Category Archives: Environment Destruction

Gloria Capitan: Killed for Upholding the Right to a Healthy Environment

gloiacapitan

Gloria Capitan

Faced with the livelihood, environmental, and health-related dangers posed by an open coal stockpile in Barangay Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan, the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin (SNML) mounted a campaign against Limay Bulk Handling Terminal Inc. At the helm of the campaign was Ka Gloria Capitan: a 57-year-old grandmother, environmental activist, and President of the SNML. With the children of her community in mind, she passionately fought for the human right to a healthy environment.

SNML has already filed a petition to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the local government and the CHR regarding the issue. They have also filed a complaint against the local government, who now has a case with the Ombudsman.

After months of sacrifice, devoting her time to the grueling struggle against the open coal stockpiles, the evening of July 1, 2016 saw the death of Gloria Capitan – a mere few hours after the inauguration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Shot by an unidentified man and died en route to a hospital, she is the first non-drug-related victim of extra judicial killing (EJK) under President Duterte’s administration.

The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) strongly condemns the atrocious death of Gloria Capitan. Her death is a reflection of the blatant disregard for human rights that has plagued the country, the culture of death and reprisal by those who have power. SENTRO calls for a swift and thorough investigation on the incident, and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and their masterminds.

SENTRO holds the Local Government Officials and Units of Barangay Lucanin, of Mariveles, and of Bataan accountable for allowing the operation of an open coal stockpile near people’s communities, contributing to the degradation of the environment and of people’s health.

SENTRO also holds accountable the Limay Bulk Handling Terminal Inc. and Seafront Shipyard and Port Terminal Services, which apparently owns the former, for continuing to pursue profits at the expense of people’s health, given documentation of an increase in the number of residents of Barangay Lucanin afflicted with skin diseases and upper respiratory ailments.

SENTRO calls on President Duterte to stop the coal mining operations, the building of coal power plants, and other related activities in order to protect the rights and welfare of people and environment. Furthermore, SENTRO calls on the President, whose statements encouraging “killings”, to halt the horrendous wave of EJKs.

Gloria Capitan’s and her organizations’ bravery in the face of tremendous adversity is a feat worth applauding. Her death, however, is a threat to human rights defenders in this country.

JUSTICE FOR GLORIA CAPITAN!
FIGHT AGAINST EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS!
FIGHT AGAINST COAL!
FIGHT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS!

Aquino’s Sona report: Conveniently selected; eluding realities

FAILED. A grade given by SENTRO workers to Pres Aquino for failing to address the workers' needs

FAILED. A grade given by SENTRO workers to Pres. Aquino for failing to address the workers’ plight

GOODBYE P-Noy. Enjoy your retirement from the presidency.

But how about the workers and the vast majority of citizens you will leave behind who remain excluded from the much vaunted economic growth that your administration has supposedly achieved after almost six years in power? How about the proposed bills for various social programs – especially the Security of Tenure (SOT) and the Freedom of Information (FOI) bills – that would ensure the rights of the underprivileged as well as strengthen government transparency and accountability, but which Malacañang and Congress have continued to ignore?

Your economic team has trumpeted that your government has posted the highest five-year average hike in the gross domestic product during the past four decades, when the mean annual growth rate of 6.3 percent was registered from 2010 to 2014, one of the biggest in Asia. If the economy grows to at least 7 percent this year, it would also be the fastest six-year GDP average since the 1950s. Likewise, under your helm the Philippines has been granted recognitions by local and international pro-business institutions for its rising “growth” and “competitiveness,” including the much coveted global investment ratings.

However, reality from the ground attests that poverty is still pervasive if not worsening despite the “growths” and the cosmetic solutions to it, like the conditional cash transfer (CCT) dole-out under the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program). The enormous wealth of the few top richest Filipinos included in the Forbes’ super rich list as well as the top Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed firms and the country’s Top 1000 corporations have further soared to hundreds of billions and tens of trillions of pesos – amid the hand-to-mouth existence of many Filipino families and the starvation wages of millions of Filipino workers. In fact, the mandated minimum wages are practically miserable to sustain a decent life; for instance, the NCR’s basic daily pay, the nation’s highest, has actually rose (real value) by a mere P17 or less than 5 percent since the start of Aquino’s term. We’re still not talking here of the yet rampant non-compliance of minimum wages and other labor standards.

Likewise, even the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), an international forecasting and advisory body to business groups, admitted that in spite of the rapid economic growth in the Philippines in the past years, the poverty rate would remain high due to the unabated and sharp income divide between the few rich and the majority poor, thus the country “will remain one of Southeast Asia’s poorest economies, with a lower level of GDP per head (merely $2,843 at market exchange rates) than the majority of the region’s other major economies.”

Your labor, economic and statistics team has boasted that the unemployment rate last year has substantially dropped to 6.8 percent, purportedly the lowest in 10 years. Really? But what’s the real score here? This preposterous claim has to be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, 66 percent of the jobs generated in 2013 to 2014 are either self-employed or own-account workers (38 percent) or working without pay in own family-operated business or farm (28 percent). Underutilized workers, on the other hand, or the unemployed and underemployed have been cut by only by over 149,000 and thus remain a high of 27 percent of the labor force. These are hardly “decent” jobs at all or those with fair wages and benefits and with security of tenure.

An independent research institution also disclosed that last year the ranks of jobless Filipinos have likely risen by at least 100,000, the underemployed by at least a million, and part-time workers by at least 1.5 million. In 2014 there were no less than 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed or a total of 12.2 million people without jobs or with precarious jobs, which mirrors the deteriorating job insecurity and contractualization.

These facts and figures revolve only in the income and employment areas that were heavily tampered with by Aquino and his speechwriters in his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) yesterday. But these areas effectively spell the present adversities and the bleak future being faced by the Filipino people – as long as neoliberal economic programs remain imposed in the country, and as long as the elites and their minions continue to rule and rob us.

Mendiola March to press Malacanang against mining

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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.

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.

Killing people, killing the planet — WTO found guilty by peoples’ court

20131207_bali_killingplanet-300x225Bali, Indonesia – To the chant of “guilty, guilty, guilty!”, a “peoples’ tribunal” indicted the World Trade Organization yesterday for the “systematic violation of human rights, massive destruction of livelihoods and the environment, privatization and commodification of the commons and the violation of international law”.

The court specifically held to account and answer for widespread damages, private entities that Freeport Indonesia Ltd., PAM Lyonnais Jaya Ltd. and Aetra Air Jakarta Ltd., the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Donggi Senoro Liquid Natural Gas Ltd., Lafarge Cement Indonesia Ltd., Charoen Pokphand Indonesia Tbk., the mayor of Samarinda – Kalimantan, and corporations of coal and pesticides in Brebes, Central Java . It also decried “corporate impunity”, such that justice cannot be accessed in the current judicial system by grassroots people.

Earlier, farmers, fisherfolk, workers, women, migrants, indigenous peoples and other sectors gave testimonies and implicated the WTO in various issues such as land grabbing, loss of livelihoods, environmental damage and climate change, and commodifying people and nature.

“These testimonies clearly show that the WTO and the global trading system, including FTAs and other related policies are part of the root causes of the violations and corporate crimes….On the other hand, this system has generated maximum profits for corporations and elites and has failed to provide for peoples’ need,” the court declared in its
Indictment. It also pointed out that grassroots people

“These testimonies are clear expressions of peoples’ and communities’ continuing search for justice as the crimes of the WTO and the global trading system, the corporations and complicit governments go unpunished,” the court declared.

Elizabeth Mpfonu of La Via Campesina led the panel of justices composed of Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, Nandini Gawadhia of KRRS, Brid Brennan of the Transnational Institute, and Henry Saragih of Serikat Petani Indonesia.

The “Global Peoples’ Tribunal on WTO, Free Trade Agreements, Investments and Transnational Corporations” forms part of the week-long activities of Gerak Lawan (alliance of Indonesian Peoples Movements against Neocolonialism and Imperialism) and Social Movements for an Alternative Asia (SMAA), a newly formed coordination of Asian social movements.