Mendiola March to press Malacanang against mining

Environmental groups spearheaded by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) finished off their week-long anti-mining solidarity activity on Thursday, September 18 with an estimate of 1000 advocates marching from Plaza Miranda to Mendiola.

The groups emphasized their message to Malacanang that mining is a destructive industry and recalled their messages during the “Run For Life No TO Mining” run and “Parada ng Mga Sakuna”.  Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB)  was also once again highlighted as the advocates screamed for the passage of the bill in Congress.

“Our numbers are not just mere numbers” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.

“The sea of environmental advocates, human rights defenders, political organizations, civil society organizations and peoples organizations represent our unwavering spirit to protect our environment against the destructive impacts of the mining industry.” He added.

Among the organizations that supported ATM over the past week were AKBAYAN partylist, Aniban ng Manggagawang sa Agirkultura (AMA), Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), SANLAKAS, SENTRO, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), SOS-Yamang Bayan, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and KPML.

“Our calls for environmental protection and human rights assertion will never falter.” Said Fr, Oli Castor of PMPI.

“Though we had the misfortune of losing brothers and sisters in this battle against corporate greed and impunity, the memory of Juvy Capion, her two sons, and many other environmental advocates who were killed, will always serve as a reminder on why we will keep on fighting.” Added Fr. Castor.

A local organization opposing mining in Cagayan province joined the protest, echoing ATM’s demands. Alliance for Buguey Committed for Development Association (ALBUCODA) headed by Rosbin Martin has led a campaign that led to the suspension of black-sand mining in the town of Buguey, Cagayan.

Martin was joined by leaders of two other peoples organizations – Aparrianos Movement for the Conservation and Environmental Protection (AMCEP) and Concerned Laloeno Against Illegal Mining (CLAIM) – both also from Cagayan, have lodged complaints at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau against black-sand mining.

“We are one with ATM in this vision of putting those who have wronged our environment with their viscous and destructive mining operations to be put to a stop once and for all.

“As someone who has experienced the first-hand adverse effects of mining, it has been a personal vow to ensure that our children and our children’s children will still be able to enjoy a safe and bountiful earth.” said Martin.

Other mining-affected areas from Nueva Viscaya, Romblon, Leyte, Cagayan, Cantilan and Zambales also joined the solidarity protest of the environmental groups by performing local solidarity actions in their respective areas.

In a closing message, Garganera reiterated that “there is no future in mining for the Filipinos if the Mining Act of 1995 and current practices will prevail.” He also called on the government to “Stop the plunder, Scrap the Philippine Mining of 1995, enact the Alternative Minerals Management Bill, and uphold human rights.”

“For those who think that our advocacies end here today, I am afraid that they are sadly mistaken. ATM will continue to help, uphold and defend mining-affected areas until the plunder, the abuse and the violations have stopped.” concluded Garganera.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB.

Tuna Workers Speak on the Recently Concluded Tuna Congress

“It felt like the Tuna Congress is for everyone except the people who catch and process tuna!” This is the overall assessment of Samahang United Workers of Citra Mina Group of Companies Union (UWCMGCU) on the recently concluded National Tuna Congress as expressed by its president Jumary Arevalo.

The workers find it highly paradoxical that the Tuna Congress talked about “shared resources” and yet disregarded the most important resource of the tuna industry – its workers. “What is the tuna industry without the tuna workers?,” Arevalo asserted.

“The worst part is that the Tuna Congress not only excluded us – the workers – in its agenda, it even tried to censor all our messages,” Arevalo complained.

He said that the union’s flyers were confiscated inside and outside the congress venue, while the management of Citra Mina had a wide and exclusive space for its PR campaign and all the freedom to distribute anti-union leaflets. Meanwhile, at least 30 ‘Justice for Citra Mina’ banners that the union put up in various public places around the city were stolen. Even the billboard that was installed at the Matutum Hotel was taken down.

“We are happy to note that that our city mayor is committed to put our billboard back,” Arevalo said.

He also said that the union’s float, which was officially admitted as Float #4, was allowed at the beginning but was forbidden to continue up to the culmination point because it carried the message of ‘Justice for Citra Mina Workers’. The program organizer was too afraid to admit who gave the order to detain the union’s float. The union can only suspect that the order came from Mr. Joaquin T. Lu. After all, Citra Mina is the one affected by our message for justice.

“All these repressive actions was designed to silence us,” Arevalo declared.

However, Mr. Joaquin T. Lu’s overreaction and the black propaganda he hurled against the two global unions, International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF) and International Transport Workers Union (ITF), backfired. His actions not only paved the way for the workers’ concerns to be the “talk of the town”, he also exposed Citra Mina’s contempt for workers’ fundamental right to organize and collectively bargain.

Citra Mina even fabricated a story to the media that the NCMB has given a return-to-work order to the dismissed workers of Citra Mina. The NCMB, as mediation body, does not give orders. Obviously, this is another botched PR campaign to divert people’s attention from the real issues and impress the public that it is not violating the human rights of its workers.

In the end, the solution to this problem is just very simple. And the management can easily resolve the problem anytime. All it has to do is correct its wrongdoing by recognizing the union and reinstating all the illegally dismissed workers with full back wages.

“We are seriously worried that if this issue will take longer and violations of human rights continue in Citra Mina, the whole tuna industry of this city could be affected,” Arevalo cautioned. “We do not want this to happen. If it does, Citra Mina is the only one to blame,” he added.

The union called on all the people, especially the concerned government agencies and tuna industry employers association, to convince Mr. Joaquin T. Lu to stop delaying the resolution of this problem.

Citra Mina’s Human Right Violations Exposed During the Tuna Congress

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Citra Mina workers in lie-in rally

Today, hundreds of striking Citra Mina workers trooped to the venue of the 16th Tuna Congress to dramatize their plight and to reiterate the pressing need for the erring company to address its continuing human rights violation.

Bearing “Justice for Citra Mina” banner and chanting, “because of Citra Mina, our families are hungry,” the workers conducted a die-in right outside the hall where the congress is being held.

“We find it ironic for Joaquin T. Lu to chair this year’s Tuna Congress whose theme is ‘Shared Resources, Shared Responsibility’ when his company is not even acting responsibly towards us – its workers,” Jumary Arevalo, president of the Samang United Workers of Citra Mina Group of Companies Union (UWCMGCU), said.

Joaquin T. Lu is the Chairman Emeritus of Citra Mina Group of Companies whose human rights record is now under scrutiny at the global level.

“Let’s make one thing clear, the issue in Citra Mina is the grave human rights violation it caused when it sacked me and 237 of my fellow workers in 2013 when we formed our union,” Arevalo said.

“The company’s offer to reinstate 12 of us is nothing but a cheap PR campaign. The only acceptable solution is for the company to recognize our union and to reinstate with full back wages all of us who are still interested to work,” Arevalo added

The right to self-organization is protected under the Philippine Constitution, ILO Core Convention and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Citra Mina Group of Companies has been very artful in shifting its operations from one company to another in order to avoid formation of workers’ unions, which only proves that the company’s anti-union attitude is systematic.

“Worse, Citra Mina Group of Companies now resorts to blaming the international labor community for all its woes,” Arevalo said. “Truth is, Citra Mina is now hitting the IUF and the ITF in an attempt discredit them as they are the ones helping us expose the human rights violations of the company,” he added.

The International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) are global union federations with millions members around the world.

UWCMGCU has consistently warned that Citra Mina’s human rights violations could potentially damage not just the reputation of the company but of the entire tuna industry of the country. “Citra Mina’s uncooperative attitude is starting to be a liability of the entire industry,” Arevalo said.

COLLECTIVE STATEMENT ON THE COMMEMORATION OF THE MARIKANA MASSACRE

“We are all Marikana.”

This is the call of the South African miners, workers, activists, as they commemorate the brutal killing of 34 miners who were in the picket line in the hills of Marikana, South Africa, two years ago. The slain miners were part of the 3,000 who walked out of their jobs to demand for wage increase from the Lonmin Mines. This was considered as the worst act of police brutality since the dawn of democracy in South Africa.

It was on the 16th of August 2012, when thousands of miners who were converging at a hill or koppie at the Lonmin Mine were fired at by the police. Recent evidence presented to the Marikana Commission showed that the firing was unprovoked. On site, there were 34 miners killed, and scores were injured. But the number of casualties increased even after, as the crackdown on the strikers and supporters went on. News reports in South Africa said that “people died, violently, before and after that date” http://marikana.mg.co.za/The Marikana Commission, which was convened to investigate the killings, has not put any police or government official implicated in the murders, to prison.

As daughters and sons lost their fathers, and women were widowed, and mothers still grieved for their sons, Lonmin Chief Executive announced that after two years since the Marikana massacre, and after successive workers strikes, “we are making good and steady progress in terms of our plans to return to full production. . . I am pleased with the enthusiasm in our management and all employees to the re-building of our relationships and operational credibility.”

Lonmin Platinum Mines in South Africa has Glencore Xstrata, a Swiss transnational corporation, as one of its major shareholders. Glencore Xstrata is very familiar with us here in the Philippines, as it is the majority shareholder of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), the holder of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) in the gold mines in Tampakan, South Cotabato. Glencore Xstrata is very familiar too with incidents of violence against community members. The infamous Tampakan Massacre happened within its mining concession, involving the family of known anti-mining B’laan tribal leader. The brutal killing of Juvy Capion, and her two children, by the military in October 18, 2012, happened the same year that the Marikana Massacre happened. And more B’laans who continued to oppose the gold mining in their ancestral domains, continued to be killed violently, even after the massacre.

Two years after the massacre, the SMI announced that the Tampakan gold project, “despite its delays and challenges, remains on track.” Meanwhile, the court martial which was conducting the inquiry about the killings has not put any of the 21 soldiers who raided the Capion house, in jail.

The parallelisms are chilling. Even more so are the killings, the human rights abuses, and the impunity that the perpetrators enjoy. These mining companies continue to conduct their business as usual, with somechallenges, and delays, coddled by the national government because of the so-called contributions to the economy. South Africa boasts of the largest platinum deposits in the world. The Philippines is ranked as the 3rd in having the largest deposit gold. That is why some of the biggest mining companies in the world such as Glencore Xstrata are present in these countries. They come, they ravage, they enrich themselves, and leave the peoples hungry, landless, poorer, orphaned, widowed, and grieving for their killed daughters and sons. South Africa and the Philippines are both rich in mineral resources. Yet these countries are homes to the poorest of the poor people.

Today, we remember the killings in Marikana. We condemn the human rights abuses by the corporations against poor communities. We demand justice for the miners who were killed for asking what were owed to them – just wage and housing. We also demand justice for the Capions, and for the 25 of community leaders and activists who were killed under the Aquino administration, for standing up for their rights against large scale mining. We call for an international binding treaty that will make corporations accountable to human rights abuses, and break impunity.

Today, we affirm our continuing support to the struggles of the miners in Marikana, and the communities who oppose the encroachment of SMI and other mining companies into their lands, and in their lives.

LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)

Philippine Human Rights Advocate (PAHRA)

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)

SENTRO ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)

Focus on the Global South

Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. 

CSOs cry for justice for Marikana Massacre victims

IMG_20140815_110108In solidarity with the Marikana Global Day Of Remembrance on August 16, social movements and Civil Society Oganizations (CSO) staged a protest in front of Glencore’s office in Ortigas to commemorate the brutal killing of 34 protesting miners who worked for Lonmin Platinum Mines, in Marikana South Africa. (http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/marikana-massacre-16-august-2012)

Glencore, a Swiss Transnational Corporation (TNC) is a major stakeholder of Lonmin Platinum Mines and has a mining project in, Tampakan, South Cotabato.

“We are one with the people of Marikana in remembering our brothers and sisters in South Africa whose fates have fallen ill to the dire reality of poverty and unjust labor systems and practices.” Said Josua Mata, Secertary General of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO).

“Though Marikana is miles away from the Philippines, it is not a far reality from our labor forces’ situation if we let our guards down and let capitalism oppress our rights as a work force.” Mata added.

SENTRO, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Philippine Miserior Partnership Incorporated (PMPI), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Focus on the Global South, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) and Indigenous Women Group LILAK spearheaded the rally which began in ADB Avenue to Emarald Avenue, Ortigas.

The groups performed an awarding ceremony and recognized Glencore as a World-Class Human Rights Abuser and put crime scene tapes around the building.

“ The degradation of our environment and the rampant human rights abuse caused by the mining companies, in this case Glencore and Lonmin, has turned our world into a big crime scene.” Said Fr. Oli Castor of PMPI.

“Until when should we keep our silence to their atrocities? Until when should we let them destroy mother nature? We should not wait until they have extracted everything that they can from the earth and until another Marikina or Tampakan incident happen.” He added.

Recently, Glencore was in hot water when five (5) countries including the Philippines presented cases of human rights abuse against the mining company in the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Mining areas are really hot spots for human rights abuses and violations. Time and again we have been witnessed to this and without the state’s recognition of this reality, things are just going to get worse.” Said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP.

Amistad also said that, “What we need is a system that serves justice and not impunity of abusive and greedy transnational corporations. Whether in Marikana in South Africa or in Tampakan in South Cotabato, the government should be pro-people.”

On June 26, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council has approved the initiation of an international legally binding treaty that will hold TNCs accountable to corporate human rights abuse. (http://alyansatigilmina.net/2014/07/15/atm-press-release-csos-celebrate-hr-resolution-of-unhrc-urges-the-ph-government-to-follow-through/)

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator stressed the importance of such legally binding treaty to stop human rights abuses and violations committed by TNCs in different parts of the world.

“One of the reasons why TNCs are shamefully courageous on committing human rights abuses is the lack of a definitive and thoroughly monitored and implemented legally binding rules and regulations to protect the people, especially the work force.

“This has also become a gateway of human rights violations of states that prioritize capitalists instead of their people. This is what happened to Marikana, this is what’s happening to Tampakan. If we want justice for them, and for all the victims of human rights abuse and violations, we need to start setting a higher international standard to make this happen.” asserted Garganera.

On August 16, Saturday, the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel will also join the commemoration of the Marikana Global Day of Remembrance. A film showing of the Marikana massacre documentary Miners Shot Down (http://www.minersshotdown.co.za/) will be held at the Tampakan Parish to be followed by a candle lighting action.

SAC Marbel is a network of Alyansa Tigil Mina and the leading local organization opposing the operations of Glencore in Tampakan. It is also a member of the Tampakan Forum, an alliance convened by PMPI that works on mining and human rights issues in the area.