Oust-GMA to End Mining Liberalization,
A national conference on
mining held recently concluded that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
serves as an instrument of corruption and plunder by foreign mining
corporations and declared her ouster as an urgent agenda.
BY FELICISIMO H.
For participants to the Second People’s
Mining Conference, realizing the ouster of the Macapagal-Arroyo government
is not just a strategic objective but a matter of urgent necessity. Arroyo
has come to symbolize a mining rush nationwide that primarily benefits
transnational mining corporations while leaving the people destitute and
displaced as well as killed and ill because of militarization and diseases
caused by large-scale foreign mining.
That is why on the first day of the
conference held June 11-13, participants did not hesitate to momentarily
leave the conference venue on a call to join a rally demanding the
president’s ouster a few days after evidence surfaced which confirmed
widely held suspicions that the president cheated in last year’s
At the end of the conference, participants
formalized their support to calls for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down
from Malacañang in a declaration which also advances the reorientation of
the domestic mining industry through a People’s Mining Policy.
Arroyo’s corruption and plunder
Conference participants were one in
condemning Arroyo for being an instrument of corruption and plunder by
For prioritizing TNCs over Filipinos “who
more than foreigners, have the willingness and capability to develop the
local mining industry,” Franco Tito, barangay captain of a small-scale
mining community in Mt. Diwata, Campostela Valley, said President Arroyo
“is more fit to be the president of foreigners and not of Filipinos.”
Tito accused the President and the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of deception and
corruption in managing gold-rich Mt. Diwata through the Natural
Resources Mining Development Corporation (NRMDC), a government-owned
corporation. He expressed suspicion that the NRMDC intervened in
small-scale mining operations in Mt. Diwata in order to pave the way
for the entry of mining TNCs.
“They (national government) are deceiving
the people that they came to Mt. Diwata to enforce peace and
order only to offer our place to foreign investors in mining roadshows in
Manila and abroad,” he said.
Among 23 priority mining projects
nationwide which the government through the DENR is offering to foreign
investors is the Mt. Diwalwal (also Mt. Diwata) Direct State Gold
Tito said President Arroyo could also be
cited for corruption for profiting from small-scale miners in Diwalwal. He
said since the NRMDC came to Mt. Diwata in 2001, the national government
has been getting 15 percent of the gold ores small miners have been
digging up as excise taxes. In exchange, the government promised to build
a tailings dam, but up to now no dam has been built.
Tito said a part of the proceeds from the
tax goes straight to the president’s social fund which he also said he
believes was used during Arroyo’s campaign in the 2004 elections.
Tito estimated the amount that Diwalwal
small-scale miners have already paid the NRMDC at P150 million. The NRMDC
also undertakes gold mining operations in Diwalwal.
In another case, Dr. Orencio Pusing, leader
of the Aroroy Gold Panners Multipurpose Cooperative in Masbate accused the
DENR of playing deaf to charges of corruption against a DENR local
executive who favored the return of Atlas Consolidated Mining Company (ACMDC)
through a dummy foreign-funded mining corporation under questionable
circumstances. Pusing said ACMDC forfeited its right to the mining project
for failing to pay P82 million in excise taxes. He also charged Filminera,
ACMDC’s dummy, of human rights violations by forcibly driving away
small-scale miners, including a small-scale miner who was shot and wounded
reportedly by a Filminera guard last April.
ACMDC’s copper project in Toledo, Cebu, is
under similar circumstances. On President Arroyo’s order, the company’s
unpaid tax obligation was cancelled to pave the way for ACMDC’s resumption
of operations in Cebu.
Both the Aroroy and Cebu mining projects
are included in the 23 priority projects of the government.
Deaths, displacement and diseases
The government’s mining projects are
causing deaths, displacements and diseases. Most victims are indigenous
In Central Luzon, two Aeta leaders were
abducted and found murdered last February. Their deaths followed after
they voiced opposition to the expansion of operations of Benguet
Corporation’s Dizon Mine which is encroaching in Aeta ancestral
territories in Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga.
In Surigao provinces where five of the 23
government mining projects are found, scores of government military,
police and para-military forces are deployed. This resulted in the
forcible evacuation of over 2,000 Manobos on the first week of June. Two
of their leaders have been killed. Meanwhile, four peasant leaders are
missing up to the present.
Manobo Datu Jalandoni Campos, who
participated in the mining conference, said they believe the
militarization is connected to mining and energy projects of the
government. In nine Manobo communities where the mass evacuation took
place, a few months before scores of military men descended in Brgy.
Diatogon, Andap Valley, Surigao del Sur, the
Department of Energy allegedly gave the go-signal to Benguet Corporation
for its coal mining project in the area.
Meanwhile, an outbreak of diarrhea was
confirmed by local health authorities in Rapu-rapu island, Albay province,
according to conference participants from the Bicol region. Three-fourths
of the island is the site of a pollymetallic project of Canadian and
Australian Lafayette Mining which started its operations on the first week
People’s mining policy
A major highlight of the mining conference,
according to Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson of the Defend Patrimony,
which spearheaded the conference, is the adoption by conference
participants of the People’s Mining Policy.
Concepcion said the People’s Mining Policy
seeks to disengage the local mining industry from its export-orientation
and dependence on foreign investments.
“Whatever benefits of mining should be
guaranteed to accrue to the national interest and the Filipino people’s
needs for national industrialization, genuine agrarian reform and
agricultural modernization, as well as to basic needs for housing,
consumer goods and the general upliftment of lives of Filipinos,”
Concepcion said. She added this can only be done by starting the
development of downstream mining industries, stressing that mineral inputs
should be used for improvement of domestic industries and not the
economies of rich countries.
Concepcion, however, stressed that the
first thing that must be done is the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995.
But for the participants of the Second
People’s Mining Conference, first and foremost must be the removal from
office of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“For as long as Arroyo sits in Malacañang,
the people and the environment can never be safe from mining TNC plunder
and globalization,” said Clemente Bautista of the Kalikasan People’s
Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE).
The conference was organized by
Kalikasan-PNE, Tebbteba Foundation, Samahang ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at
Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (Agham), Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong
Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) and the Center for Environmental
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2004 Bulatlat
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.