HINABANGAN, Samar -
Mining, after all, had not substantially destroyed the environment in
Bagacay, this town. If one account is to be considered right, it may
well be said that it has not even caused an alarming pollution to the Taft
No less than a well-placed
government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, even remarked that
on account of past mining operations at least 80 hectares in Bagacay had
been left “ideal for eco-tourism now”. He said mining has “carved out a
valley with an exhilarating panorama.”
Virginia Lovely Sanvictores,
secretary-general of the KAGUPASA (Katig-uban han Gugti nga Parag-uma og
Parapangisda han Samar), a people’s organization in the locality, said that
the mined area, about 2 kilometers southeast of the barrio site, has agreed
with the government official’s observation, adding that she could just
visualize the peace-loving people in her town soon “reversing the
Both the official and
Sanvictores said that the mining valley is still surrounded with large
forests which therefore make the locality “truly luring” to tourists and
investors. “The site is, no doubt, a
in Samar because of the surrounding very cool atmosphere. Very cold,”
Sanvictores told a group of media men.
An unsigned “Situationer
Report of Philippine Pyrite Corporation (PPC)” in Bagacay indicated that the
Mines Geosciences Bureau of Region 8 (MGB-08) of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted various monitoring
activities over the mine and affected of PPC between July 25, 1996 and
October 23, 2003.
KAGUPASA president Aureo Darras had earlier requested the DENR through
provincial environment and natural resources officer George F. Guillermo
that the KAGUPASA be given “priority and allocation” particularly of the
mining site in Bagacay.
They said they wanted “to
develop the area as Bagacay country club intended for golf course,
reforestation area as to improve the land free (it) from any flashfloods and
landslides which may occur in the future.”
The area subject to the
pyrite operation of PPC has been covered by “Lode Lease Contract (LLC),
LLV-V-162 (9 claims) issued to Marinduque Iron Mines Agents Inc.” The
contract was issued 48 years ago (May 29, 1957). On October 10, 1977, the
Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corporation (MMIC) acquired a right over
the leased area by virtue of a deed of assignment.
Several memoranda of
agreements were entered into covering the lode site, the latest of which, on
February 15, 1985, was between PHILPHOS and PPC.
On August 26, 1985, about 48
years after the issuance of the contract and 8 years after MMIC acquired the
mine site, or 6 months after the execution of the last MOA, the contract was
renewed, already in the name of the Marinduque Mining and Industrial
However, on December 15,
1986 - the date at which the Philippine government’s Asset Privatization
Trust (APT) was created thru Proclamation 50 of then President Corazon
Cojuangco Aquino of the Post-EDSA 1986 Revolutionary Government - the
property in the name of MMIC was foreclosed by the Philippine National Bank.
Subsequently, the APT placed under its control the MMIC’s assets and
Pollution of the Taft River
had been the main issue alleged although it had been found out that this
problem already existed even before the Philippine Pyrite Corporation
started operating. The Taft River, a large river system that traverses the
provinces of Samar and Eastern
Samar, is adjacent and downstream of the mine compound.
In view of the issue raised,
the DENR’s MGDS and EMPAS, recommended for the construction of additional
tailings ponds in June, 1988. Thus, tailings ponds numbers 6, 7 and 8 were
constructed with corresponding permit to operate issue in 1989.
On May 28, 1990, DENR-PAB
issued a Cease and Desist Order relative to the petition of barangays San
Pablo, Mabug, Gayam, Benalonan, Lumatod and Malinao, Taft,
Eastern Samar concerning the alleged pollution of the
Taft River. That order was
lifted on July 9, 1990 or more than one month after its issuance.
The EMPAS and MGDS of DENR-8
conducted several monitorings after that.
In the MGDS’ November 1990
monitoring, the anti-pollution measures were noted to be “working
effectively.” However, several reports on Taft River pollution allegedly
caused by the PPC operation were lodged with the DENR regional office by
stakeholders concerned. In response, the DENR conducted corresponding
On May 26, 1992, PPC
suspended its mining operation. This was not however due to the alleged
Its own decision to suspend
was brought about by a “rising recovery cost aggravated by labor dispute
between PPC management and (the) labor union.”
By December, 1992, the PPC
completely ceased its operation without any maintenance nor rehabilitation
over the mine site, facilities, equipment and other structures.
Since the stoppage of PPC’s
mining operations, the MGB-08 conducted 7 monitoring activities between July
25-26, 1996 (when it assessed the Tailings Dam with the assistance of the
then DENR-EMPAS in the region) and February 13-16, 2001 (when it assisted
Tetra Tech EM personnel in the latter’s conduct of a semi-detailed
assessment of abandoned and inactive mines at PPC, Hinabangan.
On June 29, 2002, the PPC
resumed its hauling operation though tramline.
The MGB-8 found out from its
October 23-24, 2003 river assessment and water quality monitoring at the
Taft River that the river system had a “relatively neutral PH and a clear
water both at the discharge point of the settling ponds and the recipient
Taft River downstream.”
However, it noted that the
river water would “turn murky during rainy seasons”. The water discoloration
was attributed to “run-offs from mine premises”.
The government’s MGB-08 thus
made corresponding recommendations.
These included the dredging
of silt sediments particularly at the midstream and downstream portions, the
planting of appropriate tree species to protect river banks from scouring,
and the conduct of detailed geological, environmental and water/sediment
Knowing the new 8ID
By Maj FELIX M. MANGYAO (INF) PA
September 16, 2005
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan,
Samar – Major General Bonifacio B. Ramos took over Command of the
8th Infantry (Storm Troopers) Division, Philippine Army as the 13th
Commanding General vice the outgoing Commanding General Major General Jovito
S. Palparan Jr. during the Change of Command Ceremony last August 25, 2005
with the Philippine Army Chief MGen. Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr, as presiding
In a simple ceremony held at
the 8ID grandstand, MGen Ramos in his acceptance speech, he expressed his
utmost gratitude to the Commander-in-Chief, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,
and the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Senga for
giving him the trust, confidence and the opportunity to serve the people of
Eastern Visayas. Being the Division Commander, he looks forward to facing
the great challenge of Government’s Internal Security operations
overwhelming in the region. He gives the assurance to MGen. Palparan, that
he will continue the mission of the Division of combating terrorism in the
region by expressing his sincere responsibility as a Commander.
MGen. Ramos is a member of
the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1975, who got commissioned as 2nd
Lieutenant in the Philippine Army upon his graduation from that prestigious
institution. A well-schooled officer, he has finished various job-related
courses both local and abroad. To mentioned a few: Philippine Army Infantry
Advance Course and Tactical Intelligence Course at Continental USA, both
courses he graduated number 1; Negotiation/Mediation Course at Pearson
Peacekeeping Center in Canada, Command and General Staff Course at Malaysian
Command and Staff College to which he was on the Commandant’s List;
Strategic Intelligence Planning at University of Asia and the Pacific and
the Pre-Command Course for Battalion Commander position.
On his civilian schooling,
he is a graduate of Strategic & Defense Studies at the University of Malaya
in Malaysia and he also has an MA in National Security Studies at
Washington D. C.
On the other hand, right
after his assumption of command, he immediately visited the troops in the
field units, up to the remotest detachments, to stress his policies and
guidelines for the accomplishment of the Command’s mission.
Among his important previous
assignments were: Platoon Leader, Company Commander, Battalion Commander,
Division G2 & G3 in Mindanao, Chief of Staff of Intelligence and Security
Group, Commandant of the Intelligence School; Area Command Staff for
Operations, AC3 of Visayas Command, AFP; Chief Operations Division OJ3, GHQ;
Deputy Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense;
Defense/Military Attaché, USA; Liaison Officer to the United Nations;
Commanding General of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, 1ID, PA, Assistant
Division Commander, 8ID, PA; Inspector General, PA and now the Commanding
General, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.
He is poised to enhance the
cooperation, coordination and linkaging efforts with the Local Government
Officials, Non-Governmental Organizations, the church and the people in
general which he considers as partners and stakeholders of peace in fighting
the deeply-rooted insurgency problem in the region.
MGen. Ramos is a native
of Maasin City, Southern Leyte.
De Venecia stalled peace talks – Bayan Muna
Filipino Resource Center
July 7, 2005
OSLO, Norway -
In an effort to salvage the peace talks between the Philippine government
and the National Democratic Front, the Congress of the Philippines decided
to send a Peace Mission in the Netherlands last June 20-27. However, it did
not succeed in coming up with an agreement for the immediate resumption of
the talks. Head of the Peace Mission, Bayan-Muna Representative Satur Ocampo
talks about what transpired during the week-long consultation during a short
visit in Oslo last July 2.
Why did Congress decide
to step in the peace talks?
(Special Committee on Peace and Reconciliation and Unity) was given mandate
or given jurisdiction on all issues pertaining to the peace negotiations and
resolution of all armed conflicts so it is an idea to enable the legislative
branch of the government to provide inputs into the ongoing peace process
and not leave the peace negotiation entirely in the hands of the executive
government as it has been since 1992. There is ground for Congress to assert
its initiative in the peace process because the resolution of the long
drawn-out armed conflict between the government forces and the national
democratic left revolutionary forces led by the CPP/NPA represented by the
NDF could require policies, programs that would need legislative action for
implementation. So, it is best if even during the period of negotiation that
the House of Representative can already provide its input and advice for
better coordination with the executive.
What is the objective of
the Peace Mission?
Ocampo: The peace mission
is specifically intended to contribute to efforts mainly undertaken by the
Royal Government of Norway as third party facilitator between the government
and the NDF, to get the two parties back into the formal talks in the peace
negotiations as soon as possible and to accelerate the process towards
attaining the objective of just and lasting peace, and national
What happened during your
consultations with the NDF panel?
Ocampo: The Peace mission
held a dialogue with the NDF negotiating panel consisting of NDF Chief
Negotiator Louie Jalandoni, Julie de Lima, Fidel Agcaoli, Connie Ledesma
including Chief political consultant, Jose Maria Sison, political consultant
Danilo Borjal and head of the secretariat, Ruth de Leon. The
discussions explored possibilities of resuming the peace talks and the peace
mission shared the greetings given by the Presidential adviser on the Peace
Process Teresita Deles to which the NDF reacted by giving its own version of
how the peace process got bogged down and clarified that the government’s
assertion/claim that the NDF unilaterally suspended the talks in August
2004. The NDF panel said that they asked for postponement of the
formal talks in light of the renewed listing by the United States
government of the CPP/NPA and Joma Sison and the failure of the Government
of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to comply with its commitments
under the previous agreement like upholding the principle of national
sovereignty under the Joint Declaration of the Hague, the Security and
Immunity Guarantee under the JASIG and the guarantees under the
Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International
Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). So this mission took cognizance of the points
raised by the NDF and the two sides drew up in the next three days a
communiqué reflecting as concisely and as truthfully as possible what went
on in the discussion.
So everything went well
in the peace mission?
when House Speaker Jose de Venecia joined the peace mission he objected to
the several parts of the communiqué, mainly those that stated the NDF’s
review of the history of the peace talks that contained the critical
comments on the action taken by the government to help the CPP/NPA and Mr.
Sison included in the terrorist list of the European Union and also the
presentation of the prejudicial questions. Even the points of convergence or
agreement between the peace mission and the NDF panel like the urgent need
for the immediate resumption of the peace negotiations, the need for the
joint monitoring committee implementing the CARHRIHL to meet and act on the
complaints filed before it and also the need for the government to comply
with its commitment to release the remaining political prisoners. There is
nothing wrong in putting those in the communiqué but the Speaker objected to
these. The Speaker simply wanted a very brief statement that says the
NDF and the Peace mission agreed to resume the peace negotiations within the
third quarter of 2005 and to try to accelerate the process towards attaining
the objectives of the peace negotiations. So the NDF argued that it would
disadvantageous or unjust for the NDF to simply state the point of agreement
or the substance of the dialogue in the previous statement without
clarifying the prejudicial questions that have still be resolved before the
formal negotiations are resumed. In fact, the NDF have submitted proposals
to meet half-way or to be able to resolve the issue of terrorist listing by
not greatly demanding on the government to petition the US and EU for the
delisting the CPP/NPA and Jose Sison but simply for the government and the
NDF to make a joint declaration to uphold national sovereignty and
guarantees provided in the agreements already signed by the two panels.
What was the final
decision made on the communiqué drafted by the Peace mission and the NDF?
Because of Speaker Jose de Venecia’s intervention and
objection, the two sides no longer issued the communiqué but as head of the
Peace Mission and chairman of Special Committee on Peace and Reconciliation,
I am duty-bound to report to Congress, submit a written report to the
Speaker, and make an oral report to the Plenary of Congress when it resumes
its session in late July and early August.
Meantime, a member of the government of President Arroyo, one
of her advisers (Ed Pamintuan) had contacted me yesterday and asked for the
copy of the communiqué with the intention of bringing it up to President
Arroyo and try to convince her to accept it so that the peace negotiation
can be resumed. We are waiting for developments on that point.
Meanwhile, what is the
prospect for the peace talks?
Ocampo: Meantime, in
light of political developments that put Arroyo in the political conundrum
and dilemma, Joma Sison has expressed the view that the peace talks may not
proceed and it is willing to wait out in the crisis confronting the
What is the reaction of
the Norwegian government on this development?
Ocampo: My conference
with Tore Hattrem who is representative of the Foreign department of the
Royal Norwegian Government agreed that both his office and the House Special
Committee shall continue to work towards the resumption of the peace talks
despite the current obstacles.
Can Jose Ma. Sison's
Maoist rebellion in the Philippines succeed in this generation?
On December 24, 2004, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP) exhorted its faithful to: "Avail of the Worsening Crisis
and Intensify the Guerilla Offensives to Advance the New Democratic
The CPP leaders reiterated
that: "The revolutionary armed struggle is the main form of struggle because
it answers the central question of the revolution, which is the seizure of
political power. Our NPA commanders and fighters run into thousands. They
operate in 128 guerrilla fronts and in substantial portions of nearly 70 of
74 provinces, more than 800 of the 1500 municipalities and more than 10,000
of the 45,000 barangays nationwide."
rebellion has been going on for 36 years. Is it on the verge of sweeping
away its opposition in the Philippines? Will it ever succeed?
Project Ploughshares, an
ecumenical peace centre of the Canadian Council of Churches, estimates that
as of 2004, some 25,000 combat-related deaths have occurred in the
Philippines since 1969 when the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and
its military arm, the New People's Army (NPA), launched their rebellion
against the Philippine Government.
In the past few months,
discussions of this rebellion have been catapulted into the Philippine media
again. It has been at the center of numerous Filipino discussion groups in
One reason for this was the
reaction of the Philippine military to the CPP’s unrelenting focus to
continue its armed struggle to attain its objectives. Groups that are
generally linked to the Philippine military launched their own abductions,
summary killings, and execution of critics of the establishment and the
Philippine government based on their judgment of who had to be eliminated.
Some sectors in the Philippines claim that there is already military rule in
without the formal declaration by the military that they are already in
The military was not
discriminating. If individuals and groups were vocal on their criticisms of
the government, they were listed as “enemies of the state”. Into this
category fell the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the
United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), organizations that
represent the Catholics and the Protestants in the Philippines,
respectively, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP),
and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) whose
Executive Director, Sheila Coronel, was given the prestigious Ramon
Magsaysay Award, among others, are their "enemies".
This pathetic naiveté,
ignorance and embarrassing lack of contemporary political and social
awareness of the military - an institution which has been rocked by
corruption and scandals also - would be hilarious but for the grim and
deadly consequences on the Filipino people.
Consequently, some assassins
and shadowy killers who are generally believed to be working with the
military may have been torturing and killing innocent people.
For instance, in a town in
Samar, the third largest island of the Philippines, a farmer, suspected to
be associated with the NPA was abducted by an armed group. His
headless body, arms in handcuffs, was later dumped on the roadside along the
Pan Philippine Highway for all to see. His parents were so terrified
that they could not even claim his body and give their dead son a decent
Other killings and
abductions have been documented. A journalist, Dabet Castañeda, reports that
in the same island of Samar alone, since the assumption of Maj. General
Jovito Palparan to the command of the military in the islands of Samar and
Leyte, on February 10 this year, 20 persons have been reported missing in
the region, including four children, Liza, 8, Marissa, 7, Charisse, 5, and
Kulot, 3. They were reportedly abducted together with Noni Fabella and Rina
Balais-Fabella, members of the Advocates for Women's Actions, Rights and
Empowerment (AWARE) on March 30 in Barangay Trece, in Catbalogan,
Similar atrocities have been
reported in Luzon and Mindanao.
Some residents in Catbalogan
and Samar island who are no longer very particular about the rule of law and
the hallowed democratic principles of due process as long as there is peace
and order in their daily lives, have expressed their admiration of the
military's campaign that wiped out criminal elements - gangsters, private
armies, holduppers, and drug dealers in Samar. But for those who still
believe in the rule of law and the democratic process, the summary killings
are symbols of a Reign of Terror.
To some Filipinos who are
deeply concerned with the consequences of Jose Ma. Sison’s unswerving belief
that only through armed struggle can his objectives be attained and the
brutalities that are attributed to the military in the pursuit of their
mandate, the expression, “A pox on both their houses” seems to be
appropriate. There is a feeling that the majority of the Filipinos are
caught between two contemptible forces which seem to derive pleasure in
killing; with the corrupt military getting more points for ignorance and
their psychopathic brutalities.
The CPP-NPA is not exactly
lily-white. It has been labeled as nothing but a group of extortionists,
hobnobbing with the corrupt and the incompetent, killing their own people,
and threatening the lives of those whom they consider their enemies if they
do not kowtow to the thinking of The Consultant and “affirm” the sanctity of
In the meantime that these
two contending forces are trying to wipe each other out, hunger, misery, and
hopelessness continue to stalk the land.
It is imperative that for
the sake of the 85 million Filipinos and the future generations, a new way
of looking at things should be explored beyond the limiting confines of
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or the obsession of the corrupt military to impose
themselves on the hapless Filipino people.
For the so-called
“Progressive Forces”, i.e., Bayan Muna, Akbayan, etc. and those in the
military who cry for their country, perhaps the leadership should reach out
to form a “Broad Front”, a “Frente Amplio”, along the lines of the Uruguayan
Experiment where the dreaded urban guerillas, the Tupamaros, laid down their
arms to compete with other political groups in the electoral process. They
were able to achieve without a bloody total revolution their aim of
If the alternative political
groups do not look around, the killings will only continue which could
result in the “Killing Fields” and “The Mountains of Skulls” similar to what
happened in Cambodia.
Raul Pangalangan, Dean of
the University of the Philippines College of Law, who lectured in Phnom Penh
for The Hague Academy of International Law in 2004, expresses his sorrow at
what happened in Cambodia, after the communist guerillas, the Khmer Rogue or
Red Khmer, had triumphed:
“I visited Tuol Sleng once
again, the infamous schoolyard converted into a torture chamber, where
14,000 men, women and children were detained, tortured and killed - in the
end, only seven prisoners came out alive. Its second and third floor
corridors overlooking the courtyard were ringed with barbed wire because the
prisoners preferred to fling themselves to death rather than endure the
torture. Each time I visit, I grieve for the Cambodian people and worry for
It seems that 20 out of 100
Cambodians - 1.7 million out of an estimated total population of 8 million -
died after their “liberation” from “feudalism, imperialism, capitalism, and
bureaucrat capitalism”. If projected to the Philippines, this would mean the
death of 17 million Filipinos out of the present population of 85 million.
The sad thing is that after
all the tortures, the agony, and those wasted lives, Cambodia is not even a
democracy, much less an egalitarian, socialist society. And definitely it is
not on its way to becoming the ideal communist society, the dream world of
our freedom fighters, where the fundamental ruling principle of human
relations would be: “From each according to his ability, to each
according to his needs”.
[The author is a regular columnist of “The Filipino
Insider”, a monthly supplement of the “San Francisco Chronicle”, one of the
major newspapers in America with a circulation of 500,000. This piece is for
the June 2005 issue of the publication. He can be reached at