First, Please Clean Up
(As a gift to our followers and in order to prepare for the “Big Mining Debate” on ABS-CBN on Friday evening at 1830, we are uploading for your convenience the first in-depth independent journalistic assessment of the mining industry since the Supreme Court upheld the Mining Act in 2004…enjoy the read…take part in the discussions…you be the Judge and Jury!)
In June, President Arroyo issued Executive Order 734, placing the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
To environmentalists, the new setup is not as harmless as it seems. It came at a time when a few municipalities in Palawan had made known their opposition to mining activities. The capital, Puerto Princesa City.that city internationally applauded for environmental management—has adopted a total ban on mining.
The big foreign companies are keen on the huge nickel ore deposits in the province, and the green souls are convinced that these interests pushed for EO 734. The implication of the President’s order is that the PCSD, which is empowered to implement environmental laws in Palawan, will now have to bow to DENR rules, such as those on issuing environmental clearances and mining permits.
And we all know that the DENR has, in some cases, compromised the efforts of many local governments to seriously run after irresponsible miners.
One wonders why the national government would go to great lengths for the mining industry, that it would not spare even the country’s last frontier.
The government has touted mining as our economic hope. From $264 million in 2005, mining investments could reach $4.1 billion by 2010.
What we have found out is that the mining industry’s economic impact remains negligible—jobs created are only 0.4 percent of total employment, and revenue is less than 1 percent of total government collection each year.
Our research shows that many communities resist large-scale mining operations because of the costs to the environment and the health of the locals.
The Philippines’ mineral potentials make it one of the world’s five most attractive mining investment destinations. Its minerals policy is also one of 10 worst in the world. The legacy of the mining industry here is a string of abandoned mines, tailings waste pollution, and disasters.
The Philippines is not conducive to socially responsible mining—not yet. There’s a lot of cleaning up to be done. The national government can start by making mining companies pay up for the damages that their operations are expected to bring.
The Foundation for the Philippine Environment saw, as we did, the need to put matters in perspective before the government grants any more mining permits. They provided funding for this special issue. Editorial judgment was left to us.
Roel Landingin, our guest editor, came up with a very comprehensive lineup of stories. This is the first journalistic assessment of the mining industry since the Supreme Court upheld the mining act in 2004.
We invite you to establish with us whether miners and officials have learned from mining’s ugly past.
Miriam Grace A. Go
Assistant Managing Editor
Newsbreak Special Issue: The Big Dig-Mining Rush Rakes Up Tons Of Conflict
3 Dear Reader
5 Unearthing Strife By Roel Landingin
12 Not Fit for Mining By Chay Florentino Hofileña
17 Dirty Past By Roel Landingin and Jenny Aguilar
20 Not all Minerals Aid Health By Ana Marie Leung, MD
22 Protracted War By Aries Rufo
26 Bishops and Activists By Aries Rufo
28 On Shaky Ground By Carmela Fonbuena
31 Local Solutions By Roel Landingin
34 A Safe Hedge By Germelino Bautista, PhD
36 Revisiting Rapu-Rapu Text by Chay Florentino Hofileña Photographs by Gigie Cruz
Focus On Luzon
42 Gunning for Nickel By Carmela Fonbuena
44 Breaching the Barricades By Roel Landingin
46 Defaulting on Nature By Prime Sarmiento
Focus On The Visayas
49 Second Life By Earl Parreño
Focus On Mindanao
52 Fostering Dependence By Purple Romero
56 Surrogate State By Purple Romero
58 Divide and Rule By Gemma Bagayaua
62 The Peaks of Tampakan By Purple Romero
63 Data Mining By Jenny Aguilar
Jenny Aguilar is a Newsbreak researcher. Gemmaa Bagayaua is Newsbreak’s online coordinator. Germelino Bautista teaches economics at the Ateneo de Manila University. Carmela Fonbuena covers Congress for Newsbreak. Chay Florentino Hofileña teaches journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University and is a board member of the Public Trust Media Group. Roel Landingin is Manila correspondent of the Financial Times and is a board member of the Public Trust Media Group. Ana Marie Leung is chairperson of the Department of Preventive and Community Medicine at Saint Louis University in Baguio City. Earl Parreño is a director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms. Purple Romero is a Newsbreak researcher. Aries Rufo is Newsbreak senior reporter and covers politics, the judiciary, the Church, labor, health, and other social issues. Prime Sarmiento is a writing fellow of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
Cover Photograph by Gigie Cruz
Have miners and officials learned from mining’s ugly past?