SHACKLED. Representatives from communities and development organizations, in solidarity with PMPI staff charged with cyberlibel by Hinatuan Mining Corp., express their support to protect the environment against extractive industries and to uphold the rights of environment and rights defenders in Taguig, Feb 15. In a statement, PMPI calls for justice for the communities hosts to mining operations to serve as lens as the country mulls the DENR's decision to close down 23 mining operations in the Philippines. Further, PMPI welcomes the decision of the DENR Secretary Gina Lopezto suspend 75 MPSAs in the country in favor of the threatened watersheds of communities hosts to these mining agreements.
The State Must Also Exact Accountability from Miners
Ensure the Protection of Environment and Defenders’ Rights
Communities long grieving the vast destruction brought by mining operation in their communities have just seen the light of hope again.
For the first time in history, a government Secretary cared about the water the communities drink over the earnings mining operations may bring in to the government coffers.
On February 14, Sec. Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has scrapped 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) across the country that are within the watershed system.
This is an even greater gift to Filipinos. We, environment and rights defenders, collectively as Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) are delighted that the order coming from the government has been responsive to the needs of the people and of the environment.
Not only Closure and Suspension, Demand Accountability from Miners
As we rejoice over this DENR decision, we hope and pray that the order of closure, cancellation and suspension will be implemented in due time as demanded by justice: justice for areas ravaged by the ill effects of mining operations must be at core of this resolution as the nation mulls the cancellation and closure of these extractive activities.
The result of the mining audits are finally out! The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) declared the closure of twenty-three (23) mining firms, suspension of five, and deferral of one.
For these 28 communities directly impacted by mining, the announcement from the DENR Secretary is a reason for celebration. The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., (PMPI) rejoices with all the mining affected communities, especially our partners in the Island of Homonhon that after years of struggle, a glimmer of hope has finally arrived. The fear that the remaining patches of forest and vegetation will be totally destroyed will diminish.
PMPI commends the action of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez to protect the country’s natural resources. We hope that rehabilitation of the mining affected communities that prioritizes the well-being and needs of people over economic gains will be pursued. We hope that those responsible for the destruction and desecration of our lands shall be held accountable.
We are pleased that the verdict is out!
We now call for the immediate implementation of these orders. The communities and environmental defenders cannot afford to be complacent, until we hear that these mining companies have complied with the DENR suspension and cancellation order.
We now call for rehabilitation of the mine remnants. Mining companies, especially those ordered for closure, should be obliged by the government to start rehabilitation works. We hope that the gaping pits, dead water tributaries, and barren soils will not be simply abandoned and left to the suffering host communities, just like in Marinduque.
The Marcopper operations in Marinduque has stopped, but the people continue to suffer from its impact both human and environmental. We call on Secretary Lopez to take the lead in demanding accountability from these companies. Do not leave the battle for rehabilitation to the people of Marinduque alone. The same holds true for Rapu-rapu.
We are happy that the verdict is out!
But we hope and pray that more mining audits will be conducted and more mining companies will be held accountable. We reiterate our plea to Secretary Lopez to look into the plight of Manicani Island. To declare all small island ecosystem as ‘no-go’ zones for mining. We look forward to a total ban of SMI in Tampakan, South Cotabato, given its magnitude, and that it can become our worst environmental nightmare if it pushes through.
We also appeal to Secretary Lopez to hear the voices of our communities in Kibungan, Benguet expressing their strong opposition against any activity that will alter the physical and ecological makeup of the environment that is giving them life and livelihood. Communities like these are the government’s allies in ensuring the preservation and conservation of the few remaining forest covers we have in the Philippines.
We rejoice that the verdict is out!
And we salute DENR Secretary Gina Lopez for this fearless action. No DENR Secretary has ever achieved this feat. We will continue to engage and be with her in areas of shared vision. We will be vigilant so that the entire DENR machinery follow her lead as this ailing and old structure of DENR has been lacking the political will to protect the natural resources for a long while now. We will keep careful watch over mining companies who are ready to overturn this order. We will forever be vigilant. The fight for the protection of environment and respect for all creation should become our WAY OF LIFE. In this case the modern mantra "There is no Forever" is not true.
The PMPI is a network of development organizations, environmental and rights groups, civil society organizations (CSO) people’s organizations (POs), church/faith-based groups, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany based in Aachen, Germany.
"Finally, the hauling has stopped. We thought we'll see our island waste away first."
This is one of the sentiments of residents of Manicani, an island several kilometers off the coast of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar upon receiving the news that finally, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has released an order to stop the hauling of ore stockpiles from their island.
GAPING. One of the gullies in barangay Buenavista in the island of Manicani shows where the mining company in the area extracted what have became loads of sitting stockpiles in the area. The stockpiles have been shipped to its buyer in China through hauling operations, which started May this year.
"We are rejoicing that finally, the DENR listened to us and that the MGB has now officially recalled the ore transport permit issued to Hinatuan Mining Corp. (HMC)," Rebecca Destajo, an official of Protect Manicani Island Society Inc. (PROMISI) said.
Destajo, a councilwoman of a barangay in Manicani, added that they are thankful DENR Sec. Regina Lopez met their group and understood their concerns.
In a one-page letter from the MGB Region 8 with an attached order from the Central Office, OIC Regional Director Raul Laput on August 2 wrote to HMC that the office is recalling all the permits for ore transport and mineral export.
Since Lopez took a seat as its chief, DENR has been conducting a series of audit to existing mining operations in the country in an effort to address the “disturbance of the ecological balance” of mining host communities.
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. National Coordinator Yoly Esguerra welcomed this development and expressed hope that the Government will continue to stand path in its positions against destructive mining.
Communities in the mining-afflicted island are preparing for sustainable livelihood.
In a dialogue initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) with the Diocese of Borongan listened to the community members and leaders of Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar sharing their preferred livelihood, which can be supported by the government after the mining operation leaves the area.
DENR-Forest Management Bureau Chief Ricardo Calderon facilitated the dialogue, along with Father Odick Calumpiano, Executive Director of the Social Action Center of Borongan Diocese. During the consultation held Friday July 22, leaders of the Local Government units (LGUs) of Manicani Islands and members of the community shared that the benefits of mining in their area is only temporary.
“We have to look forward and secure our future by starting to practice sustainable livelihood because mining is only temporary,” Hon. Tito Abusejo, one of the barangay captains present in the dialogue said.
Abusejo added that they are very thankful of the efforts from the government. Their barangays welcome the initiative coming from the DENR to consult the people for securing their food sources after the temporary employment brought by nickel mining in the area.
DENR lauds the efforts of Project Pagbangon of PMPI, which provides holistic and integrative development in the island including coastal resource management, shelter, sustainable agriculture, health and legal assistance, community-based disaster risk reduction and management, and communication system and devices for emergencies which is already in place in the islands of Manicani and Homonhon.
OPPOSITIONS. Groups show their different stand in placards during the consultation with DENR-Forest Management Bureau Chief Ricardo Calderon. Barangay Buenavista Captain Tito Abusejo, however, was quick to explain to the people that the discussion is not about mining but about the islands sustainability after mining in the island of Manicani. (Photo: Mel Asia)
“The government will support these endeavors and whichever the best livelihood the community may request that will also promote the protection of the environment,” said Calderon.
Most suggestions for livelihood include livestock, hog raising, cash crops, and similar endeavors.
Father Judrick Calumpiano, who is also PMPI Convenor, emphasized during the talks that the consultation is for all the members of the community, whether they are pro mining or not.
The consultation is part of DENR’s efforts to look into how the mining operation is “disturbing the ecological balance” of its host communities.
IMPLEMENT THE SUSPENSION BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
WE, a network of environmental groups, rights movement, faith-based institutions, and people’s organizations have been working in solidarity with small island communities impacted by mining operations, and we should make a headstrong and unyielding stand against hauling activities in the island before it is too late.
We are thankful of the pronouncement of the new Department of Environment and Natural Resources head Sec. Gina Lopez on the controversial mining operation in Manicani, an island off the coast of Guiuan town, Eastern Samar. BUT WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT THE SUSPENSION ORDER should be served to HMC soonest to prevent the mining company from hauling what is left of the island's precious soil.
Raw lateritic soil is exposed at the center of Manicani Island, where a mining company dug for for their ore stockpile
The recent audit by the DENR found that the company may have exceeded as indicated in their interim mining permit, and therefore disturbing the ecological balance of the island. At least 400,000 metric tons of nickel ore has been shipped to China in 8 shipments.
Nickel Asia’s Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) may have been awarded permit to operate in the island of Manicani in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. They have had the right to operate in the island. BUT THE PERMIT HAS LONG BEEN SUSPENDED.
The MPSA will end next year. The permit to transport ore stockpiles does not, in anyway, cancel the suspension order. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources does not have any authority to cancel what its superior agency, the DENR has declared. The provincial leader himself, Gov. Conrado Nicart on May 17 has ordered the operation stop, due to peace and order issues. Now, the new DENR Secretary has joined the calls to stop hauling the islands' ore towards China.
Our network, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., has been sued for libel for reporting to the national media what has been occurring in the island. But it is nothing compared to the division the operation have caused to families in the island communities. We, however, remain steadfast in our calls. Now that it cannot be done to restore the original mass of earth hauled from the island, we call on the government agencies, the mining company, and all concerned communities that it is time to start putting back what has been removed from the community: peace, richness of the land to spring crops, healthy coastal and marine resources, and improved relationship among families. The gaping hole of unrest and anger which have all become a public spectacle should be healed. It is time that we focus on the ways forward: