E-libel filed by HMC
THE CITY PROSECUTORS of Taguig City passed a resolution recommending that a civil society organization working for the protection of small islands against large-scale mining be indicted for Internet Libel or e-libel.
The charges against Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. was filed by Hintatuan Mining Company for reporting the latter's operation in Manicani Island, part of Guiuan town in the Province of Eastern Samar.
Deputy City Prosecutor Patrick Noel De Dios submitted the resolution to Taguig Prosecutors’ Office, recommending PMPI National Coordinator Yoly Esguerra and three other staff be held responsible. This was approved by City Prosecutor Archimedes Manabat. The complaint was filed last year.
The e-libel complaint stemmed from a press release of PMPI reporting a June 2015 incident, where a barge hired by the mining company to carry its equipment ran over and destroyed small fishing boats barricading the island. Fisherfolks of Manicani island formed a barricade to keep the barge from docking.
While the complaint was recommended to be heard in court, only one of the three counts of Cyber Libel raised by HMC will become the basis for the case.
“The prosecutors consider as libelous the PMPI report regarding the destruction of three fishing boats by the mining company’s barge,” Atty. Macki Maderazo, the PMPI 4’s legal counsel, explained.
He added that they will challenge the part of the resolution that says a mining company cannot be considered a public figure because Philippine jurisprudence and several expert legal opinions have repeatedly asserted that corporations may also fall under the public figure category.
“Just like what we said on our counter-affidavit, we believe that the complaint of the HMC is a form of SLAPP [strategic legal action against public participation] and plain harassment for our organization that is instrumental why HMC’s operations in Manicani Island is suspended until now. It is sad that the prosecutors failed to see that but the fight is not over,” Esguerra said.
HMC’s operations in the island of Manicani have been suspended since 2002 upon the request of the Diocese of Borongan in behalf of Manicani residents, due to the mining operations adverse impact on the environment.
“Acknowledging how powerful and connected the complainants are, we have prepared for the worst. We will not be shocked if a warrant against us will soon be issued and we are ready. In fact, we are elated with the number of lawyers and organizations that have signified their intent to help us in our case,” Esguerra said.
The case filed also named Deputy Coordinator Candy Hidalgo and PMPI's Anti-Mining Campaign team composed of Primo Morillo and Edel Garingan.
Since the early 2000s, PMPI and the Diocese of Borongan have been helping the resistance put up by islanders led by the Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI) – formerly the Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO).
Faith groups and civil society organizations urged the aspirant leaders of the country in the coming 2016 Elections to incorporate the issues of the environment and human rights in their campaign platforms by seriously going through the Pope's encyclical.
"All candidates, even the non-Catholic ones, can learn a lot of things from Laudato Si where Pope Francis succinctly discussed the connection of several environmental issues with the call for social justice," Ed Garingan Anti-Mining project officer of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI) said.
Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ encyclical released in June 2015.
The media conference was the product of a National Forum on Laudato Si and the 2016 elections organized by PMPI and the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA/Caritas Filipinas) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Saturday, April 9, in Quezon City. About 100 church workers and CSO leaders were present.
Kidapawan Violence and electoral gimmickry
"What we are seeing so far for the 2016 electoral campaign is the usual circus. They can do better than this," said Garingan.
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STATEMENT ON THE PASSAGE OF THE
EXPANDED NATIONAL INTEGRATED PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEM
In recognition of dire need of the country to build more resilient communities and environment to face the adverse impact of climate change and natural disaster, PMPI through its Anti-Mining Campaign support the passage of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) with a few concerns on some provisions.
PMPI and its local partners from various mining-affected communities appreciated the policy that aims to enhance conservation efforts for unique, rare and threatened species of plants and animals and their habitat, thus ensuring the sustainable use of our natural resources and cultural diversity. We also like, more particularly its intent to increase the participation of civil society organizations and communities in the management of the declared protected areas.
As we anticipate the passage of the bill, we would like to appeal to our legislators to ensure that in consistency with the intent of ENIPAS that is to intensify the protection and conservation mechanisms of the protected areas, all existing permits, contracts or agreement entered into by the government for the utilization of natural resources, which are involve in acts prohibited in the protected area like the exploration and extraction of natural resources will NO LONGER BE APPROVED FOR RENEWAL.
On the “Transitory Provision”, it shall be clarified and expanded that not only land-use and resource permits will be subjected for review for consideration of its renewal; specifically it should also include related contracts and agreements on the utilization of the resources inside the protected area.
For PMPI, the immediate application of this bill will be in one of our Sites of Struggles in Eastern Samar, the Island of Manicani in the Municipality of Guiuan. Manicani Island is part of the 1994 Presidential Proclamation No. 469 declaring the Municipality of Guiuan as Protected Landscapes and Seascapes under the National Integrated Protection Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.
Unfortunately, just before the proclamation, in 1992 a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement was issued to a mining company covering almost the entire island. However, up to this time, the project remained at the exploration stage and has not yet secured approval for its Declaration of Mining Project Feasibility (Source: letter of MGB to PMPI dated December 7, 2015). The said project was also suspended in November 2002 due to the insistent campaign of Save Manicani Movement, a People’s Organization in the island, with the support from the Diocese of Borongan, Eastern Samar.
With the suspension of the mining project and its failure to operate fully, and the realities presented by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, we would like to consider the following as good opportunities to assert the protection of the island and implement projects that will serve the purpose of Proclamation 469. We also see that the passage of ENIPAS, in prayers that existing agreement will no longer be renewed, will paved the way to the full protection and sustainable development of the island.
We invite everyone to MINESWEEPER: A Forum on Mining and Climate Justice on January 23 at the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) Auditorium, UP Diliman.
By Gaia Mandala
Bus and taxi drivers threw coins on the group tailing the hearse as a sign of respect and observing superstition. The funeral march along EDSA was carrying no dead celebrity. In fact, it’s not carrying any remains at all.
To call for justice and pay tribute to the brutally killed members of Indigenous Peoples, several organizations and lumad groups marched from the People Power Monument towards Camp Aguinaldo, led by a white hearse carrying an empty coffin on October 30.
Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc., Alyansa Tigil Mina, members of B’laan community, the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocate (PAHRA), and Lilak-(Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) remain steadfast in their stand that the mining operations has perpetuated rampant violence and human rights violations, leading to the deaths of several IPs opposing the destructive industry in their respective areas.
The protesters parked the hearse by the gate of Camp Aguinaldo to light candles for the dead during a short program. The groups also chanted for justice, holding the government and its defense department accountable for the continuous deaths among lumad groups.
Aside from the recent killings of educators and IP members in Surigao del Sur, the groups also commemorated the Capion Massacre, where the members of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines reportedly strafed a hut killing B’laan family inside. This happened three years ago, in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
“As President Aquino remembers his own dead loved ones this Undas, we also urge him to remember the names of numerous IP children, women, and men who were slain under his administration. Among them are Jordan and John Capion, B’laan boys aged 13 and 8 who were killed along with their mother Juvy, by the military men under the 27th IB,” said Lilak coordinator Judy Pasimio.
ATM, meanwhile, noted that 32 IP leaders within its network were killed under the Aquino administration, because of their struggle to protect their community from mining activities.
“We are hoping that impunity, injustices and IP Killings will not be part of the things that PNoy will hand over to the next administration,” PMPI campaigner Ed Garingan said.