New mining eo revitalizing the palawan campaign against mining august 2012 final version


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New mining eo revitalizing the palawan campaign against mining august 2012 final version

  1. 1. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign againstminingAugust 2012“The struggle to save Palawan, the Philippines’ Last Frontier, is not only about saving trees and rarespecies. It is also about nourishing the Filipino cultural heritage, so powerfully represented byindigenous communities that continue to represent the ‘living roots’ from which all Filipinos originate.Therefore environmental plundering by mining companies is not only a crime against nature but alsoa crime against culture, a sort of genocide that annihilates the most profound roots of the Filipino’shistory and ultimately plunders the cultural heritage of the whole nation.” –Ancestral Land DomainWatch (ALDAW)IntroductionA first read of the new mining executive order cheered up communities and advocates campaigningfor the protection of the province of Palawan against large scale mining operations. PresidentBenigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino, III, signed Executive Order No. 79 series of 2012 last July 6i.However, despite gains for the Palawan campaign, it remains to be a policy found to be inadequatein addressing the concerns of mining-affected communities, specifically the indigenous peoples.Palaweños awaited the new mining policy despite the presence of the 20-year old StrategicEnvironmental Plan for Palawan Act (SEP Law a.k.a. Republic Act No. 7611) establishing theenvironmentally critical areas network which establishes all natural forests of Palawan as core zones(or areas of maximum protection). The law was passed to bring about a framework of developmentfor the province that supports and promotes its sustainable development. (See box article)The Last Frontier of the Philippines is also endowed with mineral resources, including gold, nickel,copper, cobalt, chromite and even mercury. It has been commercially mined since the 1970s.Since the mid-nineties, civil society groups in Palawan led by the Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI),have consistently opposed government’s approval and endorsements of large and small-scale miningapplications owing to the threats posed to Palawan’s biodiversity, cultural heritage and communitylivelihoods. PNNI’s vigorous opposition of the proposed cement plant in Espanola in 1997 led toDENR’s rejection of the proponent’s application for an environmental compliance certificate. As of2008, PNNI has identified some 354 mining applications covering the whole Palawan (based on datafrom the Mines and Geosciences Bureau). In 2011, the Palawan Council for SustainableDevelopment (PCSD) claimed that some 429 mining applications exist.In 2010, ALDAW, a local network of indigenous peoples struggling for the protection of theirancestral lands against large-scale corporation, confirmed through geo-taggingii that the provinceand its biodiversity are under threat due to the encroachment of most of the pending 354 miningtenements in almost 50% of its total land area, covering forest ranges of Mt. Bulanjao which is aproposed watershed area and falls under ‘core zones’iii which should not be open to anydevelopment activity, and 90% of ancestral lands. Thereafter, ALDAW launched a signaturecampaign signed by more than twenty thousand petitioners from all over the world to stop mining inthe forests of Palawan. However, the government did not hear this call.It is important to note that deep concerns over the future of Palawan have also been raised by well-recognized international institutions, and yet the Aquino administration have remained silent onthese. On February 2, 2011, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) DirectorGeneral wrote a personal letter to the President, expressing his concern for the murder of Doc. GerryOrtega and for the threats that mining poses to Palawan fragile ecology. Two weeks later, onFebruary 18, following a massive letter campaign organized by ALDAW with the Support of RainforestPrepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 1
  2. 2. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign againstminingAugust 2012Rescue, the UNESCO was asked to take immediate actions for the protection of its declared Palawan“Man and Biospehere Reserves”. As a result, The UNESCO General Director, Irina Bokowa, formallyforwarded a letter of concern on the mining threats in Palawan to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,Chairman of the National Commission of the Philippines for UNESCO. A little later Bokowa also metPresident Aquino in Manila, and the Palawan case was again discussed.It was after the killing of environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega in January 24 last yearthat Palaweños rage against mining fired up. The people went to the streets after the violent killingof the critique who opposed mining and exposed bribery in the government in the endorsement ofmining projects. A week after the killing, ABS-CBN Bantay Kalikasan launched the Save PalawanMovement and a 10-million signature campaign to stop mining in Palawan, in key biodiversity areas,agricultural lands and ecotourism areas.To date, the petition has gathered 6,853,574 signatures already. 278,211 signatures represent 52% ofthe total voting population of the whole Palawan. In Puerto Princesa City, 88% of the total votingpopulation signed the petitions, while more signatures were from municipalities affected by mining, Box article: Palawan as an island ecosystem Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines with a total land area is 1,489,655 hectares; 690,000 hectares of which are terrestrial forest and 44,500 hectares are mangrove forests. Palawan is composed of a long main island lying in a northeast to southwest axis and surrounding it are clusters of lesser islands, amounting to more or less 1600 small islands. The main island has a tall steep mountain spine running down its length fringed by narrow coastal plans protected from storm waves by fringing coral reefs and mangrove swamps. Although seemingly lush and bountiful, the environment of Palawan is fragile and its top soils are relatively thin, poor and prone to erosion. The narrow shape of the mainland and the smallness of surrounding islands will mean that erosion on the upper slopes will immediately and directly silt the coastal areas. Source: SEP Law90% of voters in Aborlan, 90% Brooke’s Point, and 79% Narra, respectively.The No To Mining in Palawan campaign has brought the Filipinos attention to the impacts of miningto the country’s environment and natural resources. Through ABS-CBN and other media groups, theadvocacy on mining has reached a milestone. The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines wasconstrained to meet with anti-mining groups head-on in various fora and debates on mining.ivIn November 2011, President Aquino instructed members of his cabinet to conduct a review of thePhilippine mining policy. After several months of consultations, and a number of drafts, the executivePrepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 2
  3. 3. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign againstminingAugust 2012order was signed in July 6, released July 9. The intent of the said policy was to address issuesrevolving around the mining industry, specifically on the environmental impacts and economics orrevenue-generation.EO 79 and some gains identifiedSection 1 of the said EO identifies Areas Closed to Mining Applications, including protected areas andprime agricultural lands covered by Republic Acts 7586 and 6657, respectively. Tourism developmentareas and other critical areas, including island ecosystems are also considered as no-go mining zones.Other provisions included the full enforcement of environmental standards and use of ProgrammaticEnvironmental Impact Assessment that studies the impacts of development activities at differentlevels. It also constituted the Mining Industry Coordinating Council that will ensure the propercoordination and implementation of the new policy.After the release of said document, the government is expected to start addressing concerns raisedabout mining, including the lack of baseline data, policy inconsistencies, economic valuation ofnatural resources, need to increase government share from, and effects of environmentaldegradation.In summary, the EO focused on establishing environmental safeguards and the need for a newrevenue sharing scheme, to maximize the country’s profit from mining. It did not make mention ofother concerns of communities, not only in Palawan, but also in other mining-affected areas, such associal impacts and human rights violations.Major mining issuesThe province of Palawan is part of the “Man and Biosphere Reserve” program of UNESCO; it is hometo endemic species and hosts 49 animals and 56 botanical species found in the IUCN Red List ofThreatened Species. It is also home to 30% of the country’s coral reefs, has 17 key biodiversityareasv (KBAs), and 8 declared protected areas. The province is host to one of the areas in the countrywith intact old growth It is also home to ethnic groups who compose 20% of Palawan’spopulation.The indigenous people living on the main island belong to three different groups: Palawan,Tagbanua, Batak. In the southern part of the island, some communities are still living in partialisolation. Their livelihood is based on swidden cultivation, hunting and gathering, and commercialcollection of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). Lowland indigenous communities also engage incultivation of coconuts and processing of copra, as well as in animal rearing.However, the province and its people are under threat due to the increased incursion of miningoperations there. Today, varying large scale mining permits cover a total of 31, 809 hectares of theprovince, while mining applications cover almost the whole of the island province.viiAccording to PCSD, there are currently 429 mining applications in the province, which were no longerentertained after President Aquino ordered a moratorium on processing mining applications inFebruary 2011.Prepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 3
  4. 4. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign againstminingAugust 2012Impacts of 30-years mining in Palawan includeviii: deforestation and loss of wildlife habitat, decrease inquantity and quality of water supply and its impact to agricultural production; erosion and flashfloods;threat to coastal resources; and health impact due to water and air pollution.While, indigenous cultural communities (ICCs/IPs) oppose mining in their ancestral domains mainlybecause of the intrusion of mining companies in ancestral lands and their failure to secure the neededsocial acceptability requirement, including that of free prior and informed consent (FPIC). It was a shockfor IPs to find that communal lands are turned into private lands to accommodate mining tenements.Through geo-tagging and other research led by ALDAW in collaboration with other institutions, it hasbeen found that MacroAsia, Lebach and Ipilan Nickel Corporation violated the Philippine Mining Act of1995 and SEP Law as they carried out exploration in restricted zones, and will affect the watershed areasfrom where IPs acquire their water for daily needs and irrigation. Further, exploration activities tookplace in sacred lands, without the consent of the ICCs.ixMore importantly, there are clear and substantiated evidence on the forging and falsification by Lebachof a Certificate of Precondition (CP) allegedly issued to the company by the National Commission onIndigenous Peoples (NCIP). In spite of such strong evidence, no penal charges have yet been imposed onLebach, nor the company’s mining permit has been revoked.In a video documentary entitled Palawan: our struggle for nature and culture, ALDAW presents thesacred grounds of their ancestral domains covered by the mining concessions but without the consentof the Palaw’an tribe. The 15-minute documentary depicts the culture of IPs in Palawan, the Batak myth,and how mining operations, if allowed to pursue, will affect not just the environment but also their lives.(See:ños also found themselves criticizing the role of the Department of Environment and NaturalResources (DENR) and PCSD, created after the passage of the SEP Law, and have been found beingcorrupted by mining corporations to entertain exploration in environmentally critical areas networks,including virgin forests and supposed no-go zones.EO 79 revitalizing the Palawan campaignAfter the release of the new mining policy, communities and advocates in Palawan and other islandprovinces were elated upon learning about the no-go zones or areas that will be closed to mining inSection 1.An accompanying directive of EO 79 was an instruction to the DENR and PCSD to “desist from processingmining applications in Palawan and enhance the strict implementation and periodic review of theStrategic Environmental Plan for Palawan with the PCSD”.xThe reaction of several organizations in Palawan, including PNNI and Environmental Legal AssistanceCenter (ELAC)xi, vary. It is seen generally as a win for the Palawan advocacy, even including that of otherisland provinces such as Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon.However, there seem to be a gray area on the continued operation of mining companies in Palawan thatwere previously awarded concessions before the policy issuance. Groups expected, that consideringPalawan as a fragile island ecosystem, a complete mining ban be implemented.Gina Lopez, anti-mining advocate and chief of Bantay Kalikasan was pleased with the provisions on no-go zones. The campaign she leads, in effect has won to protect agricultural and ecotourism areas fromPrepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 4
  5. 5. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign againstminingAugust 2012the devastation of mining operations.ELAC finds that the order specifically on stopping the processing of mining applications in the island is asmall gain, meaning that the pending 429 mining applications will no longer be processed. On the otherhand, “processing” may be interpreted arbitrarily, as for advocates, this should mean that all MPSAexploration holders who are still going trough the FPIC and SEP Clearance process in order to continueand develop and utilize minerals must no longer be processed.MPSAs of MacroAsia, Lebach, Ipilan and Hillborough, which are currently going through FPIC processes,should no longer be allowed to continue.Indigenous peoples on the other hand are firm in their decision to not allow mining in their ancestraldomains, as they know its devastating impacts to their lands and the threats it will bring not only tothem but also to the future generations.ALDAW further states, “the new mining EO has been a huge disappointment for all of us, indigenouspeoples, environmental organizations and concerned citizens… The attempt to cope with the pressureposed by escalating anti-mining sentiments has been rather inadequate and mostly cosmetic.”The new policy has revitalized the Palawan campaign with some identified gains, and further escalatedthe peoples clamor for change in the way we manage and utilize our resources.Conclusion: Policy shift still neededDespite some gains from the new EO, there is still a need to push for a new mining policy that will shiftthe development paradigm being adopted by the current Administration. It is found that the current EOstill adheres to the export-oriented, foreign investments framework of exploiting our mineral wealth—one that is not sustainable and responsible.A law currently lodged in Congress is the Alternative Minerals Management Bill, which presents aframework for the responsible utilization of our mineral resources that gives high considerationprotection of environment and the rights of communities. This law aims to address the gaps and flaws ofthe current Mining Act of 1995.“Building on these small gains, we need to muster further strength in ensuring that these gains will notbe rendered useless,” said Atty. Grizelda “Gerthie” Mayo-Anda, Assistant Executive Director of ELAC.The Palawan campaign against mining does not stop there. Groups and communities in the area are stillclosely monitoring the actions of PCSD, DENR, the provincial government, NCIP, and local governmentunits. Engaging these agencies in the proper implementation of the EO and its directives are important.Further, there is a need to actively participate in the total economic valuation of the island, reviewingthe current mining operations and ensuring the protection and conservation of the Last Frontier.Prepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 5
  6. 6. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign against miningAugust 2012Table 1. Issues Mineral Production Sharing Agreement as of 2011Corporation/ Mineral Permit No., Area Coverage, Location StatusPermitee ResourcesPalawan Star Ventures Mineral Production Sharing Agreement Limestone Approved MPSA dated January 19, 2001(no operation)Mining Inc. - 172-2001-IV covering 5,234.21 has. in Espanola, PalawanRio Tuba Nickel Mining Mineral Production Sharing Agreement Nickel Approved MPSA dated June 4, 1998 (pending the approval in PCSDCorporation - 114-98-IV covering 990 has. in Mt due to legal cases filed and the mining claim falls under restricted Bulanjao, Bataraza, Southern Palawan zone of the original and approved ECAN Zone of the municipality of Bataraza. However, LGU Bataraza issued an ordinance amending the zonation of Bulanjao Range into Mineralized Zone); Currently in commercial operationCelestial Mining Mineral Production Sharing Agreement Nickel Approved MPSA dated Sept. 18, 1993 - Transferred its MPSA to IpilanCorporation/ Ipilan - 17-93-IVB covering 2895.06 has. in Nickel Corpration (INC) Finished its exploration stage;Nickel Mining Brgy. Mainit and Maasin, Brookes Point NO OPERATION to date;Corporation NO SEP CLEARANCE FOR MINING, DEVELOPMENT/UTILIZATIONCentral Palawan Mining Mineral Production Sharing Agreement Limestone Approved MPSA dated January 19, 2001 (no operation to date)and Industrial - 171-01-IVB covering 4896.01 has. inCorporation QuezonMacroAsia Corporation MPSA No. 220-2005-IVB issued in Nickel, chromite,Ended its exploration last December 2007 and issued ECC this August December 1, 2005 covering 1113.9836 iron, and other 2010 in absence 0f SEP clearance for Utilization; Pending in PCSD the has. in Brooke’s Point, Palawan associated approval of ECAN amendment of Brookes Point; mineral deposits NO ISSUANCE OF Certificate of Precondition from NCIP due to irregularities of the conduct of free prior and informed consentMacroAsia Corporation MPSA No. 221-2005-IVB issued in Chromite, nickel, Exploration December 1, 2005 covering 410 has. in copper and other Brooke’s Point, Palawan associated mineral depositsLebach Mining EPA No. 230-2009 (issued 7-24, 2009), Nickel and other No social acceptability, series of records of irregularities in theCorporation MPSA No. 285-2009 as amended associated conduct of FPIC - Forged the signatures of the Ancestral Domain covering 2,500 has. in Bgy. Ipilan and mineral deposits Officer and FBI team; No SEP Clearance, no endorsement from Aribungos, Brookes Point affected barangays. But with questionable SB endorsement of Brookes Point.Source: Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Palawan NGO Network, Inc., 2012Prepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 6
  7. 7. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign againstminingAugust 2012Prepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 7
  8. 8. New mining EO (Executive Order No. 79 s. 2012) revitalizing the Palawan campaign againstminingAugust 2012Endnotes:Prepared by Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer of Alyansa Tigil Mina 8
  9. 9. i Download copy here: a photographic context, geotagging is the process of associating photos with specific geographic locationsusing GPS coordinates. ALDAW geo-tagging findings are available through the following reports: Core zones according to the SEP Law are “areas above 1,000 meters in elevation, virgin forests or primarygrowth forests, areas with steep gradient (above 50% slope), and critically threatened/endangered habitats andhabitats of rare endangered species or habitats of Palawan local endemic species of flora and fauna”. This zone,according to the SEP law, shall be fully and strictly protected and maintained free of human disruption.iv March 3, 2011: ANC Presents set up the first mining debate on television;May 25, 2011: Bantay Kalikasan chief Gina Lopez and Philex President and former COMP Chairperson Mr. GerryBrimo was on a heated dialogue/debate in a formal forum where discussion focused on the ‘benefits of mining’;March 2, 2012: A mining conference was held in Makati where the speakers discussed the impacts of mining onthe Philippine economy and environment.v Key Biodiversity Areas are “sites of global significance for biodiversity conservation, identified using globallystandard criteria and thresholds, based on the needs of biodiversity requiring safeguard at the site scale.“ Theycover 70% of the world’s natural resources. (Ruth Grace Ambal, Conservation International-Philippines)vi 2000 Data from HARIBON Foundation 2003 based on ESSC 1999 cited there are only 18.3% total forest coverin the Philippines and only 3% remaining old growth forest.vii Data gathered by Palawan NGO Network Inc, 2012. PNNI is a coalition of 33 NGOs/POs in the province ofPalawan.viii Anda and Galido The Cost and Benefits of Three Decades of Mining in Rio Tuba, Bataraza, Palawan, pp. 27-66,Sharing Natural Wealth for Development – Case Studies from Palawan Province, Philippines, ELAC and AteneoDe Manila University, September 2006.ix For further reading/reference, please see ALDAW Position Paper on Mining, 2010.x Memorandum from the Executive Secretary Pursuant to EO 79 (s. 2012), released 9 July 2012.xi PNNI, ELAC and ALDAW are members of Alyansa Tigil Mina.