I was supposed to leave Taft by 9 am but since I still have to attend a conference in school and I didn’t have any clothes left for last Friday, I woke up at 5:20 and left Taft while riding the LRT. I got home at around 6 am. And I immediately unpacked my belongings and took a bath. I was expecting to see my sister on the other side of the train but I found out that her class’s still at 9 am. So we went to school at 7:30. I needed to get to school at 8am but I arrived at 8:30 am. It’s okay since the Mining Conference started at 9am when it was supposed to really start at 8. Filipino time again! Anyways, I only attended the morning session from 8-12pm. Part 2 was the afternoon session from1-5pm.
Basically, the school had invited speakers informing us how Mining helps our daily lives. I didn’t buy what they kept on saying. I even felt enraged when some lawyer kept on bragging how the mining industry helps improve our GDP/Total income which consist of consumption, investment and government expenditure.
From the start, I know that the government are just manipulating the said data like what they say in news reports that, in the Philippines, the number of those marginalized people experiencing poverty are decreasing. But that’s only because the government reduced the amount of poverty threshold from, let’s say, P45 to P20. If I have with me P30 in my pocket right now, I won’t be considered “poor” since P30 > P20. But I used to be poor considering the fact that the poverty threshold used to be P45.
I was listening to the three speakers intently and I wasn’t convinced that destroying our natural resources would make our life better. Who gets the money? It isn’t the Philippines benefiting here but the foreign capitalists extracting our minerals for the said profit. In the first place, no Filipino can afford to own a large scale mining industry since, according to them, each digging process costs P3000-P8000 but the returns are enormous, like times 10 or even times 100.
Also, the Mining Business should comply with the social constraints as it is very dangerous. It should be ethical, legal, and environmental friendly. But is this environmental friendly? They say that the process of mining industry is not complete if they do not rehabilitate the place that they have dug out.
I’ve seen a TV show way back and I don’t remember if I watched it on GMA/ ABS-CBN. And I completely felt saddened and angered on how human beings especially the foreigners destroy our homeland which isn’t even theirs. One old villager who lives in Palawan from birth to present was also saddened by it. If you could only see the destruction mining brings to our homeland and the before, and after image, you can feel what I feel. Recently, there’s a mining ban going on in Palawan and South Cotabato.
Anyways, there were a lot questions that were racing through my mind and I wanted to argue with those speakers- 2 engineers from University of the Philippines, and a lawyer. They even have the guts to counter the posed questions by the students and bragged about it. Their just good at manipulating things and saying this and that but they weren’t even answering the questions during the open forum. One question that was raised was, “How much of those industries are owned by foreigners and to what extent?” It was kind of similar to what my question was. They were heating up especially the lawyer who proposed that foreign investors and the government should allocate a 50-50 budget. But in the end, after the “proposal”, he was contradicting himself.
“But will the foreigners allow to only have half the portion of their earnings?”, he said. I shook my head in disapproval.
I should have spoken up and raised some questions but I didn’t. Even though I felt like I really need to know what their motives were.
Like, is it true that most of the mining industries here in the Philippines are private and at the same time owned by foreign investors like the Xstrata Copper, Inc headquartered in Switzerland but now operating in the Philipines? So who really benefits here, the FILIPINOS or the FOREIGNERS? Are we working for them instead? Xstrata Copper also manages one Mining Company here in the Philippines and that’s the Sagittarius MIning, Inc., also known as, SMI whose 40% CONTROLLING EQUITY are owned by the Xstrata Corporation and 60% non-controlling equity are owned by Tampakan Mining Corporation. Even though the Tampakan Mining Corporation has the larger shares in terms of equity, they have nothing much to say when it involves operations and decisions.
I also learned that mining firms are divided into two- large scale companies and small scale companies. Large scale companies are those companies which comply with the accurate process of mining and with the environmental regulations whereas small scale companies are those companies which do not comply with rules and regulations. They use bombing/ explosives and they do not “rehabilitate” the site that they have worked on. They also pay smaller amount of taxes to the government compared to large scale companies. At the moment, there are a lot of mining firms who operate and consider themselves as small scale industries.
Yet when SMI, a large scale company, “submitted their Environmental Compliance Certificate in early 2012, their application was denied. The Environmental Management Bureau requested that they resubmit their application when the ban on open-pit mining contained in the South Cotabato provincial Environment Code is resolved. The provincial issue remains unresolved… While the appeal process is underway, they continue to work to advance the Project.”
The said Project involves provision of livelihood opportunities in the community. But when they say “livelihood opportunities”, they only use and employ them as blue-collar workers which aren’t even contractual which means that they do not have the privilege to acquire social benefits in return. They need human resources for their operations. Sure, they become employed but are they giving the workers the minimum wage requirement? I bet they don’t seeing how much of a capitalist they can be. How can they even sustain to work on the Project if currently, they are banned from mining?
One speaker, the guy engineer, also joked that a particular large scale mining company’s “solution” to “rehabilitation” after excavating and destroying a certain mining location in some country, is to provide water and make it a “sea hayaking” destination. So that’s why Earth continues to be engulfed by water. Why destroy the portion of land covering the Earth?
Basically, what I’m saying is that I’m not completely against mining as long as the mining industries guarantee to not completely destruct our environment especially that most of the mining industries here operating in the Philippines are owned by foreign capitalists. Once they get their hands on OUR minerals, it becomes theirs. Our country will never industrialize if we continue to let ourselves open to foreigners who intervene with our state politically, economically, and even culturally. We will never be like that of Japan or Korea if we allow to be robbed off of what is our own. Our economy will continue to remain backwards. This is what the Americans hope us to be, that is to make sure that the Philippines never industrializes even after “granting” us our freedom during 1946.
Like what the famous saying goes, “those who never learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
“We should hearken to the words of Apolinario Mabini, a message that will always be relevant for as long as colonialism or neo-colonialism exists: ‘Strive for the independence of thy country because thou alone hast real interest in its greatness and exaltation, since its independence means thy own freedom, its greatness thy own perfection, its exaltation they own glory and immortality'”.
Hi there, I just signed the online petition to save Palawan’s forests from mining and thought you might want to sign as well.
You can sign it here: http://no2mininginpalawan.com
National Geographic named Palawan as one of its top-20 destinations for 2011. It has 17 Key Biodiversity Areas and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are at risk from mining.
If we don’t do anything, the future for Palawan’s indigenous people and rare endemic species is bleak. Please sign the petition, then forward this email to some friends and ask them to do the same. We know the strength of People Power, now it’s time for Palawan Power!