Quezon City— An art installation entitled “IMAHEGRASYON” will be on display at the National Science Complex lobby in UP, Diliman featuring the plight of Manicani residents as they continue their protest in front of the DENR Central office against open-pit mining.
The art installation explores the many ways in which notions of voluntary and forced migrations of people are traced, located and negotiated. Used clothing, slippers and other material objects used by Manicani residents in their journey from Manicani Island in Eastern Samar to Quezon City are included and arranged on the floor of the gallery which serve as markers of transit and symbolize the movement of people from one place to another.
“Some choose to move out from their homes for better opportunities while there are others who are forced to flee due to war or famine and some move because of environmental threats bringing with them a few belongings. In the case of Manicani residents, they do not carry many possessions with them and do not have a clear idea of when they may finally go back, and these are the issues I want to present in this work” artist, Geri Matthew Carretero said.
Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI) expressed support in the art installation and calls on President Duterte to uphold the ban on the open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver, and complex ores in the country through the DENR issued Administrative Order No. 2017-10.
“This exhibit is another great way to tell a chapter of Manicani’s long struggle against mining. As communities such as Manicani continue to suffer from mining, we remain hopeful that Secretary Cimatu of DENR comply with the President’s directive and implement the ban on open pit mining.” added Ms. Yoly Esguerra, National Coordinator of PMPI.
The work also highlights a variety of issues and concerns that represent other displaced groups such as the struggle of urban poor communities in Bulacan and Tondo for free housing, the internal displacement of Maranaos who involuntary fled their city due to war, and the Lumads who are forced to evacuate as military forces search for NPA members and sympathizers in their communities.
“The identities, experiences and collective memories of the plight of displaced groups and individuals are muted by institutions and those in power. This work will tell their stories about refuge, political and environmental turmoil, territorial struggle, compassion and hope” Carretero further added.
The installation is part of a class exhibit “Unwrapped”, which features 6 artists under the Master of Fine Arts Program of the UP College of Fine Arts, Diliman. The exhibit is open from 7am to 5pm and will run from December 8-15, 2017.
While miners celebrate Miners’ Day on December 6, communities made host to mining continue to suffer from it. While miners enjoy huge returns from their mining operations, affected communities struggle to make both ends meet from meager fish catch and limited agricultural production.
This is the case for Manicani and Homonhon, two island barangays off the coast of Guiuan in Eastern Samar as well as for Sta. Cruz in Zambales host to six large-scale mining projects. Thus, communities from Manicani and Sta. Cruz are now encamped at the DENR in Manila to express strong opposition to mining activities that negatively affected their lives.
In Manicani Island, the mining permit of Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) expired last October 28, 2017. The residents are now calling for DENR to compel the same mining company to commence rehabilitation and leave the island for good. Afterall, the island is protected by the NIPAS law and a provincial ordinance that bans large-scale mining in Eastern Samar.
For Homonhon, which has barely 10,000 hectares of land, with a population of 8,000+ people and host to three mining companies (whose mining permits were cancelled by then Sec. Gina Lopez), they continue to struggle and seek for protection from such mining operations. The coastal area of the island is also protected by NIPAS while the entire island should be protected by the same provincial ordinance that bans large scale mining in Manicani.
Furthermore, in a watershed assessment commissioned by the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), it was found that endangered species inhabit the island such as the Philippine Cockatoo (in Homonhon and Philippine Mallard in Manicani. These species are endemic to the Philippines and found only in limited areas in the country. The report was submitted to the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and we hope to hear soon what will be the bureau’s action on this. PMPI hopes that DENR acts on this immediately before these species are totally wiped out in the islands.
In Sta. Cruz, Zambales, permits of four mining companies were cancelled by then Sec. Gina Lopez but are also currently on appeal before the office of the President. It suffers the same fate as Homonhon. Despite the cry of the farmers whose only appeal was for the government to ensure that laterites coming from the mining operations do not flow down to their rice paddies and water systems that impacts their rice production and their water resources, the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) continue to ignore such pleas. The suspension and/or cancellation orders were results of petitions filed by communities, but operations resumes and is on-going. The farmer’s petitions and sentiments seem to be falling on deaf ears.
In a meeting with MGB last December 5, PMPI raised the issue of the cancelled mining permits in these communities. However, MGB said that cancellation does not mean automatic stoppage of mining operation. By law, mining companies can appeal and while on appeal the situation is considered status quo. They can continue to operate. This is one of those many circumstances where we can see how mining companies are favored more than the communities. We cannot reckon why mining companies with suspended or cancelled mining permits are still allowed to operate just because they filed appeals. Isn’t a fair and just judgement would be no movement until authorities come up with a final decision? PMPI calls for the upholding of suspension and cancellation orders. It further calls on Secretary Cimatu to issue cancellation orders with finality, compel companies to commence rehabilitation works, and for these mining companies to leave these areas to the people.
If there’s such a Miners’ day, PMPI adds the narrative of the many farmers and fisherfolk who are victims of the mining industry. We fervently hope that DENR consider the lot of these farmers and fisherfolks currently encamped at the DENR; that they may also be given their most desired Christmas gift: to have their homes freed from mining – something that can also be commemorated as Freedom from Mining day!
Marawi residents are bound to experience another tragedy following the 5-month bombing of the city they call home. The launching of Task Force Bangon Marawi and the rehabilitation efforts present another problem, bigger than the war experienced by the people, one which they need to grapple with again and win over.
Who can ever forget the enormous impact of the war that left the only Islamic City of the country with thousands of people who lost their livelihood, hundreds of thousands individuals displaced, millions worth of properties destroyed, and the hundreds of lives lost by aerial bombings and fierce ground battles for five long months? In so many ways, the war is all about human rights violation. The people of Marawi have been wronged.
We implore, therefore, the government to address the harm done, to make things right and uphold the rights of our Muslim brothers and sisters through an inclusive and sensitive process of developing a master plan of the new city. Local government units and families affected should be the prime drivers of development and re-establishment of their communities, therefore, they should be an intrinsic part of the Task Force. No one, other than the internally displaced persons (IDP) themselves know their needs and what good they desire for their families.
Consultations with all families affected by the conflict should be carried out. Let families identify their problems, needs, and choices, and address these with much respect for their culture before any technical plans are developed. This process will ensure ownership of the project establishing their new city.
We strongly appeal for a transparent process of decision making of the Task Force in engaging all stakeholders, from planning, implementation, until turn-over of the program. It is crucial that a mechanism for transparency is established through the creation of a multi-sectoral monitoring team that will ensure culturally-sensitive and inclusive processes of building back a better collective vision of the future.
In the spirit of compassion, many groups participated in one way or another in providing relief to displaced families. Barring religious affiliation, many shared resources to facilitate relief from hunger, sickness, and psycho-social trauma caused by gunfire, bombing, and by being uprooted from the land of their childhood. Through this help and community activities, people may have reached certain level of normalcy. However, many have yet to fully recover and pick up the bits and pieces of their lives.
Despite these so called stop gap measures currently being done to address immediate needs, genuine participation of all stakeholders, especially the communities would ensure sustainability of the reconstruction program. With this, PMPI urgently calls for the review the composition Task Force Bangon Marawi and to seriously include representatives from local government and CSO representatives as regular members of the Task Force; to set-up a formal mechanism for community participation within the Task Force; and to conduct a genuine, thorough and participatory process of Post Disaster Needs Assessment, planning and visioning together with the communities.
The Marawi experience should concern not only Maranaos or Mindanaons. We appeal to the general public to continue journeying not only with the Maranaos, but our Muslim brothers and sisters. We pray for a stronger solidarity towards each other, for a sustained commitment of building harmonious relationships and strengthening of convictions to build communities of peace where understanding, mutual respect, and sensitivity on values and culture exist.
“We are deeply concerned. In just a matter of days after the release of Proclamation 360 terminating the peace negotiations of government with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), reports from our partners in the ground speaks of series of gunfights and displacement of people. It seems President Duterte’s pronouncements has now become an actual game plan as armed encounters and abduction resulting to forcible evacuation as military forces search of NPA members and sympathizers in communities like the Lumad communities in the Caraga Region” said in a statement by Yoly Esguerra, National Coordinator of Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc (PMPI).
Since November 22, intensified military operations are being conducted in several parts of Mindanao. According to initial rapid field report assessment from the Social Action Center of Tandag in Surigao del Sur, some 1,177 individuals or 277 families have been evacuated, at least 4 individuals are reported missing, from the hinterland communities of the municipalities of Lianga, San Agustin and other areas of Marihatag, Tago and San Miguel, all in the province of Surigao del Sur caught in the crossfire between the military and the NPA.
“Our fear that this will lead to skirmishes in communities and displacements of families are coming true. Just this past weekend, Manobo families in Surigao del Sur fled their homes in the wake of renewed military operations against the NPA.” Cathy Ruiz, Cluster Point-person of PMPI Central Visayas Cluster.
Fr. Raymond Ambray of the Diocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur condemned the ongoing clash, “The Lumads are not only victims of two warring parties but sadly, they now have become targets of the government’s effort to quell rebellion. There is now an outcry for the resumption of peace talks. Military solution will never be a solution at all; it only exacerbates the miserable plight of the affected communities.”
Current emergency situation shows increasing number of people in the evacuation centers are needing food and clothing for days nobody knows how long. Minor medical condition like colds and coughs are being experienced by children and elderly because of exhaustion after long walk under heavy rains just to flee from the battle area. Local government units and civil society may come to respond to this emergency situation. But, how long can this go on?
PMPI calls on the government and the NDFP to stop the gunfight and resume peace talks with the NDFP. Military solution, time and again, has proven to be not only inadequate but more to be inimical to the lives of these people. President Duterte should urgently consider going back to the negotiating table and resume talks to prevent increasing human rights violations and displacement of families and communities.
“As Christians, we can always seek recourse in our faith and prayers that voices of reason prevail and that both sides find that peace is still the only path to take. To reiterate our ongoing prayer: Heal our land. Heal our wounded land,” added Father Ambray.
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!