A video of protests can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byjU1OTkHAg&feature=youtu.be

‘Green Flag’ national day of action marks anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

3 March 2014

Protests across PH call for revocation of Aquino’s mining liberalization policies, cancellation of destructive mining projects

On the 19th anniversary of the passage of RA 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995, nationally-coordinated actions across the Philippines were launched today to call for the revocation of Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s current mining liberalization policies and projects.

Dubbed as a ‘Green Flag Day of Action against Large-scale Mining,’ protest caravans, marches, ecumenical activities and forums in Metro Manila, Ilocos, Baguio, Cagayan Valley and Davao, among others, will brandish green flags bearing calls for the stoppage of big mining projects and mining liberalization policies that have caused massive land grabbing, environmental destruction and human rights violation.

“19 years after its passage and a decade after its unconstitutionality was subverted by corporate greed, the Mining Act of 1995 remains in place and continues to open up our lands and resources to the unfettered plunder of transnational mining corporations. Pres. BS Aquino’s Executive Order 79 further reinforced the wholesale of our mineralized lands and has done nothing to arrest the growing incidents of environmental destruction, land-grabbing and human rights violations,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

EO 79 was criticized for its provision, among others, that ‘harmonized’ all environmental and governance policies to be in line with existing mining policies. The provision is currently being used as basis for the Aquino government’s dispute of a long-standing environmental code by the South Cotabato local government banning the use of the open-pit mining method, which is currently preventing the mine development of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore-Xstrata.

The various investment guarantees and auxiliary rights granted by RA 7942, such as the provision of timber, water and easement rights, have been the constant basis for mining companies for the diversion of water sources, massive forest clearing and the demolition and displacement of peasant and small-scale communities.

“You can witness the destruction caused by Aquino’s mining regime throughout the entire life of mine process in the province of Nueva Vizcaya alone. Mine exploration activities of the Royalco company have spurred human rights violations, including militarization and harassment law suits. FCF Minerals’ mine development has diverted water away from communities and demolished the homes of indigenous small-scale miners. Oceana Gold’s commercial operations have caused the massive siltation in its adjacent rivers, reduced the productivity of surrounding agricultural lands, and exploited its workers with low wages and lack of benefits,” noted Bautista.

Data recorded by the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders have noted that the militarization of mining-affected communities under Aquino’s mine investment defense policies have resulted in at least 30 victims of politically-motivated killings, 4 cases of frustrated murder, and 27 victims of strategic lawsuits against public participation or SLAPPs.

Bautista said the current policies not only caused destruction and rights violations during the operations of mines, but also encouraged the abandonment of unrehabilitated mines. The decade-long case of the Marinduque people filed against Marcopper mining corporation, now owned by Canadian-owned Barrick Gold, for causing one of the country’s most severe mine spill disasters, was almost settled with a P20-million ‘take it or leave it’ deal that would have exonerated the company from causality. South Korean-owned Rapu-Rapu Minerals, which concluded its eight-year mining contract in the island of Rapu-Rapu in Albay, attempted to leave without implementing the rehabilitation provision of its contract.

“The attempts of Rapu-Rapu Minerals and Marcopper-Barrick Gold to skirt their responsibilities in rehabilitating their mine sites upon closure belie the claims of the mining industry lobby and national government that the mine operations in the country are socially and environmentally responsible. Let us also not forget how Philex Mining Corporation has weaseled its way out of its 20-million metric-ton tailings disaster last 2012 but has not fully rehabilitated Balog and Agno River and has not fully compensated all downstream communities they affected,” added Bautista.

Bautista said the various Green Flag Day actions across the country united in their calls for the repeal of both the Mining Act of 1995 and EO 79. He said that a new people’s mining policy should be ratified in order to reorient the mining industry towards ensuring needs-based utilization, environmental safety and people’s welfare in the objective of ensuring genuine land reform, agricultural modernization and national industrialization.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator – Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) – 0922 844 9787