I. Exordium (opening)
“Where you stand on this issue is determined by the question: do you love this country? If you do, you’ll fight for it..” “Mining is a search-and-destroy mission.”
Member of the Board of Judges, my worthy opponents, ladies and gentlemen, Good afternoon.
According to Meriam-Webster’s Dictionary, mining is the excavation of materials from the Earth’s crust, including those of organic origin, such as coal and petroleum. Modern mining is costly and complicated. First, a mineral vein that can likely produce enough of the desired substance to justify the cost of extraction must be located. Then the size of the vein or deposit is determined, and mining engineers decide the best way to mine it. Most of the world’s yearly mineral production is extracted by surface mining, which includes open-pit mining, strip mining, and quarrying. For ore bodies that lie a considerable distance below the surface, underground mining must be considered. In both techniques, excavating and extracting mineral substances involve costly combinations of drilling, blasting, hoisting, and hauling, as well as measures for health and safety and reduction of environmental impact.
IV. Team Split
I shall discuss the Necessity aspect while my team mate, 2nd speaker shall discuss the Beneficiality and the 3rd speaker shall discuss the Practicability aspect of the proposition.
V. Argument I
VI. Argument II
VII. Argument III
Haribon Foundation features women in the book “STORIES from the MINES of struggle, sisterhood and solidarity” released by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM); these are the women “who continue to campaign for human dignity, biodiversity conservation and sustainable communities”.
Natividad Nagutom or Naty, 61, is a resident of Barangay Magapua, Mogpog in Marinduque. She is married to Julio Nagutom and a mother of eight children. She is a member of Marinduque Council for Environmental Concern (MACEC) for over 13 years. Now, she is the chairman of MACEC chapter in their barangay. Her involvement in MACEC had developed her to become a tough advocate of human rights and a safe and peaceful community. Like most members of MACEC, Naty has her own share of struggles with the impact of mining in their town. In 1993, the Maguila-guila Siltation Dam of Marcopper Mining Corporation collapsed and caused a flash flood that gushed to the Mogpog River. The heavy surge of water and mine spill had shaken their house and almost drowned them to death. Naty and her husband tied themselves with their eight children, so that they can support each other and avoid drowning.
That traumatic experience drove her to be involved in the campaign against mining in their community and the entire province. She actively participated in many seminars, trainings, and mobilizations in and out of the province which are usually sponsored by MACEC. With support from MACEC and other organization, she took the lead in filing the case against Marcopper Mining Corporation.
In 2005, she attended a Mining Conference in Baguio City organized by Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center. In the conference, she shared her experience during the 1993 flash flood and her contributions to the anti-mining actions. The participants felt her struggle; almost all of them cried after realizing that they were not alone in the fight for justice. That experience made her an even stronger advocate.
Her integrity was challenged by the attempts of mining company to buy off her stand and discontinue. But she never thought of withdrawing the case even though sometimes it frustrates her to think that it is moving slow.
But they cherish victories and milestones in their campaign—the 50-year mining moratorium in the province is one. To Naty, mining is a destructive industry that causes people to live in fear and exposes them to so much threat. For her, mining has no place now in Mogpog and in the entire province of Marinduque. THE IMPACTS OF MINING IN THE PHILIPPINES
The problem of the issue is the negative environmental and health impact of mining. Statement of Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, 1998. Mining poses tremendous risks to life and limb, not only to miners but to the community as well. Countless accidents have happened and have affected thousands of miners in our country, directly or indirectly caused by hazardous mining operations. There is a very high social cost of mining and the impact on the society is immeasurable.
Occupational health hazards posed by mining to workers are exposure to intense heat, poor ventilation, vibration, dust, fumes, repetitive stress injury (RSI), intense noise, manual handling (e.g. lifting) of heavy machinery and biological and chemical hazards.
Due to the nature of underground mining, miners are constantly exposed to intense heat while hydration is very limited. Miners usually have fluid and salt deficiency due to constant sweating, increased stress on the heart, heat stroke, opacity of the lens and reduced fertility due to high heat. Poor ventilation robs the body of needed oxygen causing the brain to malfunction and leads to many deaths especially in underground operations.
Vibration on the other hand can cause permanent damage to bones and vibration syndrome or “dead finger” syndrome can lead to gangrene in the hands and fingers. It can also cause digestive problems due to constant shaking of the internal organs, heart problems and disruption of the nervous system.
Mines exposes workers to different types of airborne particulates, making them vulnerable to systemic toxic effects due to the absorption of lead, manganese, cadmium, zinc and other toxic material.
Fumes are emitted by chemicals being used or by the machines being employed during mining operations. Coupled with poor ventilation, this can trigger accidents and cause death to workers. RSI being a soft-tissue disorder is caused by overloading of particular muscle group from repetitive use or maintenance of constrained postures. Miners who suffer from RSI complain of weakness of the affected muscles, heaviness, “pins and needles” sensation and numbness.
Noise or irritating and hazardous sound can cause hearing impairment and/or disrupt body functions like blood circulation and hormone imbalance. Deafness and hearing loss can become irreversible and other non-auditory effects are increased blood pressure and peptic ulcer due to increased gastrointestinal motility.
Manual lifting of materials causes back troubles leading to acute pain. A large percentage of the workers suffer sooner or later from this disorder caused by their type of work. Because most mines in the Philippines extract gold, the use of sodium cyanide for leaching gold from finely ground ore is frequent. The use of liquid mercury to create gold-amalgam is also wide-spread. Cyanide blocks the transfer of oxygen from the blood to the body tissues. Signs of acute poisoning include rapid breathing, gasping, tremors, convulsions and death. Effects of sub lethal poisoning include headache, dizziness and thyroid enlargement.
A Fact-Finding Team composed of human rights and environmental experts from the United Kingdom which looked into the impact of mining on the environment and peoples’ livelihoods in the Philippines highlighted the occurrence of mining-related human rights abuses affecting local communities especially indigenous people; extrajudicial killings of persons protesting against mining; corruption in the mining sector; political pressure on the judiciary resulting in pro-mining decisions; and environmental impacts.
The team observed that the record of mining companies with regard to environmental protection, disasters and post-mining clean-up in the Philippines is widely acknowledged, even with the government, to be very poor. As of 2003, there had been at least 16 serious tailing dam failures in the preceding 20 years and about 800 abandoned mine sites have not been cleaned up. Clean-up costs are estimated in billions of dollars and damage will never be fully reversed.
It warned that water contamination from mining poses one of the top three ecological security threats in the world. Many mining applications in the Philippines are in water catchment areas close to the sea, and pose major threat to valuable marine resources. The severe pollution of the Taft river system in Eastern Samar as a result of the mining activities in Bagacay is a vivid example.
The report also emphasized the very high geo-hazard risks in the Philippines. In the Philippines, over half of the active mining concessions and two-thirds of exploratory concessions are located in areas of high seismic risk where earthquakes are likely.
The Philippines is considered as the hottest hotspot in the world in terms of threats to its mega diverse biodiversity. Thus there is an urgent need to properly manage its natural resources. It is estimated that 37% of Philippine forests may be exposed to new mining.
We have to be concern with the past experiences where human rights were disregarded in pursuit of the mining operations. Likewise, our country is facing with the diminishing and restricted natural resources. Our government may be in need of revenue, but sacrificing the environmental management, such as the agricultural land, water and forests, which are more essential, sustainable and economically practicable.
The exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources contend with the present day realities of global warming, pollution, and food shortages. One thing to consider is the dangers posed by earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions. Protecting the environment is avoiding risk and disaster; hence the acts of provincial board members are laudable.
The bill in Congress banning all mining exploration and operation in Carigara Bay shows how Leyte 2nd district Representative (Rep.) Sergio Apostol, principal authored, with Leyte 3rd district Rep. Andres Salvacion and Biliran lone district Rep. Rogelio Espina, co-authors, seriously are concerned with the lives of the people and to protect the environment.
Sangguniang Panlalawigan action on mining ventures in the province show they are not sleeping on their jobs. Their concern on the effect of mining is a great service to humanity, especially for Leyteños. A negative impact on the environment, not only during its operations, but will continue even after long years of its cessation. Thus, the vital action of the government either from the national or local authorities imposing regulations to moderate the negative effect of mining in a locality is necessary.
Our country has extremely poor mining reputation compared from other parts of the world. Abandoned mines and even those still operating have affected the livelihoods of thousands of lesser fortunate Filipinos. Mining has a negative effect for Filipino source of livelihood.
In the case of the farmers in MacArthur wherein Leyte 2nd district Board Member Anlie Apostol is alarmed, because the Nicua Mining Corporation’s mining award may be against the spirit of the Agrarian Reform Law. Some 40 hectares were bought with option for the farmers to buy back the land may have violated the provision that the farmer-beneficiary could not sell the land within 25 years.
Unless the land is no longer productive and approved by the Department of Agrarian Reform in accordance with the rules in conversion or exemption. At present we have some 800 abandoned mines in the country that have caused immense environmental damage. Some of which have records of human rights abuses. Abandoned mines have left the affected residents to undergo economic difficulties. How long will Nicua operates the mining?
It is worthy to note that some mining companies have failed to comply with national law and international standards, according to Clare Short, a member of parliament from Birmingham, United Kingdom. As the stand taken by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) when they publicly opposed the 1995 Mining Act.
Leyte 1st district Board Member Roque Tiu is correct in his contention that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), and the Provincial Government of Leyte are not in contradiction over the Mining Act and the Local Government Code (LGC). It is true that licenses for mining operation is issued by the national government, however, the LGC provides:
“Section 27. – Prior Consultations Required. – No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Section 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the Sanggunian concerned is obtained. Provided that occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
“Section 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of /Ecological Balance.- It shall be the duty of every national agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorizing of involved in the planning and implementation of any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of cropland, rangeland, or forest cover, and extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, nongovernmental organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects thereof.”
In one of the rulings of the Supreme Court, it states: “Congress introduced Sections 26 and 27 in the Local Government Code to emphasize the legislative concern “for the maintenance of a sound ecology and clean environment.” These provisions require every national government agency or government-owned and controlled corporation to hold prior consultations with the local government unit concerned and to secure the prior approval of its sanggunian before implementing “any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of cropland, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant species.”