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ATM Statement on Social Justice and Environmental Protection

A worker looks at an open pit mine in the Philippines. Source: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco & Asian Correspondent

Finance Secretary Carlos "Sonny" Garcia Dominguez III should realize that enforcing the spirit of the law is necessary for the common good

ec. Dominguez stated recently that the mining industry requires good governance and transparency to ensure that it contributes to development. We agree. That is why closing and suspending those mines that violated the Mining Act (RA 7942) and oth.er environmental laws were necessary.  Our alliance sincerely believes that the results of the Mining Audit were credible. 

Our understanding is that the decision to close and suspend the mines relied on a whole set of references and evidences – the mining audit, the report of the Technical Review Committee, the local reports of NGOs and LGUs submitted as addendum to the mining audit, news and media coverage, documents from legal cases in various courts and quasi-judicial bodies, LGU resolutions and ordinances against mining projects, aerial surveys of mining areas, and ground interaction by DENR officials in the mining-affected communities.  From our own database, there is overwhelming documentation and evidences that prove the closures and suspensions are with merit.  We again offer these documents to new DENR Sec. Cimatu, DOF Sec. Dominguez and the MICC for their own perusal. 

Sec. Dominguez wrongly maintains a narrow viewpoint when he insists that the DENR Mining Audit report was the sole basis for the closures and suspensions.

Our alliance argues that former DENR Sec. Lopez was actually enforcing environmental laws and policies when she decided to close these mines.  The results of the audit and the subsequent technical review showed that standards were not met and laws were violated, so it should come no surprise that violators will be penalized.  What may have stunned Sec. Dominguez was the commitment and political will of Lopez to impose the penalties and prioritize the welfare of the rural poor rather than pander to the interest of miners and their political backers.

When Sec. Dominguez invoked yesterday that good governance and transparency are needed to support the mining industry, he forgot a third critical element – accountability.

The mine audits had legal basis, the DENR followed due process, and social justice was served when the closures and suspension orders were issued. This is how we should hold the mining industry and the government accountable. 

In a Senate hearing last Feb. 8, 2017 chaired by Sen. Joel Villanueva, CoMP Executive Vice-President Nelia Halcon admitted that there are only 19,000 workers that are directly employed by large-scale mining companies.  This is less than 1/3 of the figures the CoMP has been brandishing, and only 0.015% of the alleged 1.2 million families that will be impacted by the closures and suspensions.  This is not the first time that CoMP has been disseminating half-truths and biased data. To date, none of these mine workers were displaced because the closed/suspended mines filed their appeal and so since February 2017, the mines have been operating “business-as-usual”.

Let us not forget, not even Sec. Dominguez has refuted the available economic data – mining contributes a measly 0.7% of GDP and only employs a total of 235,000 or 0.4 employment rate.  Comparing this to tourism or agriculture, these are insignificant economic indicators. And so when Sec. Dominguez speaks of “good governance…to attract investments in extractive industries, confident that we will be able to assure sustainable forestry and mining”, he should remember well these figures. 

We welcome the statement of Sec. Dominguez that “poor governance caused us to lose our forests without emancipating our people” which “should never happen again”. As co-chair of the MICC, Sec. Dominguez must ensure that the results of the mine audits and all other evidences available at the DENR and from CSOs, are reviewed so that the complete picture of the violations and non-compliance of the mining industry is recognized.  

Our alliance rejects the accusation of Sec. Dominguez that the DENR Mining Audit was tainted and its results biased.  We reject the proposition that mining is only a technical matter, and only technical experts should be allowed to conduct the mining audit.  This prejudice is precisely the main reason why mining is confronting resistance at the local and national levels.  Mining will permanently change the physical and ecological landscape of an area. The same mining tenement has a river, a forest, or in a fragile island-ecosystem.  The same mine facilities are impacting the coastal areas for fishers and the irrigation for farmers.  The same mine project is within ancestral domains, and therefore require free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from indigenous communities.  The same mining project introduces environmental, social and political impacts. 

To reduce the mining audit to a “technical exercise” and the mining industry as an “economic driver” sans the social and environmental safeguards, defeats the purpose of establishing what is a “responsible mine”.  This reveals the hollowed and minimal understanding of the mining industry and how to implement “responsible mining”.  This is not the path to social justice. Published 5/20/17

UN Human Rights Council and 45 Countries Tell Duterte to Stop the Killings

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte received a stunning rebuke from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in its just released draft report on the Philippines. Duterte’s war on drugs and the alleged extra-judicial killing of thousands of Filipinos appears to be widely condemned by the international community ... Published 5/12/2017

Why San Francisco Is a Sanctuary City

I am a proud San Franciscan with the honor of being the first Filipino elected to public office in my city serving four terms in the San Francisco Community College Board from 1992 through 2008. City College of San Francisco has a Filipino student population of 3,800 in our main Ocean campus of 38,000 students. In my last term, we had a total population of 110,000 students in our 10 San Francisco campuses, the largest community college in California ... Published 5/6/2017

Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat Calls for Investigation of Secret Police Jail Cells

Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat is set to file a resolution urging the Lower House to immediately conduct an investigation into the alleged secret police cell in a Manila station where drug suspects are allegedly held until they cough up money ... Published 4/29/2017

Something for Filipinos to Ponder This Earth Day

As people celebrated earth Day all across the planet, Filipinos need to take pause and start championing our planet’s welfare in earnest. The Philippines once had an abundance of natural resources: lush forests, crystal-clear rivers and streams, and all manner of flora and fauna ... Published 4/22/2017

Senator Leila Delima’s Travail, Presages Dark Days Ahead for the Philippines

Since Did she really break the law? Or are the trials and tribulations she is undergoing, a prelude of how President Rodrigo Duterte intends to deal with those who oppose him: first, malign them in the public’s eye, then throw them in jail on trumped-up charges ... Published 4/18/2017

Choosing Between the United States and China

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office, he seems to have made it his personal mission to steer the country away from the United States and towards China. And while generations of Filipinos have seen their country as one of America’s staunchest allies in the region, many have followed the president and now look to China as the Philippines’ new “best friend” ... Published 4/9/2017

Will the Communist-led Insurrection in the Philippines Finally Come to an End?

The On April 5, 2017, the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) signed an interim agreement that could eventually lead to a cessation of hostilities between the Communist rebel group and the Philippine Army ... Published 4/5/2017

Is Senator Alan Peter Cayetano a Philippine Citizen?

The names of singer Tina Turner, actor Jet Li and Philippine Senator Alan Peter Cayetano are all included in a Wikipedia list of distinguished former United States citizens who relinquished their nationality and whose relinquishment is memorialized in the official “Federal Register” of distinguished former US citizens ... Published 3/29/2017

Immigrants Are Human Beings Who Just Want a Better Life

Immigration laws are relatively new. These man-made laws were instituted long after countries and national boundaries were already in existence. When there were no immigration laws people moved freely from one place to another. Famines, wars, natural disasters, plagues, poverty, personal problems, economic reasons, political oppression, etc. are the usual reasons for migration ... Published 3/11/2017

TNTs Fear Trump’s Enforcement Surge

The affectionate Filipino term for a deportable alien in the U.S. is “TNT”, short for “Tago ng Tago” or always hiding. It also stands for “Takot na Takot” or very afraid. These two translations of the acronyms accurately describe their ever fearful state since President Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents began rounding up TNTs from countries all over the world in the last two weeks ... Published 2/27/2017

The Slut-shaming Misogyny of the Duterte Administration

The idea of a Women’s March in Washington, DC first arose on November 9 when a Hawaiian grandmother posted on her Facebook page that she wanted to protest the election of Donald Trump on the day after his inaugural. Her simple suggestion quickly spread like a prairie fire on social media and concrete plans for a January 21 Women’s March on Washington were laid out with the goal of sending a message to Trump and to the world that “women’s rights are human rights” ... Published 2/9/2017

LeniLeaks and the Martin Andanar Obsession

Christmas is still more than 11 months away but I have already been inundated with emails, phone calls and Facebook messages from friends begging to be invited to my next Christmas party all thanks to the “LeniLeaks” charge of Pres. Duterte’s Communications Secretary Martin Andanar ... Published 1/20/2017

Why Does Duterte Remain So Popular with Filipinos?

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte continues to enjoy the trust and support of the vast majority of Filipinos. According to the Social Weather Station (SWS), the country’s leading polling entity, their fourth quarter survey, done on December 3-6, 2016, showed that 81% of adult Filipinos gave Duterte much trust ... Published 1/8/2017

Supporters of Duterte’s extrajudicial killings (EJK) Violate US Immigration Law

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte continues to enjoy the trust and support of the vast majority of Filipinos. According to the Social Weather Station (SWS), the country’s leading polling entity, their fourth quarter survey, done on December 3-6, 2016, showed that 81% of adult Filipinos gave Duterte much trust ... Published 12/28/2016

Happy Holidays to PHILNEWS Readers the World Over

We’ve been around now for 20 years, so we would like to take the opportunity to say a heart-felt “Thank You” to all who, in one way or another, have been with us during our two decades of online existence. To those of you who’ve sent us your comments (or continue to send us your comments), our special “thanks” ... Published 12/23/2016

Read more articles from our archives

House ‘kills’ impeachment complaint vs Duterte
MANILA, Philippines – The impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte, the first filed against him in less than a year in office, is dead. The complaint, filed by Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano was declared sufficient in form by the House Committee on Justice but all of the panel’s 42 members voted that it was not sufficient in substance.

Abu Sayyaf bandit killed, 2 others surrender due to relentless military ops
Abu Sayyaf bandit killed, 2 others surrender due to relentless military opswho was earlier killed by government forces in Bangalaw Island, Banguingui, Sulu. In the ensuing firefight, a bandit identified only as "Imbo" was killed. Also recovered by government forces were an M-16 automatic rifle, magazines and ammunition.

How did a cop trading illegal drugs get off the hook? Bato wants to know
MANILA, Philippines – How did a law enforcer manage to continue engaging in illegal drug trade for a year without being caught or reported by his fellow policemen? This is what Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Ronald dela Rosa wants to know after finding out that Police Officer 1 Fernan Manimbo, ironically a member of the Anti-Drug Enforcement Unit of the PNP in Teresa, Rizal, was able to get off the hook.

China, Philippines tackle contentious South China Sea issues in friendly dialogue
GUIYANG, China, May 19 (PNA) – China and the Philippines on Friday engaged in a candid but friendly discussion where officials from the two countries tackled almost all contentious issues on the South China Sea dispute. ”There was no issue that was left untouched, almost. We touched on several sensitive issues but we didn’t dwell, we don’t impose on the Chinese ...”

Latecomers to be locked out of House of Representatives
MANILA, Philippines — Members of the House of Representatives will soon find themselves locked out if they arrive at the session hall while the roll is being called. Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas said the majority bloc agreed at a recent caucus that beginning with the regular session on July 25, the roll of members will be called at exactly 4 p.m.

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