Mining ban stays, says S. Cotabato governor


KORONADAL CITY—South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. on Wednesday downplayed the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to mining giant Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), saying the provincial government ban on open-pit mining stays.

Pingoy, speaking to the Inquirer by phone, said the ECC would not exempt SMI from the ban and the provincial government would pursue charges against the company if it committed violations.

“(The ban) is still legal,” he said.

The governor said unless the ban was declared unconstitutional by the courts, SMI could not operate its proposed open-pit mine in Tampakan town, even if it hurdled other obstacles for a final mining permit.

Pingoy, however, said the provincial government was not keen on amending the provincial environment code, which outlawed open-pit and other destructive mining practices in South Cotabato.

“If the government will cause the nullification of our environmental code, I am going to gather the people and those who are supporting it and I will get their views on what to do next,” he said.

The Church-based Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) has lambasted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for granting an ECC to SMI.

Mario Maderazo, PMPI advocacy and legal officer, said the “clearance is the beginning of wanton environmental destruction and human rights violations in Tampakan.”

“Still fresh in the minds of the Filipino people are the mining disasters in Padcal and Semirara, and both these operations were given ECCs. If such destructive and deadly disasters will not stop the DENR, we wonder what will make them think rationally,” Maderazo said.

“Five workers of Semirara Mining Corp. in Antique were found dead while another five are still missing after being buried by tons of soil when a portion of the open-mine pit collapsed a few days ago,” he added.

Destructive practices

Maderazo also said that other mining companies granted ECCs had committed destructive practices, such as the pollution of Balog Creek in Benguet province by Philex Mining Corp. and the Agno River in Pangasinan province.

“In our view, the project in Tampakan is even more dangerous than those two sites. First, even before the operations begin, human rights violations are already rampant in the area highlighted by the killings of a mother and her two children in October last year,” he said, referring to last year’s military operations that led to the deaths of the wife and two sons of B’laan tribal leader Daguil Capion.

Capion has been at the forefront of an armed struggle by B’laan natives against SMI.

Maderazo said even SMI had admitted that its operation would destroy a large area—about 3,900 hectares of forests.

‘Very sad’

“This is very sad because the DENR twice denied the issuance of an ECC to SMI. But Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa intervened and signed a Palace document that says SMI has fully complied with the requirement of the environment impact statement (EIS) system. Such arm-twisting forced the DENR to process and eventually grant an ECC. This begs the question, is this the straight path? Or rather, in the straight path, should mountains be leveled?” Roldan Gonzales, PMIP co-convenor for Mindanao, said.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje told Manila reporters on Tuesday that the denial of the ECC to SMI in the past was in deference to the South Cotabato environmental code.

However, the DENR decided to issue one to the company following the strong endorsement from the government-led Mining Industry Coordinating Council.

Paje said the Department of Justice also issued an opinion that SMI’s operation would not violate the Mining Act of 1995 and that the South Cotabato ban on open-pit mining was unlawful.

The environment secretary said the granting of the ECC to SMI was “subject to certain conditions,” and the company’s failure to comply with these conditions could result in its revocation.

More challenges

He said before a final permit would be issued, the DENR would make sure that SMI had secured several requirements, including the consent of the locals, and expressed willingness “to assume continuing liability” over any environmental damage.

A source from the provincial office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in South Cotabato said the SMI might be able to easily secure the other required requirements toward a full mining operation.

But the source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority, said securing the consent of the B’laan communities might prove to be difficult for the company because of opposition, including those expressed by Capion’s group and other sectors.

“It would be a long process,” the source said.

Dialogue with IPs

John Arnaldo, SMI communications officer, said the company was not deterred by the opposition, including that of the South Cotabato government.

“We will continue to engage in a dialogue with the South Cotabato provincial board in resolving their concerns. Another priority this year is to seek the consent of the IPs (indigenous peoples) through extensive consultations and dialogue,” he told the Inquirer by text message.

SMI, largely owned by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth-largest copper producer, eyes full operation in 2019.

Its proposed mine area—which was expected to produce an average annual yield of 375,000 metric tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold—covers some 9,605 hectares in the provinces of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Sarangani.

On the sidelines of a campaign sortie in Pampanga, UNA senatorial candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Tampakan project may bring in an economic windfall to the country, but at a very steep price for the environment.

“I am saddened that they did not respect the provincial ordinance or resolution which bans open-pit mining,” Zubiri told reporters.

He said the province’s rich biodiversity would hang in the balance if the project would proceed.

“Tampakan is a biodiversity-rich area. I am sad because that’s the only remaining old growth forest in South Cotabato. If that will be destroyed, the farmers and fisherfolk would suffer,” he said.—With a report from Leila B. Salaverria

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  • $30075310

    Kailan tayo matuto???? Bakit di na lang iimprove ang agricultural industry sa mga probinsiya na eto imbis na pulbusin at patagin ang mga bundok. Yung bilyones na kikitain sa project na eto ay mapupunta lang sa mga dayuhan and basurang politiko. Look at Semirara in pictures, pinatag ang buong isla which will happen in Tampakan. Halos lahat ng low pressure this year nag uumpisa sa east ng Gensan. South Cotabato and Davao del Sur will lost their natural cover from typhoons.

    • beerhunters

      YES! just make a kaingin and sing the song ,”Bahay Kubo”

  • DGuardian

    Dapat manatili permanently ang mining ban sa South Cotabato at sana ay sa lahat ng bahagi ng Pilipinas. Ipinagigiba at ipinamimigay ng Pamahalaan ang mga likas na yaman ng Pilipinas sa siyete porsiyento na halaga at katumbas pa nito ang pagkawasak ng ating mga bundok, hills, plains, ponds, rivers, lakes, seas, at pagkawala o extinction ng ating mga flora at fauna. Anong klase ng mga tao ang namumuno sa ating bansa? Ang pagmamahal at pagmamalasakit sa bansa ay dapat na innate at nakatanim na sa puso at kaluluwa ng isang tao. Wala sa pinag-aralan ko noon at natapos na kurso ang emphasis sa environment, at ang mga opisyales ngayon sa gobyerno ay maaaring ganoon din, subali’t habang nag-kakaedad at nagge-gain ang tao ng wisdom mula sa experiences at lessons sa mundo ay matatanto mo ang mga bagay na dapat pahalagahan at bigyan ng tamang value at priority. Ang pagpapahalaga, pagmamahal, at pagmamalasakit sa sariling bansa at sa environment at sa mga flora, fauna, at mga likas na yaman ang dapat na kabilang sa top priorities ng isang tao. 

    Kahit Economics ang natapos na kurso ni Presidente Aquino, sana ay madama niya sa kanyang puso at isip na hindi dapat wasakin sa pamamagitan ng mining ang Pilipinas. Isa pa, naiangat ba at natulungan sa ikabubuhay at pag-angat ng antas ng pamumuhay sa lahat nitong mga aspeto ang napakaraming milyung-milyong mga Pilipino? Ang squatter colonies ay nakakalat sa Luzon, Visayas, at Mindanao. Mga wala silang edukasyon, walang makain, walang perang pangpagamot, pambili ng pagkain, damit, at iba pa? Ano ang pagbabago sa buhay ng mga Pilipino na naidulot ng mining? Pagka-giba ng Pilipinas at mga malulubhang sakit na dulot ng mga toxic chemicals ang tanging dulot nito. Walang magpro-protekta sa ating bansa at sa mga likas na yaman nito at environment kung hindi tayong mga Pilipino.

    • beerhunters

      The world needs metals,  energy (OIL AND NUCLEAR)

  • Mario_Garcia

    We should continue to protect our environment especially in Mindanao where we now experience typhoons and most of the Mindanaoans have not experience the typhoon’s devastation, this could be new to most of them. The promised land is now downgraded because we care less of our environment.  Let us concentrate on Agriculture because food is the most important necessity to sustain life while mining destroys our land no matter how beautiful the rehabilitation plans of the mining companies are.

    • Mamerto

      Protect the individual rights and welfare of the Provinces.
      Imperial Manila should not, morally, force those things.!
      Imperial Manila will not suffer the pollution & the environmental disasters that may follow.

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Walang pinag-iba si pnoy sa mga nakaraan presidente na kapakanan ng mga mayayaman ang inuuna kesa taong bayan at kalikasan!

  • Mamerto

    There is NO PRODUCTION in MINING.!

    Mining is simple EXTRACTION anddddddddddddddd…, DESTRUCTION..!.!.!

    • beerhunters

      Exactly!!Boycott the use of computers (most components are metals), construction of public structures(uses cement and steelt)and use of metals,plastics, bwa ha ha ah

  • NinjaMan

    ang tapang dahil may election. pero after election, aalisin rin ang ban.

  • Janch

    Destruction in exchange for 2% of the revenues going to the government?   No thanks.

  • Fred

    Don’t forget what happened to Marinduque because of Marcopper!

    • Mamerto

      Protect the individual rights and welfare of the Provinces.

      Imperial Manila could only, morally, do those things up to the end of the19th Century.!

  • Claro_d_recto

    May kumita ba dito?I

    Mga pu*&^%$#@ nyo!

  • Lorelei

    Sana tanungin on camera si Ochoa bakit niya pinagpilitan pa-aprubahan ang ECC ng Xstrata-SMI na 2 beses na denied ng DENR … hello nanawagan po sa mga reporters … para lang sa kabatiran ng taongbayan … BAKIT

  • kingstone_246

    Bakit? Tama si Atty. Ochoa, kung completo ang papeles ng SMI, bigyan ng ECC.
    Mali si Sec. Paje na gamitin ang open pit ban ng SC provincial board.
    Ngayong meron ng ECC, pwede ng kumuha  ang SMI ng consent ng IP, ng local at provincial government. Pwede ng ipakita ang mga plano ng EPEP, SDMP, FMR-DP, Feasibility Study.

    Paki basa lang ang RA 7942 at IRR.   

    • peaceboy quack

      still in effect pa po ang ordinance that prohibits open pit mining, kahit may ecc pa po ang SMI, hindi parin po cla mka operate because of that prohibition. They can question the constitutionality with the SC of that ordinance but until such time that the SC can determine, pwede po ma enforce ng Local govt ang ordinance at tigilin ang open pit mining. TY

      • beerhunters

        Can a provincial act have primacy over an existing law?? freshmen law students what do you say?? I can’t read you!!!

      • peaceboy quack

        if there is a conflict between an ordinance and statutes enacted by congress, the latter shall prevail, but to put an end to that issue, question the constitutionality of the said ordinance to the SC. Im sorry Atty Beerhunters. hahaha

    • kismaytami

      Ang dapat mong ipagtaka ay kung paano nakakuha ng ECC ang SMI, kung isa sa mga requirement ng ECC ay ang consent ng LGU at mga apektadong komunidad.

    • Lorelei

      Ayun na nga – document completion na lang ang ECC ngayon. Kahit hindi environmentally sound, basta kumpleto na ang papeles mo aprub ka na – insanity ! Palitan na lang nila ang pangalan to EDC – Environmental Documentation Compliance !

  • jack457

    isang nakakalungkot na mga balita… sa dami ng mga trahedya na nangyari sa mindanao at sa ibang panig ng bansa dulot ng landslide, mudslide, baha at kapareha nito subalit napakalinaw dito na ang hakbang ng administrasyon ngayun ay para ipahamak ang lokal na mamamayan na nakatira sa Tampakan at sa mga lokal na nakapaligid dito. ang darating na eleksyon ang susukat sa bawat mamamayan Pilipino kung kapani-paniwala pa ba ang “DAAN MATUWID” o hindi na. 

  • beerhunters

    palayasin ang mga kapitalistang puti!! MabuhaY ANG MGA  MATULONGING INTSIK

    • Mamerto

      The only thing I could say to you…, 
      as one Filipino to another ‘Filipino’ is… “G. to H. .!”

  • kismaytami

    Bakit hindi na lang kasi bumbunan ni abnoy, ochoa at paje ang minahin ng SMI?… Ayy… oo nga pala, wala silang makukuha dun.

  • Mamerto

    Hon. Arthur Pingoy, Jr. for Vice-President in 2016.

    This is one of the few times, when I won’t hesitate calling a political official…, “Honorable”.

  • hocares

    fight Do. Hindi kasi mga taga South Cot ang mga iyon. Mag-isip tayo ng mapagkakitaan na hindi makasira ng kalikasan.

  • beerhunters

    As i said, how would you extract the metals, oil for energy, with out mining??  

  • Charles Lynel F. Joven

    Sec. Paquito Ochoa…you are one big,  nasty A-hole……no to mining in Tampakan..! 

  • kingstone_246

    Malinaw ang nasa batas at sa sinasabi ko. Ngayon, kailangan ng SMI na kumuha ng consent sa mga taong apektado ng mining, hindi sa mga taga Manila o ibang lugar. Walang mine operation kung isa sa mga ito ang ayaw, local sanguniang barangay, sanguniang bayan at sanguniang panlalawigan. Yan ang proceso.

    Maghintay tayo.    

  • joshmale2004

    There should be compromise reached by both party on this matter. SMI should fully follow regulations and ensure surrounding environment is not destroyed. The local authorities should be given full access to inspect and ensure compliance at all times. Our mountains are full of mineral resources such as gold, copper and silver and that sooner or later, some body will extract this minerals. Let us also weigh if importing gold, copper and silver is worth the cost we are paying including taxes or it would be better to extract our own gold and copper at a lesser expense and cheaper market price for commodities these materials are produced. Every one should be open minded on theses matters instead of pessimism at onset.

  • Victor Magallanes

    Actually, there is no mining ban in South Cotabato. What is being prohibited by Environment Code of South Cotabato is open pit mining. If SMI wants to start operations, all they have to do is follow the provincial ordinance. 

  • $41747884

    Migz…this is your chance to shine…speak up and be heard !!!

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