do a “rigodon” in order to escape from their responsibilities.
10. Ramos: The $2.1-billion mining industry has an existing 600,000 direct and indirect employment. By 2013, it is projected that the industry would be worth $13 billion.
We reply: This figure is out of the blue and has no evidence to back it up. In Rapu-Rapu, the mining company under the Koreans and Malaysians distributed rice to 900 families at 10 kgs per family. Their income in 2008 was P847 million. Simple arithmetic shows that at P30 per kg, Lafayette doled out a mere 3% of 1% of their income! They claim to employ 875 workers. The fishermen suffering from loss of livelihood due to the sudden decline in fish catch since 2005 are around 14,000. The company prospects to earn $1.54 billion. The wages and social development projects it promised to give amount to just around ½ of 1% (0.594%). In exchange, the people of Rapu-Rapu will lose 100% of their island. Lafayette invested $40 million. This means that for every dollar put in, Lafayette targets to gain $38.5! The gain of $37.5 comes from the sweat of lowly paid workers and the minerals extracted from our land. The Philippine government and the CMP allows this because of their junior partnership with foreign investors.
11. CMP: The industry was only given impetus by the government in late 2003 and it was only in 2005 when the Supreme Court finally resolved and affirmed the constitutionality of the Mining Act when the industry was resurrected.
We reply: The Mining Act was first declared unconstitutional. We can only surmise how it came to be constitutional later. With the resurrection of the mining industry came the death of agriculture in mining areas. Our food supply was diminished. We do not have to argue about the constitutionality of our diminished food supply!