Saturday 3 September 2011
Special Edition 1
Govt sends in troops against small miners
THE PHILIPPINES GOVERNMENT HAS DEPLOYED ARMED TROOPS TO THE TINY ISLAND OF SIBUYAN IN THE CENTRAL PHILIPPINES PROVINCE OF ROMBLON
The troops were under instructions to close down small scale gold mining in the private lands of Sibuyan.
Hundreds of small scale goldminers have been forced off their mine sites.
As a consequence, hundreds of families have been deprived of a means of income in an industry that has been carried on by Sibuyanons, freely and without restriction or regulation for generations.
The troops were sent to enforce a ban on small scale mining that was placed without any warning and human rights considerations by the Governor of Romblon, in a panic response to a powerful Philippines anti-mining and environmental activist media organisation.
Manila media executive Gina Lopez visited Sibuyan Island recently and skilfully whipped locals, especially local officials, into an emotional anti-mining attitude. She used psychological 'warfare' on a largely uneducated group of hundreds of locals in the township of Magdiwang, showing videos of totally unrelated mining bad practices in other parts of the Philippines.
She cited ambiguous statistics relating to what she termed 'mercury poisoning'.
She made vague promises about paying displaced miners cash as compensation for relinquishing their legitimate right to earn a living from small scale gold mining, and hinted about employment possibilities through her personal bio-diversity projects.
Similar projects, however, have already been introduced in the past in Sibuyan, but they miserably failed. In fact there is already a vast area on Sibuyan, Mt Guiting-Guiting, that has been reserved for bio-diversity projects, by virtue of Philippine Presidential Proclamation No.746, issued February 20, declaring Mt Guiting-Guiting as a Natural Park.
She used deceptive words to imply that she would use her power and influence to provide an airport on Sibuyan as a first step towards 'green eco-tourism' as an alternative provider of employment for displaced small scale gold miners.
The Mayor of the Municipality of Magdiwang showered Gina Lopez with praise for her anticipated good will towards the Sibuyan populace. He even went as far as announcing her to be an 'adoptee' of the municipality.
COMPENSATION FOR DISPLACED SMALL SCALE GOLD MINERS
Despite extensive human suffering brought about by the stoppage of all small scale gold mining activities on Sibuyan, particularly in the Municipality of Magdiwang, so far the only compensation allocated by the Provincial Government of Romblon to several hundred displaced small scale gold miners and their families amounts to approximately 180 chickens and 12 boxes of biscuits.
From Gina Lopez absolutely nothing has been supplied.
PHILIPPINES GOVT GROSSLY NEGLIGENT AND OBSESSED WITH POWER
THE PHILIPPINES GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN AWARE OF THE LEGITIMATE PRACTICE OF SMALL SCALE GOLD MINING ON SIBUYAN EVEN BEFORE AMERICAN TROOPS FIRST STARTED SMALL SCALE GOLD MINING WHILE ON R AND R ON SIBUYAN AT THE TIME OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR - THE EARLY SETTLERS, MANGYAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, WASHED GOLD FROM SAND USING A WOODEN DISH CALLED A 'DULANG'.
Small scale gold mining on Sibuyan has been carried out since that time, without restriction or regulation, as a legitimate and reliable source of income for hundreds of locals who have virtually no other means of providing anything other than food on the table from small subsistence home garden plots and a pig or two and a couple of semi-feral chickens.
Sluices and panning has been the traditional method of gold recovery for generations.
Only in the last ten or fifteen years has mercury been introduced by transient miners, mostly from the Bicol region.
The Philippines Government has been aware of the practice for its entirety.
The Philippines Government has never made any effort to restrict or regulate the use of mercury in small scale gold mining, even as recently as the passage of the two Small-Scale Mining Laws (Presidential Decree No. 1899, during the time of President Marcos, and Republic Act No. 7076 during the time of President Corazon Aquino, the mother of the present Philippine President).
The Philippines Government has never made any effort to provide education or training to small scale gold miners in the area of safe use of mercury and it has never made any effort to implement fully Republic Act No.7076, which allows and regulates small scale gold mining activities.
The Philippines Government has never made any effort to provide training or information to small scale gold miners on alternative methods of gold recovery.
The Philippines Government should be aware that the Romblon Islands (which includes Sibuyan Island) are rich in natural mercury deposits, according to its own research.
The Philippines Government did not ever made any conclusive study of mercury content in the environment prior to the advent of the use of mercury in gold recovery in small scale gold mining on Sibuyan.
The Philippines Government has not made any conclusive study of mercury in the environment recently that can be directly attributed to the use of mercury in gold recovery by small scale gold miners on Sibuyan.
The Philippines Government has pandered to anti-mining activists and has absconded its duty of care to Sibuyan citizens and has wasted taxpayer money sending armed troops to Sibuyan in an exercise of power wielding, to the damage and prejudice of the legal, economic and human rights of its people.
Under the Philippines Republican Act No. 7942, of 1995, Section 2, "All mineral resources in public and private lands within the territory and exclusive economic zone of the Republic of the Philippines are owned by the State. It shall be the responsibility of the State to promote their rational exploration, development, utilisation and conservation through the combined efforts of government and the private sector in order to enhance national growth in a way that effectively safeguards the environment and protect the rights of affected communities."
Magdiwang Municipal Councillor Jun Rocha has been trying for many years to ensure the protection of small scale gold miners, based on his knowledge of Republican Act No. 7942, and Republican Act No. 7076, otherwise known as "PEOPLE'S SMALL-SCALE MINING ACT OF 1991".
Until now his efforts have been unsuccessful, because of opposition from anti-mining groups and the lapses of responsibility of government agencies concerned.
He and the Magdiwang Small Scale Miners Association headed by Rogelio Merida are continuing in their efforts to ensure that environmentally safe small scale gold mining attains its rightful legal status according to Philippine national legislation.
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