LRC-Luzon Regional Office

Sunday, July 27, 2008

News Links – Commission on Human Rights - Didipio Fact Finding Mission report filing

News Links – Commission on Human Rights - Didipio Fact Finding Mission report filing

salamat ng marami din sa oxfam . . .

Sunday, July 06, 2008

LRC-KsK Supports the move of the SP of Nueva Vizcaya

24 June 2008

LRC-KsK Supports the move of the SP of Nueva Vizcaya

(as they withdraw support to the Didipio gold-copper project)

The Legal Rights & Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE-Phils.) welcomes and applaud the move of the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya as they withdraw support and oppose the Didipio gold-copper project of mining company OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. operating in the upland village of Didipio, Kasibsu, Nueva Vizcaya.

We are very pleased to hear that finally the provincial government has come to their senses and discarded the hypnotic and spellbinding dream of development and progress offered by OceanaGold mining company.

The conflict as generated by the controversies is due to the inconsistencies and often conflicting laws that are being taken advantage of by mining companies. Challenging OceanaGold’s mining operations in the last ten years encountered a lot difficulty because of varied positions taken by the different levels of the local governments of Nueva Viscaya. The eventual withdrawal of support will vindicate all the people’s organisations and anti-mining advocates who have been opposing the Didipio gold-copper project since its inception.

We ask the provincial government to take the necessary and concrete steps if they really are serious in challenging OceanaGold mining company’s operations in Didipio. The more appropriate action now is for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to formally declare a rejection of OceanaGold’s mining project by way of a resolution and therefore withdrawing the previous endorsement they rendered in 2005 that became instrumental for the mining company to have their Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) approved. This is their opportunity to actually redeem themselves from that great mistake.

We urge them to take their own legal steps against this arrogant mining company. If they do so, the provincial government in essence will unite and join the fight of Mayor Romeo Tayaban of the municipality of Kasibu , Nueva Vizcaya in asserting the right of local government units to withhold consent. The Mayor in 2006 filed a legal case against Australasia Philippines Mining Incorporated (APMI) now OceanaGold Phils., Inc. for proceeding with the mining project despite its failure to secure the consent of the Kasibu municipal government. The case now is in the Supreme Court.

By doing so, there is practically no more local government consent to the Didipio project at all levels and the social acceptability of OceanaGold mining company’s operation is now more questionably highlighted. Together with Bishop Villena, churches, peoples organisations, and individual advocates of Nueva Vizcaya they now have the big opportunity to push OceanaGold out of Didipio and further banish them out of Nueva Vizcaya.

For further questions and inquiries please contact us at +63 2 926-4409, +63 2 434-4079, +63 917-548-1674 (Ronald/Campaigns/Paralegal) or visit us at 87B Madasalin St., Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

OceanaGold Mining’s demolition of Didipio houses declared illegal

ress Release
June 19, 2008

OceanaGold Mining’s demolition of Didipio houses declared illegal

Mining company OceanaGold Phils., Inc's demolition of the indigenous peoples houses in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya is illegal.

The Regional Trial Court in Bayombong has declared this in its order saying that the OceanaGold’s act of demolition is “tainted with irregularity and contrary to law.” OceanaGold carried out its demolition activities in contravention of Didipio residents' constitutional right to property and not to be deprived thereof without due process of law.

“This means that while the case is pending, defendants OceanaGold and those acting on its behalf, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB), may not demolish the houses of all our clients,” says Atty. Grace Villanueva, lead counsel of this case, from the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC/Friends of the Earth-Phils.).

The order is a response to the complaint filed by the lawyers of LRC on behalf of 13 Ifugao households living in Barangay Didipio,municipality of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. In its petition, LRC questioned the legality of the demolition of houses in Barangay Didipio, as the mining company has not produced a special order of demolition issued by the regular courts of law; and seeks for preliminary injunction to prevent the demolition of the houses of its clients.

“This decision of the court is a welcome respite for the community members who have been opposing the large-scale mining operations of the OceanaGold in Didipio,” says Atty. Grace Villanueva. “While this decision may be a temporary relief for the Didipio families, this gives them hope in the law, that they can still be protected from unjustified taking of their properties by any other person, individual or corporations.”

OceanaGold, an Australian mining company, argued that they were losing millions of pesos every day in the delay of their operation because of the preliminary injunction issued by the court. The court, however, recognised that the injunctive order may cost losses to the mining company but it cannot allow the loss OceanaGold may inflict “in tampering with the Constitutional right of every person to due process of law for it is not quantifiable in terms of monetary value.”

As of April 2008, about 187 houses had already been demolished by the wrecking crew of the company since it started in December last year. In a fact-finding mission held in the area last month, LRC, along with the other members of the fact-finding team, found out that those whose houses have been destroyed were not paid in full, if at all, or were not paid the fair and just price of their property and the value of the damage caused them. Furthermore, the demolitions took place without a clear plan for relocation or resettlement.

The demolition activities of OceanaGold have become very aggressive, to the point of being violent. Highlighted in the mission report was the incident where a Didipio resident has been shot by the company security guard during a demolition on Black Saturday this year. Emilio Pumihic was shot at close range while he was trying to stop the demolition of a neighbor’s house, whose owner was inside taking a nap. Pumihic was hospitalised for several days for his gun shot injuries.

“Throughout these controversies besetting OceanaGold, the Secretary of the DENR has been very protective of it. We then ask Secretary Atienza why does he continue to protect a company which violates constitutional rights of the people? What is more important than the protection of people’s basic human rights?” LRC asked.

The Didipio gold-copper project, the first Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) in the country has been marred with a lot of controversies involving social acceptability and human rights violations. It also faces a string of legal challenges. The case filed by Mayor Romeo Tayaban on behalf of the municipal government of Kasibu is up for decision by the Supreme Court for bypassing the authority of the local government to give consent to the mining project. There was also the recent conflict between the OceanaGold and the provincial government of Nueva Viscaya involving the collection of local taxes.


for more info – Ronald (LRC Luzon) at, (+63)(0) 917‐548‐1674
(63 2) 926‐4409, (63 2) 434‐4079, /

Friday, May 16, 2008

Unconscionable Mining Contract

15 May 2008

Unconscionable Mining Contract

The monetary benefits of mining investments and operations in the Philippines is now being questioned as the provincial government of Nueva Viscaya has taken a bold step to stop OceanaGold mining company from its earth moving operations in Didipio for failing to pay Twenty Five Million Pesos (P25,000,000) in local taxes.

Contrary to what Secretary Atienza of the DENR has been promoting, the promised income from the mining project seems to be a mere pipe dream. That the local government of Nueva Viscaya needs to resort to legal action to collect taxes appears to be a red light signaling the great possibility that the Philippines will not benefit at all from this mining project.

The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils) has always maintained that the DENR crafted a seriously flawed mining fiscal regime (DAO 07-12). Under this department order, the state’s revenue collection from a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) is limited to (1) the contractor's corporate income tax, (2) excise tax, (3) special allowance, (4) withholding tax due from the contractor's foreign stockholders arising from dividend or interest payments to the said foreign stockholder in case of a foreign national and (5) all such other taxes, duties and fees as provided for under existing laws.

The enumerated items merely represent the “inherent” and legal right of the state to collect taxes from businesses, in exercise of its taxation and police power. These are the very same taxes collected in other types of businesses operating in the country, not necessarily involved in the exploitation and destruction of the country’s national wealth.

What has not been explicitly spelled out in the DENR policy is the nation’s share in the profits of mining operations. If the DENR equates the above tax items to represent the governments share, it sadly miscomprehends the meaning of governmental share in the exploitation of the national patrimony.

Our position and understanding is that an FTAA is a corporate undertaking done by the state in partnership with a private mining corporation and a foreign capitalist for that matter. Had it been the state that operated the mining operations, it would benefit from the profits wholesale.
Entering into a business venture, it is simply logical that the state should partake in the profits of that business venture aside from exercising its regulatory functions such as taxation.

The more questionable provision is that government’s share in the FTAA shall commence only after the FTAA contractor has fully recovered its pre-operating expenses, exploration, and development expenditures and other expenditures that may be added as part of. A case is now pending in the Supreme Court to question the unconscionable FTAA contract and its unconstitutionality.

The flawed fiscal regime is further highlighted in the case of Lafayette’s mining project in the Bikol region. The government received less than one percent of the PhP 3.6 billion worth of minerals extracted in 3 years of operation. The company has now stopped its operations.
What makes matters worse is that the natural destruction accompanying mining operations place communities at risk of severe hunger and intensified disasters. The OceanaGold Project has converted the fertile rice lands in Didipio into its mining operations and runs the risk of contaminating water sources in the agricultural provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan Valley, Isabela and Central Luzon together with the other two pending large-scale mining projects also in the same province – Royalco Phils. in Barangay Pao and FCF-MTL Metals in Barangay Runrunno.

Nueva Viscaya hosts 3 watershed areas - 2 proclaimed: Dupax Watershed Reservation (Proclamation 720) covering 425 hectares, and the Casecnan River Watershed in Dupax del Norte and Dupax del Sur, (Proclamation 136) covering 85,519 hectares , and 1 unproclaimed: Magat River watershed. These watershed areas serve approximately a total population of 400,000 including neighboring provinces such as Cagayan Valley, Isabela and northern parts of central Luzon. At least two of these watershed areas are in proximity to the mining site.

It is elementary that if these watershed areas are compromised due to contamination of the water, it will greatly affect the agriculture production in the said provinces that will contribute more to the worsening situation of our food production.

OceanaGold’s open pit mining method and tailings dam for mine waste disposal will be susceptible to seepage and collapse that will greatly affect the rivers and waters in the province. Ironically, DENR Secretary Atienza himself identified the province of Nueva Viscaya as part of the typhoon belt area.

The negative impacts of mining projects in the Philippines outweigh its envisioned benefits. You cannot find any single mining operation in the Philippines that has brought progress to local communities, only a devastated environment, and an impoverished community. The people of Marinduque can tell us their experience; Marcopper mining operations has inundated two major rivers in their province. Mayor Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa has taken the position against mining operations for clearly understanding the negative impacts.
With the recent developments, the biased positioning of Secretary Atienza for OceanaGolds operations is a complete disregard of the sentiments of the people in the province and the local communities who have been opposing the project for the adverse impacts directly felt by them. How arrogant can Secretary Atienza be in saying "they can barricade all they want".

For further questions and inquiries please contact us at +63 2 926-4409, +63 2 434-4079, +63 917-548-1674 (Ronald/Campaigns/Paralegal) or visit us at 87B Madasalin St., Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We are Hiring

Legal Rigths and Natural Resources Center, Inc. a reputable Non-Governmental Organization is seeking qualified candidates for the following positions:

Legal Coordinator (Ref: LC-NO)
Communications and Networking Officer (Ref: CNO-NO)
Lawyer who will be based in Cagayan de Oro City (Ref:RC-CdO)
Paralegal who will be based in Davao City (Ref: LPL-DvO)

We are seeking individuals with experience of working in the area of indigenous peoples, human rights and/or development and with keen understanding of the social and environmental impacts of development projects, and legal and policy environment in the Philippines. Experience in networking and coordination, policy research, and advocacy work and also of working with grassroots communities will be an advantage.

You will have a commitment to working in partnership with our stakeholders in various contexts.

The posts will require travel to communities in Luzon and Mindanao.
Applicants are requested to send their CV with an application letter to

For more information or details, you may send your inquiries to the same address.

Friday, May 09, 2008


26 March 2008

(Demolition of houses in Didipio continues)

Blood spilled on Black Saturday

Residents now fear for their lives as one community member (Emilio Pumihic) was shot and hospitalised when he tried together with other neighbours to prevent a team of demolition crew from demolishing the house of Samuel Bidang who was then taking a nap inside. Accounts from witnesses said that Pumihic was restrained by two security personnel of OceanaGold and was then shot from behind by another security guard (Whitney Dongiahon). (related article available at-

Emilio Pumihic is a descendant of Juan Pumihic, the first Barangay Captain of Didipio and also one of the first families to settle in Didipio.

In another act to intimidate anti-mining officials and residents, OceanaGold and its cohorts in Didipio harassed Councilor Eduardo Ananayo at 10 o’clock in the evening also on Black Saturday. After attending a meeting in Sitio Dinauyan he was accosted by SPO4 Noel Valdez and brought to the Community Relations Office of OceanaGold without any valid reason t do so, SPO4 Valdez is a member of the Provincial Philippine National Police assigned in Didipio supposedly to keep peace and order in the community. Councilor Ananayo in his affidavit stated that he was slapped on the face by SPO4 Valdez when he introduced himself as one of the baranggay officials in Didipio.

These unfortunate events happened on Black Saturday (where Catholics all over the world observes a week of lent to reflect on the sacrifices and crucifixion of Jesus Christ). The people of Didipio last 17 March sought Bishop Villena’s intervention to ask OceanaGold not to resume demolition activities during the holy week in respect for the people in Didipio who wanted to reflect, pray and celebrate Jesus Christ’s salvation of mankind. The people of Didipio relayed this message through Sr. Eden Orlino, SPC of the Diocesan Social Action Commission who then responded to bring this request to the Bishop.

Sr. Eden’s appeal to the mining company thru Arnel Arrojo, Site Development manager of OceanaGold was not seriously considered since what happened on Black Saturday even Mr. Arrojo gave his word to Sr. Eden that they will accept the request of the people of Didipio to observe a peaceful holy week without any demolition activity. Much worse, 200 more demolition crew arrived on the same day and a shooting incident.

Bishop of Bayombong condemns OceanaGold

Bishop Ramon Villena of the Diocese of Bayombong declared OceanaGold’s acts in demolishing the houses of Indigenous Peoples in Didipio and the shooting of Emilio Pumihic as ‘atrocious’ and ‘monstrous’. He also add that it was made even worse by the mining company’s attempt to cover up for its human rights violations. (related article available at

Ramoncito Gozar, vice-president for communications and external affairs of OceanaGold on the other hand downplayed the shooting incident and tried to discredit and put the blame on the victim by saying that Emilio Pumihic was drunk at the time and tried to engage the security forces of OceanaGold. Police officials in Didipio, however, find Gozar’s version of the incident as “incredible”.

Breakdown of Law and Order

The Baranggay Council of Didipio with the present development and incidents now happening in the community is virtually non-existent or incapacitated to protect its constituents in the face of serious human rights violations being perpetrated by OceanaGold. The council has made several appeals to the mining company to settle first with the owners of houses and farmlands before they conduct demolitions activities but it seems this appeal fell on OceanaGold’s calloused and deaf ears.

OceanaGold showed its blatant disrespect to the public authority in Didipio for what they did to Councilor Edwardo Ananayo.

Arrogant mining company

OceanaGold’s order to its contractors to “demolish now, negotiate later” expresses utter disregard for due process of law and is highly insensitive to the well-being of the Indigenous Peoples community living in Didipio, even proudly invoking their so-called rights under the Mining Act of 1995.

We reiterate our call on all justice organisations, human rights and indigenous peoples advocates to extend support and solidarity to the Indigenous Peoples in Didipio. WE ASK YOU TO:

1. Be part of the Fact Finding Mission on 1-4 April 2008 in Didipio, to be spearheaded by LRC-KsK, Philrights, TFDP, Amnesty International, Alyansa Tigil Mina and to be joined by other foreign participants from Piplinks. You may contact LRC-KsK - +632 926 4409, TFDP National Office +632 437 8054, Alyansa Tigil Mina - +632 426 6740, Philrights - +632 433 1714;

2. Help the people of Didipio to defend themselves against the onslaught of OceanaGold and demand for the prosecution of the security guard who shot Emilio Pumihic;

3. Extend financial assistance for the legal defence fund, as the mining company will surely resort to take advantage of its huge resources to take the resisting community to the tedious and very expensive legal cases in courts, as what other mining affected communities are experiencing now and even before;

4. Increase awareness and disseminate information of the real situation in Didipio especially with OceanaGold investors and shareholders.
5. We call on all justice and human rights advocates and organizations to join hands with us in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Didipio in Nueva Viscaya, Philippines. Let us call to IMMEDIATELY INVESTIGATE and ACT on the shooting of Emilio Pumihic and STOP THE VIOLENCE in DIDIPIO! Let us call on OceanaGold mining company to RESPECT Indigenous and Peoples RIGHTS and to abide, observe and practice good business etiquettes and standards. Write URGENT LETTER of CONCERN to the following:

1. H. E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Tel: +632.564.1451 to 80
Cell: +63.919.898.4622 / +63.917.839.8462
Email: /

2. Hon. Purificacion V. Quisumbing
Chairperson, Philippine Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Blg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City,Philippines
Tel: 928.5655/926.6188
Fax: +632.929.0102

3. Sec. Jose L. Atienza Jr
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Central Office, Visayas Avenue
Diliman, 1100, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: 928.06.91 to 93 loc. 2003, 2008

4. OcenaGold Corporation
a. Australia
Stephen Orr – Chief Executive Officer
Corporate Office
Level 5, 250 Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia
Tel: +61.3.9656.5300
Fax: +61.3.9656.5333

b. Australia
James E. Askew-Chairman
Corporate Office
Level 5, 250 Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia
Tel: +61.3.9656.5300
Fax: +61.3.9656.5333

c. Philippines
Jose P. Leviste
2nd Floor, CJV Building
108 Aguirre Street, Legaspi Village
1229 Makati City, Philippines
Tel: +6.32.8926643
Fax: +6.32.892.8399

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lafayette Mining seeking short-term financing for Rapu-Rapu

SYDNEY - Australian-listed Lafayette Mining Ltd. said on Thursday it had asked key stakeholders for short-term financial support to ensure the sustainability of its Rapu Rapu mine in the Philippines.

In requesting a temporary halt in the trading of its shares, Lafayette said it was awaiting a response from the stakeholders.

"This support is considered critical to allow the company time to explore its previously announced need to restructure its project debt and hedging obligations with the aim of ensuring the financial sustainability of the Rapu Rapu project," Lafayette said in a statement.

Rapu Rapu, located 350 kilometres (222 miles) southeast of the Philippine capital Manila, was the first foreign-owned mine to open in the country after the Supreme Court in December 2004 upheld a law allowing full foreign ownership of local mining projects.

However, it has been beset by problems, having been forced to close after cyanide spills in October 2005, and was further delayed by typhoon damage in late 2006. - Reuters

GDP grows 7.5% in 2nd quarter, highest in 20 years


The Philippine economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), posted an impressive growth of 7.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, fuelled by industry and services sectors, the highest quarterly growth rate in 20 years.

"It is heartening to note the sustained strong performance of the economy in the second quarter, exceeding the forecasts by both NEDA and private firms," said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos.

Gross national product (GNP) in the second quarter rose by 8.3 percent. GDP in the first semester of 2007 registered a strong 7.3 percent growth after an updated first quarter growth rate of 7.1 percent.

"The upbeat response of productive sectors further reinforced our macroeconomic fundamentals. While agriculture grew moderately at 3.9 percent, the distinct pick up in industry (8 percent) and services (8.4 percent) boosted the economy," said Santos.

The second quarter growth also reflects the continued stronger demand for labor, pushing the unemployment rate lower to 7.4 percent in the April labor force survey from 8.2 percent the year before.

On the demand-side, growth was stimulated by household and government consumption, which expanded by 6.0 and 13.5 percent, respectively.

Santos said capital formation also grew robustly at 8.2 percent compared to the 1.5 percent growth recorded in the same period last year. Merchandise exports however, slowed down to 5.9 percent from its double digit growth of 21.7 percent in the same period in 2006.

Palay production rose by 4.4 percent which remained healthy on account of increases in area harvested due to better irrigation and policy interventions such as the GMA rice program of the agriculture department. High value crops, fishery and forestry also supported the sector’s growth.

From a lackluster performance last year, the mining and quarrying sector sustained its growth in the first quarter.

Quarrying also got a boost from the surge in construction on account of the property market boom and strong growth in public construction (39.6 percent).

Almost all services subsectors have sustained growth, led by finance (11.8 percent), transportation, communication and storage (9.8 percent), private services (8.6 percent) and trade (8.4 percent).

Santos said the country’s sound macroeconomic fundamentals and strong corporate profits drove up the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEI).

He noted that growth was seen as well in the higher earnings of banks and other financial services providers. Affordable airfares and intensive marketing promotions continued to prop up the air transport sector.

Santos is confident that NEDA’s full year official target of 6.1-6.7 percent GDP growth is quite attainable, notwithstanding some uncertainties.

On the external front, the continued weakness of the US economy and volatile oil prices continue to pose downside risks.

However, the steady economic expansion in Europe and Japan , as well as the fairly strong performance of other Asian economies, are positive developments, Santos said.

On the domestic front, Santos warned that the effects of the prolonged dryspell may drag the performance of agriculture in the second half.

"All these seem to say that the macroeconomic reforms implemented have been effective so far. With this positive development, we cannot afford to be complacent. We have to continually raise the bar to ensure the economy’s solid growth, so that economic gains increasingly benefit the Filipino people," said Santos.

Santos said that the government must push for policies to sustain macroeconomic stability, modernize agriculture and effectively transform it into agribusiness, strengthen small enterprises, expand export markets, protect our environment, and realign the national budget to spend more on social services, particularly education and health.