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.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
SARA refutes RRMI allegations Part 1
Mr. Roger Corpus: Allegations against the project are baseless, speculative and in no way supported by facts or evidence.
Mr. Corpus speaks about Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc., the company responsible for the blasting and quarrying of ores. It operates the open pit. Open pits are contributors to climate change as Al Gore cites in “An Inconvenient Truth.” RRMI cannot wash its hands of the responsibility for the siltation of creeks and the surrounding seawater. Silt clogs the gills of fish and kills them. Silt also kills corrals, the habitat of fish. When corrals die, the fish dependent on them are deprived of food and shelter.
Mr. Corpus cannot speak for Rapu-Rapu Processing, Inc., the company responsible for the use of chemicals used to treat the ores so that the metals can be extracted. He does not defend the processing company against the charges of spills. In fact, the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) slapped RRPI with more than P10 million in fines for violation of the Clean Water Act. The report of the Technical Working Group formed after the October 2005 toxic spills shows exceedingly high values of heavy metals yet the company was allowed to resume operations.
Corpus: Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic is continuously strengthening measures to safeguard the people of Rapu-Rapu Island and their environment.“The project can only be successful if we protect local residents and the environment for the long term.”
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Under the Koreans and Malaysians, Lafayette Philippines, Inc., which owns RRMI and RRPI, bears responsibility for the lapses of the Australian Lafayette Mining Limited. The rapid decline in fish catch commencing in 2005 is evidence of the culpability of the mining companies which started their quarrying and processing operations also in 2005. Korea Resources Corporation and LG International Corporation were minority shareholders during the watch of the Australians. Therefore, they also bear responsibility for the toxic spills in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Mr. Corpus has been with Lafayette since 2002. He is also responsible for the lapses.
Nowadays, it is said that there will no longer be any fishkill with the Koreans and Malaysians in charge. That is so because there are no more fish to kill. Continuously, everyday, silt, heavy metals and acid flow through the creeks to the sea. No control measure under the new management has stopped the pollution.
Corpus: If the project were to have any adverse impact on people’s health, the 875 personnel at the mine and processing plant would be affected first before nearby residents, but there has been no such health impact from the Rapu-Rapu operations.
This argument of Mr. Corpus is very similar to that of Atty. Julito Sarmiento in 2006 that if Lafayette poisoned the sea, then his relatives in Legazpi would also be "matitigbak" (killed). As events unfolded in 2007 people who ate fish arund Rapu-Rapu got sick while the relatives of Atty. Sarmiento would not dare eat fish from the same area!
There are over 14,000 fishermen who have lost their incomes because of the pollution of the sea around Rapu-Rapu. The alleged 875 workers are well oriented on the exact location of danger. They are protected by helmets, garments and other devices. On the other hand, the people of Rapu-Rapu are bare against the contaminants that pass through their areas of work and residence. Workers of Lafayette do not earn their living by fishing in the sea around the island. The fishermen of Rapu-rapu are the ones exposed to the contaminants that have scattered in the former fishing grounds.
Corpus: The mine’s tailings storage facility (TSF) has been strengthened and developed further to a capacity of 1.4 million cubic meters, of which 540,000 cubic meters are currently available.
The pertinent ECC requirement is stated in condition number 23:
The tailings dam with an impounding capacity of five million (5,000,000) metric tons of tailings produced over the mine operations must be constructed strictly in accordance with its design criteria and largely from waste rocks excavated from the open pit. It must be provided with sufficient freeboard and spillway capacity to ensure that it can withstand the maximum probable storm event. Its outer slope must be stabilized and protected against progressive erosion.
Five million metric tons over the mine life of 8 years (2005-13) would mean that by 2009, Lafayette ought to have developed a TSF for 2.5 million metric tons. The figure cited by Mr. Corpus of 1.4 million is in cubic meters. Mr. Corpus has to reconcile his figure with the ECC condition.
Regardless of the dam capacity, the diagram submitted by Lafayette to the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission in 2006 shows that waste water is “treated” then discharged to the sea. Any claim of high capacity of a TSF is immaterial if the waste water discharged is not actually clean like what happened in 2005, 2006 and 2007 when major fishkills happened. The photographs shown on this website give the reader a good look into the quality of water that flows from Lafayette’s detoxification system. The mining company says anyone may visit the mine site and see for himself. The catch is that such a visit has to be pre-arranged. No surprise visit is allowed. Why? Obviously, the mining company wants sufficient time to clean up the area before any visitor arrives. This was the experience of the team of Dr. Emelina Regis of INECAR in November 2007. They were held up in the office for an hour and when they were summoned to be guided to the target spot, Dr. Regis saw white marks on the soles of the worker's boots indicating that he stepped on acidic substance. Moreover, any ocular inspection by an outsider is to be guided within restricted areas. A visitor cannot go anywhere he pleases.
Corpus: The TSF embankment is designed with technical specifications to properly contain tailings, including an impermeable clay section to prevent penetration by stored tailings and tailings water.
Dr. Carlito Barril, retired professor from UP Los Baños, attests that Lafayette committed a major mistake when it used potentially acid forming (PAF) rocks as dam material. Dr. Barril emphasizes that this mistake alone is enough reason to close the mine! Such blunder by Lafayette is terrible because the dam, instead of preventing poison from going to the surroundings, by itself when rained upon produces acid which flows to the surroundings. The analogy is that of a person required to wear clothes because it is cold. Yet, the apparel given to him is wet.
Corpus: The tailings are kept underwater to render them inactive. While best practice calls for a cover of two meters of water, the TSF now has a depth of 10 meters of water covering the tailings.
According to the Chemistry Department of Aquinas University of Legazpi, mine tailings when immersed in water will still produce a toxic solution. Such toxic solution cannot be covered with water if the intention is to prevent the evaporation or spillage of toxic solutes. Even common sense would tell a layman that a glass of water in which a solid poison is immersed and toxic solute is dissolved cannot be contained by pouring more water into the same glass. The poisonous solution will just mix with the added water, the solid poison will just emit more poisonous solute and the whole glass will still contain poison.
Corpus: In the event of any overflows during heavy rains, the spillway from the TSF has been lined with concrete to prevent soil erosion that may cause turbidity in the run-off. The spillway is linked to the environmental ponds to ensure the company’s compliance with standards set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for water quality, which is constantly monitored.
The danger during heavy rains primarily comes from the overflow of poisonous liquid from the tailings storage facility (TSF). This liquid alone will destroy the creeks and the sea. In like manner, poison made to flow through gold-plated tube will still destroy whatever organism comes in contact with the liquid.
The evidence that silt still flows to the sea (despite the claim by Corpus that “the spillway from the TSF has been lined with concrete to prevent soil erosion that may cause turbidity in the run-off”) is the brown-yellow-red-orange color of runoff water in creeks and near their mouths.
Without the mine, runoff water will minimally cause silt to flow because of vegetation cover. With the mine, increasingly large areas become bare and exposed to rain so that more silt and acid are released to the sea. The claim of constant monitoring is baseless because this is not verifiable considering that no third-party inspector or visitor will stay on the site 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Nobody can verify this claim of Mr. Corpus.
Corpus: Environmental monitoring is integral to its operations, including continuous monitoring of water quality covering an extensive area within and outside the project site.
This is a motherhood statement that can never be verified because they do not allow unannounced visits. As previously mentioned, nobody external to the mining companies will ever stay on the island to check such claim 24/7.
Corpus: The project’s approved Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program specifies a total of 26 water-quality monitoring stations. On its own initiative and as the project develops, Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic has established additional monitoring stations to cover a much bigger area, so there are now 37 stations.
Regardless of the number of water monitoring stations, the sudden drop in fish catch starting in 2005 is evidence of severe pollution. When the toxic spills of 2005 were being investigated Lafayette already claimed the same number of monitoring stations. Yet, the 2006 and 2007 fishkills happened. This time, Mr. Corpus still cites the same number of monitoring stations. It is said that there will no longer be any fishkill because there are no more fish to kill, with contaminants flowing daily through the creeks and to the sea.
Corpus: Since July, 2008, the new shareholders of the company have deposited P50 million in an escrow fund for its Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Plan (FMRDP). Corpus said the advance deposit is the first ever to be made by any mining operation in the country before approval of its FMRDP. When the plan is approved, regular deposits into the fund will continue on a stipulated schedule. The fund will cover the costs of rehabilitating the site and decommissioning the mine at the end of extraction operations.
The mine rehabilitation fund will not make up for lost income of the people as it is intended for clean up. It will take a long time after mining is stopped and cleanup begins for the sea to recover. Continued operation of the mine only delays the recovery of the island and its surrounding sea. Lafayette boasts of P50 million deposited in the bank for mine rehabilitation but according to Mr. Christopher Flores, the mediator between the Koreans and some “Filipino authorities,” the new owners are not willing to increase the benefits they provide to the people of Rapu-Rapu; that is, 3% of 1% is all they are willing to share!
Corpus: Safeguarding the people and the environment is a priority which we are actively pursuing.
This is another typical Lafayette motherhood which is “baseless, speculative and in no way supported by facts or evidence.”
Corpus: The project has successfully passed the surveillance audits for its ISO 14001 certifications for environmental management systems. The ISO 14001 certifications signify that the environmental management systems of Rapu-Rapu adhere to globally recognized standards, and that the project is environmentally compliant.
Again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The zero fish catch in the sea (where fishermen used to obtain 50 bañeras before mining started) strongly belies any claim of compliance and only puts the ISO certification in question. The ISO certification can never justify the large income of Lafayette against the meager benefits and heavy costs reaped by the people of Rapu-Rapu. We have rebutted this allusion to ISO. We have said:
The Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance refutes the relevance of this certification to the fundamental reasons why mining in the island cannot be responsible and the three factors that make current mining operations in the island a threat to sustainable development.
The ISO Certification does not address the island’s small size which makes the management of tailings possible only through hollow promises. The tailings ponds are still only a few meters from the sea and any accident will readily spill poison into fishing grounds.
The ISO Certification does not address the heavy rainfall in our locality which would lead to the scattering of heavy metals and cyanide and the death of marine life and destruction of the fishing industry.
The ISO Certification does not address the steep slopes of the hills which will engender the speedy flow of poisonous chemicals to rivers, farms and ultimately the sea.
The ISO Certification does not address the presence of sulfide rocks which are being exposed to air and water thus forming acid that will also kill plants and animals on land and in the sea.
The ISO Certification does not address the use of cyanide which by experience has been shown to be prone to spills that cause fishkills, kill the plankton that consume carbon dioxide or evaporate to form carbon and nitrogen compounds that directly contribute to global warming. The ISO Certification does not absolve Lafayette from the confirmed fishkills on October 11 and 31, 2005; July 20, 2006; and October 24-29, 2007.
The ISO Certification does not address the use of the open pit technology which removes the topsoil and renders the land unarable for decades and reduce the population of plants that also consume carbon dioxide.
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.
We should also note that the ISO Certification does not cure the diseases related to heavy metal contamination suffered by residents of Rapu-Rapu and coastal towns of Sorsogon.
The ISO Certification is only for the needs of Lafayette. It is never for us.
Remembering all these is enough to make anyone realize that the ISO certification obtained allegedly by Lafayette is nothing but another attempt at what the company does best: to hide the truth about its evil design for Rapu-Rapu.
(Please see continuation.)