325

Against the Matrix of Destruction (Philippines)

Here 325 presents an overview of the ecologically and socially destructive operations of mining companies in the Philippines. 325 seeks information about the companies operating in the Philippines and also in other countries, their attacks on, and exploitation of, areas and peoples, and the resistance the companies face in the present moment. This is to internationalise our struggle and become a threat to their activities. The companies we seek information about are: TORONTO VENTURES INCORPORATED (CA), PHILEX GOLD (CA), BHP BILLITON (UK/AUS), LAFAYETTE INC (UK/AUS), MINDORO RESOURCES LIMITED (CA), PELICAN RESOURCES INCORPORATED (AUS), SAGITTARIUS MINES/XTRATA LTD (SWISS/AUS)., OCEANA GOLD (AUS), INTEX (NORWAY). Please send information via our contact form and take action in the ways you can!

Our Struggle is as Trans-National as Capital!

The Matrix of the Philippine Mining Industry

The mining industry is one of the biggest industries in the world to date.
In every part of the world where there are minerals, mining companies from such as Canada, United States, Australia, Asia, Japan and Norway and many parts of Europe compete to exploit the resources which they can gain profit from. Consequently, this has lead to the horrendous destruction of the Earth’s biosphere. Life support system such as water-sources, forests and wildlife are destroyed everyday to serve the mining companies profit motive.

In addition, local people’s livelihood system are eradicated in the process.
Farmers, fisher folks, and indigenous/tribal people’s end up being harassed, bribed with money and other tactical incentives, displaced and inevitably, some people get killed if they militantly oppose a mining operation in their region.

Mining is a vital industry of the techno-industrial society. Through centuries, people from different corners of the globe mined for different kind of minerals which they can use in daily lives. However, the advent of neo-liberalism or capitalism has made the industry more powerful and tyrannical. In just a few hundred years, the mining industry has put tragedy to various corners of the globe. They have destroyed the planet’s biosphere including wildlife, farmers, fishermen, indigenous people and had made the last remaining forests, rivers and oceans of the world, which have existed for millions of years, disappear.

History

Mining in the Philippines started in the pre-colonial period. In a number of
regions in the archipelago, indigenous communities mined for gold, copper
and many other minerals for different purposes. Natives from all over the
Philippines used gold, pearls, agate and so on, for body ornaments. Gold was also bartered with merchants all over Asia and Europe in the pre-Islamic and Islamic period. It is noted that many merchants from Luzon (Northern Philippines), Brunei and Jolo traveled continually all throughout Mindanao in search for slaves and gold. However, the first commercial mine was in Benguet, Central Luzon- the Benguet Mining Corporation.

Roughly 400 years ago, the Spaniards took advantage of the affluent mineral
resources they could get. In fact, gold was the main reason why Spain colonized the Philippines, mainly for their so-called ‘Royal Service’. They made a law to inspect the esiting minerals in the archipelago and this law was called Inspeccion de Minas.

However, it was the Americans who made strategic steps to exploit the minerals of the Philippines. Implementing a Mining Law in May 1867, they did a geological survey which validated the Philippines as a mineral-rich country. They issued Act 468- a law which basically gives the government the right to reserved mineral lands for its own purposes. They buycialisquality.com claimed a number of areas as “reserved areas” for future mining,and thus the commercialization of the Benguet gold mining.

In the year 1914 in the south, Surigao and other parts of Caraga Region was
declared an “Iron Reserved” area for future mining. By then, the mining industry in the Philippines was on its way to boom and the Commonwealth US government took more hold of it forming a Mining Bureau to regulate all potential operations in the future.

In 1921, there was no large scale mining but many were making a living from small scale gold mining. By 1933 to 1941, gold mining popped up its cherry. It was the dominant mineral in the industry and was the most important.

A decade later , under the tyranny of the Japanese, Filipinos were coerced to mine for metals in many regions of the Philippines, to be used for war weapons in the Japanese sick conquest to rule the world.

This paved way for a more commercialized, exploited and degenerated Philippines. In the 1950’s copper mining was the most successful, and was the baby of Mining corporations. Large scale mining followed a few generations later reaching its peak in the 1960 and 1970’s. By the late 80’s, world demand for copper decreased because the world seemed to switch its interest on gold. However, a number of mining companies who mined for gold in that period closed because of law violations and so gold mining had a bit of denouement.

Under the WTO, IMF-WB, the neo-colonized Philippines was again coerced to
adjust its economic policies to adhere to neo-liberal policies. By 1994, pro-development politicians such as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo among the rest, lobbied a Mining Bill which would later become the Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

This law basically puts power over land, resources and life to Corporations and because of the Regalian doctrine- a law which basically gives the government the right to own and do whatever they wish in public lands, many areas became mining hot spots.

By 1996, the Philippine Mining Industry got back on track allowing offshore companies to operate fully in the reserved areas and so was disaster to a number of places in the Philippines. In March 1996, the Marcopper tunnel in Marinduque collapsed. In rough estimation, 1.6 million cubic meters of mine tailings flowed from the mine pit to the Makulapnit and Boac river trapping 4,400 people in 20 villages. That incident killed the Boac river not to mention the massive siltation of downstream communities and coastal areas. Among the number of tragedies that happened in 1998 are the Malangas Coal Corporation case in Zamboanga Del Sur, Mindanao was an explosion occurred in the mine site killing almost a hundred workers and injuring 35 people and by 2004, another disaster happened in Surigao Del Norte, Mindanao. That time, it was from one of the largest and longstanding mining corporations in the Philippines- the Manila Mining Corporation (MMC). Three disastrous incidents occurred where approximately five million cubic meters of waste materials containing high levels of mercury damaging local people’s agricultural lands and temporarily poisoned the adjacent Placer Bay.

Today, hundred of mining applications are pending to prey on the resources of the Philippines, 20 major large scale mining operations, 10 medium scale mining operations, and more than 2000 non-metallic small scale mining operations exists.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 at 10:13 am and is filed under Eco Struggle.