Effects of open-pit mining in Manicani Island. Photo courtesy of Candy Hidalgo.
The National Coordinating Council (NCC) of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) welcomes the President’s announcement that he has no intention of heeding the Mining Industry Coordinating Council’s (MICC) recommendation to lift DENR DAO 2017-10 “Banning the open pit method of mining for Copper, Gold, Silver, and complex ores in the country” as published[i] on www.inquirer.net last November 27, 2017.
While the Chamber of Mines continue to harp on open pit mining as an internationally accepted method of mineral ore extraction, it continues to disregard the fact that the Philippines is archipelagic compared to the contiguous continents where such method is being practiced. Open pit mining in very small islands in the country will not only destroy the terrestrial make-up of these islands but negatively impacts the aquatic resources of the country as well.
PMPI calls on Secretary Cimatu to comply with the President’s directive and implement the ban on open pit mining. The issuance of an administrative order that effectively bans mining in Manicani Island concretizes such statement from the President. Manicani Island, after all is classified both a protected area and a small island ecosystem, which under Executive Order 79 are areas that are included in the no-go zones. Prior to its integration into NIPAS, there was also Proclamation 1801 that established Guiuan as a marine reserve and tourism zone. Guiuan is known to have the best fishing belt in the country.
PMPI welcomes the MGB Director’s statement as published[ii] in www.business.inquirer.net that it is unlikely that HMC’s mining permit for its Manicani project will be renewed because of the above legal issues. Following these pronouncements, PMPI sees the disapproval of any or new application for mining permit in the same island and instead strengthen the island’s protection and push for its rehabilitation. The agency’s mandate is to implement such laws and has every right to reject mining permit applications based on the above laws. Furthermore, the DENR must also recognize the existence of a local ordinance that bans large-scale mining in Eastern Samar.
PMPI remains hopeful for its partner community in Manicani, that these pronouncements against the lifting of the ban on open pit mining by the Chief Executive and the MGB Director will finally end a chapter of their long struggle against mining. PMPI prays that the right to a healthful ecology and sustainable island ecosystem will finally be accorded to the residents of Manicani.
RESPECT THE PROTECTED AREAS! NO TO MINING IN MANICANI! NO TO OPEN PIT MINING!
A Day at PROMISI’s Kampuhan
"Here in the camp, there's enough food. We don't have to worry about work. People come to support us. If only we're in a comfortable house and not sleeping on a piece of plywood and in a tent, it would have been our dream of a convenient life," stated one of the campers.
Manicani residents who travelled all the way from Guiuan are currently encamped outside the gates of the DENR demanding Secretary Cimatu to issue a document assuring them that there will be no more mining in their precious island forever. Manicani is a very small island off the coast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar and among the hardest hit by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
As various groups visit the camp daily to express support to the cause of the islanders, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc (PMPI) together with Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) sponsored a day of fellowship with the islanders that started with a mass, followed by sharing with the campers and singing songs together. They were joined by PMPI's network members in Metro Manila.
"The Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of Hinatuan Mining Company (HMC) has lapsed without getting renewed. PMPI calls the DENR to require HMC to implement rehabilitation works and leave the island for good," said Yolanda Esguerra, National Coordinator of PMPI. She further expounds that Manicani is a protected area covered by National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) and that development work in the island should evolve around conservation and protection of natural resources rather than extraction of resources that destroys the small island’s environment".
HMC's MPSA expired last October 28, 2017 without getting renewed. The expired MPSA covers almost the entire island limiting areas for further development after it was hit by typhoon Yolanda.
"We hope that with the expiration of the MPSA, the Certificates of Stewardship (COS) by the residents can now be renewed. Applications for renewal of COS are still pending because the DENR said it's covered by the MPSA even if the COS were issued ahead of the MPSA," Ms. Arlene Lusterio, Executive Director of TAO-Pilipinas, Inc. and Co-Convenor of PMPI reiterated.
The land tenurial overlap was discovered when some residents of Manicani were assisted to renew their COS by PMPI in view of the shelter and evacuation component of the integrated island rehabilitation and development program called Project Pagbangon.
While the MPSA has lapsed without getting renewed, and thus forcing HMC to apply for a totally new permit, uncertainties still continue to haunt the island residents opposing mining. They vowed that they would continue their fight. They left their homes and their families to ensure that HMC or any mining company can't anymore operate or set foot in the island.
PMPI calls on DENR to implement the law by declaring Manicani and other island ecosystem a No Go Zone for mining.
Manicani Island Residents camp out in DENR against Mining
Quezon City - In a bid to stop Hinatuan Mining Corporation's attempt to renew its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), and demand from DENR not to allow mining in Manicani Island, around 30 members of the Protect Manicani Island Inc. (PROMISI) formerly Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) held a caravan from Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar to the Central Office of the DENR, with support from United Manicani Community in Metro Manila, Inc., SANLAKAS, ATM, PMCJ, SENTRO, CEED, LRC, and the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI).
The group, including PROMISI members, of about 100 marched from the National Housing Authority to DENR Central Office. The PROMISI’S leader, Mano Marcial Somooc said that they intend to stay right in front of the agency until they are assured that the application for renewal of HMC is rejected by DENR Secretary Cimatu.
USec. Maria Paz Luna OIC, Undersecretary for Manila Bay Concerns and Related Water Concerns and USec. Jonas Leones, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs received the marchers and heard their grievances inside the premises of DENR.
During the dialogue with the DENR Officials, Mano Marcial reiterated that the purpose of their caravan is to personally converse with DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu on the plight of Manicani Island which is once more under threat of the intended MPSA renewal of Hinatuan Mining Corporation. He said that they would like to request the DENR Secretary to put final judgement and disapprove the MPSA renewal of Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC).
Mana Becky, member of PROMISI and also present during the dialogue said that, "There are many legal issues surrounding the suspended mining operations of Hinatuan that were unresolved and yet most of our local government officials have endorsed this renewal."
Lyn Bergado, one of the youth residents of Manicani Island who joined the caravan said that she hopes that the DENR will no longer allow mining in Manicani Island as she fears for the future of her fellow islanders especially the younger residents of the island. She stated that the MPSA of HMC covers the entire island and what would be left them once mining operations continue.
In response, Usec. Luna said that they hear the grievances of PROMISI, especially that the new DENR Secretary requires all development to consider biodiversity. In the case of Manicani Island, it is part of NIPAS due to Proclamation No. 469, series of 1994, and Sec. Cimatu intends to visit the island of Manicani and Homonhon. She further stated that the requirements submitted by Hinatuan Mining Corporation for the renewal of its MPSA was already returned to the mining company since it did not comply with all the necessary requirements prior to the expiration of the MPSA. She added that since the current MPSA of HMC has already expired last October 28, 2017 there will be no MPSA Renewal. HMC, if they intend to apply, will instead be required a new MPSA, thus documentary requirements and processes for new mining contracts will apply.
Voices of Solidarity and Resistance – from the Island of Manicani to Quezon City
Quezon City and Borongan, Philippines - Manicani, a very small island off the coast of Guiuan in Eastern Samar that is inhabited by barely 2,000 plus individuals is in seeming peril as Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) push for the renewal of its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) which expires on 28 October 2017.
Various groups held a simultaneous action on October 27, a day before the MPSA expires in support of a protest by the island residents of Manicani against the said mining company for its nickel mining project in Manicani. Based on the records of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), HMC has already filed an application for renewal for another 25 years.
Resist! Defy! Illegal Mining! These are the words chanted by around 200 individuals led by Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) together with network partners Community Multiversity (COM) and Urban Poor Associates (UPA) accompanied the United Manicani Community in Metro Manila, Inc. and Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI) during the protest action. The group trooped to the Central Office of the MGB to file a formal opposition against HMC’s application for renewal of MPSA personally submitted by Ms. Rebecca “Manang Becky” Destajo, a resident of Manicani and leader of PROMISI.
“Ayaw nilang makinig sa aming mga hinaing. Gusto nilang sirain ng tuluyan ang isla namin. Ang mga opisyales ng aming LGU ay iba ang prioridad. Pinagpapasahan kami ng DENR, ng MGB, at ng EMB sa mga dokumentong hinihingi namin,” stated an enraged Rebecca Destajo, of Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI). Ms. Destajo who flew to Manila from an ongoing camp-out of Manicani residents in front of the DENR Region 8 office said “Ito na mga kababayan kong taga-Manicani, nagfile na ako ng pormal na protesta. Hindi natin papayagan na ubusin nila ang ating napakaliit na isla. Ang hanapbuhay namin ay dalawa lang – pagsasaka at pangingisda na parehong mawawala kapag tuluyang minina ang isla,” she further continued.
In front of MGB Central Office, Mr. Fred Macabasag Jr. of the United Manicani Residents in Metro Manila, Inc. laments, “Ako ay pinanganak sa isla ng Manicani, at dito na naninirahan sa Manila. Alam ko po ang kwento kung paano nagsimula ang mina. Pinangakuan po nila ang mga tao ng magagandang magiging bunga nito sa komunidad pero kabaligtaran po ang nangyari. Lalong naghirap ang mamayan ng isla.”
In Guiuan, another 200 individuals from Manicani, mainland Guiuan, and other parts of Eastern Samar paraded in a motorcade around the town of Guiuan in indignation to the actions of the barangays of Manicani and the Sangguniang Bayan of Guiuan for endorsing the application for MPSA renewal of HMC despite petitions filed by the residents. Earlier, the group also held programs in protest of the actions of these LGU officials. It can be recalled that last year, the SB of Guiuan signed resolution No. 32 that recommended the cancellation of Ore Transport Permit (OTP) and Mineral Ore Export Permit (MOEP) of the same company that they have endorsed now. The same resolution also recommended to the DENR not to allow mining in Manicani.
After the motorcade, the group proceeded to Borongan where the program continued. The program was held at the Borongan Plaza where the group expressed the same sentiments. Borongan is the seat of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Eastern Samar that also endorsed the same application despite its existing Provincial Ordinance No. 09 signed in 2005 which bans large-scale mining in the province of Eastern Samar.
When People in High Places play God!
The risk for the environment is ever increasing! The vultures are at it again! They’re playing Gods again. Most of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) voted to lift the ban on open pit mining yesterday.
We share the mounting frustrations and disappointments of our partner communities. This day marks a devastating development in their struggles against destructive mining. The ban on open pit mining somehow raised hopes on the seriousness of this administration to protect the environment. But it looks like it’s doomed.
Rene Pamplona, Advocacy Officer of Convergence of Initiatives for Environmental Justice (CIEJ) from South Cotabato said that “the MICC, and the major lobbyist in favor of open-pit mining, the Chamber of Mines are relentless and adamant to overturn the ban by the previous DENR Secretary. Are they relentless because of Tampakan? We will continue to stand for the protection of our watersheds and food basket that will be heavily impacted should this mining project pursue.”
Tampakan mining project if pushed, will cover the biggest open-pit mining project in the whole of Asia and would bore a huge hole on earth and would impact the food basket and watersheds not just of South Cotabato but the surrounding provinces and displacement of more than 5,000 indigenous people.
While the Chamber of Mines insist that open pit mining is an internationally accepted method of mining, they also forgot to consider that our country is archipelagic and highly populated. Those mining projects are inhabited if not surrounded by communities compared to those huge vast track of barren and uninhabited lands in other countries they always refer to.
PMPI and its partner communities condemn and demand explanation from the MICC. This policy recommendation never considered the plight of the mining-affected communities. The MICC failed to see the point that open pit mining is a perpetual liability to the government and that the country has never even seen a fully rehabilitated open pit mine.
“No amount of rehabilitation efforts can bring back the forest and lands destroyed to its original state. The biodiversity of any terrain if wantonly desecrated can kill many small species thriving in these forestlands. Not to mention the cultural, social and economic dislocation of the people in the communities.” Lamented Fr Odick Calumpiano, PMPI Co-Convenor and Social Action Director of Diocese of Borongan.
PMPI calls on the DENR Secretary Cimatu not to heed this recommendation of the MICC. We ask the Secretary to dialogue personally with mining-affected communities and engage the other environmental advocate as mining is an issue not only about the mining affected communities in ground zero, but the surrounding communities which are attributes to the impact of mining activities.