Dear Friends, dear Kapwa,
Did you know that the Philippines has the thinnest forest cover in all of Southeast Asia?
Did you know that over a million hectares are now subject to mining claims and exploration by multinational companies - even on watersheds and lands considered sacred by the indigenous peoples? Indigenous leaders have been killed, harassed or intimidated because of their resistance to mining. Supporters such as Italian priest, Father Fausto Tentorio and Dr. Gerardo Ortega, a broadcaster, were also killed.
Many are unaware of the perilous extent of projected large scale mining in the Philippines. As of 2011, 730 mining claims and 2,000 non-metallic mines have already been approved throughout the country. These represent a big jump from 28 large scale mines, some of which experience peace and order, social and environmental problems. Approved mines are thousands of hectares in size. And yet in a country 2/3 the size of California, there are 5,000 other pending applications for metallic and non-metallic mines.
What does the country stand to gain for breaking all safe limits for mining small islands? The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 gives foreign companies royalty-free exploitation with the right to 100% mine ownership, 100% repatriation of profits, and 50 year leases; all for a mere 2% excise tax. How can such a pittance compensate for the permanent loss of mountains and cover the enormous human, economic and ecological costs that open pit and strip mining entail?
International and Philippine laws recognize indigenous people’s rights. We strongly urge the Philippine government to avert irreversible damage and grave human-made crisis.
Indigenous peoples, in our motherland and around the world, hold our ancient and sacred traditions that can keep us in balance with nature. Let us help protect, preserve, and restore the delicate life systems in our beautiful sacred land.
Imagine Philippines 2050. Double the population. Megacities. Triple the energy demand. Forests gone. Depleted mines and wastelands.
Sign now and join our call to decolonize Philippine mining. We thank you for your urgent action.
The Kapwa Katutubo - Philippine Sacred Land Initiative
Ask President Aquino to Stop Awarding More Mining Concessions
His Excellency President Benigno S Aquino III
President, Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street
San Miguel, Manila
NCR 1005 Philippines
Dear President Aquino:
We would like to express grave concern over the Philippine’s liberalized mining policy under which thousands of hectares have been opened for mining and exploration. Many are in reforestation sites and in places considered sacred by indigenous peoples.
Records of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau show that at least 730 mining claims have been approved. This is a huge jump from 28 mines in 2011. We are very concerned that with small and fragile islands the Philippines continues to process thousands of applications for metallic and non-metallic mines. Even if only a fraction of these are finally approved, the magnitude of destruction could be perilous for a highly populated land.
The prospect of mountain top removal and the devastation of forests and livelihood sources, the concentration of land to corporations, people’s resistance – all will destabilize a fragile ecology and a frail peace.
Mining will compound the pressure on ancestral lands due to lowland migration and land conversion for biofuel and other plantations. We are also saddened by the spike in mining-related violence. We feel aggrieved that in the face of resistance to mining, government has sanctioned the creation of mining militias for company protection.
All these make Philippine mining a national sacrifice for very limited and temporary gains that cannot begin to compensate the country for its losses. Mineral Production Sharing Agreements pay no royalties, just 2% excise tax. Yet, foreign firms can own 100% of mining companies and repatriate 100% of profits. Who shall pay for reforestation loans, damaged irrigation systems, poisoned rivers and seas, lost water sources and agroforestry areas? Clearly, liberalized mining works against the national interest and cannot address poverty or pay national debts as claimed.
For the above reasons, we ask for a safe and open discussion of mining impacts on indigenous peoples, water and food security, peace and order and risks due to climate change. We urge transparency on the true costs of the mining policy and the adequacy of safeguard measures. Lastly, we ask for zero-tolerance against mining-related violence – often directed at indigenous peoples and environmentalists.
In line with the ongoing review of the Mining Law, we support choices that are aligned with cultural survival and social and environmental justice. We urge you, Mr. President, to:
• Stop awarding more mining permits
• Retrench to a sound policy for mining with safe limits -- with adequate plans, implementing mechanisms and meaningful stakeholder participation
• Repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and foster open discussion on alternative measures and on the true economic, human, spiritual and environmental costs of liberalized large scale mining.
• Stop the violence and the organization of mining militias
• Regulate mountain top removal and respect local mining moratoriums and open pit bans
• Declare future reserves as well as no-mining zones to include sacred lands, watersheds and biodiversity areas
• Rationalize mining benefits and activate membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global standard for transparency and accountability in mining
• Fully implement indigenous people’s rights through adequate means to ensure Free Prior Informed Consent for mining projects
• Finally, recognize indigenous peoples’ right to say “NO” to mining
Thank you for your attention and leadership on this urgent matter. We send our support for substantial reform that will move the country away from the sad fate of a mining colony.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Mr Ramon J.P. Paje
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
2/F DENR Bldg.
Quezon City 1104
Environmental Management Bureau Director
Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna
DENR Compound, Visayas Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City
Tel No: 928-3725
Engr. Leo L. Jasareno, Director
Office of the Director
Mines and Geosciences Bureau
North Avenue, Quezon City
Hon. Zenaida Bridida Hamada-Pawid
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
2nd Floor N. dela Merced Building, Cor. West and Quezon Avenues
Quezon City, Metro Manila