Tag Archives: Lito Atienza

[Blog] Atienza: Buhay’s dilemma by Rodne Galicha

by Rodne Galicha


Rod Galicha2

Buhay Hayaang Yumabong or BUHAY party-list got three seats for the next Congress as it gained victory, garnering 1,265,992 votes equivalent to 4.74 percent of the total votes cast.

Buhay’s core principles are based on the Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag: for God, people, environment and country. Being pro-God is to recognize the sole right of God being the Creator to give and take away human life – the reason to oppose the Reproductive Health (RH) law. The second principle speaks of human rights in the perspective of belief in the first principle.

In being maka-kalikasan or pro-environment, Buhay believes that the Creator gave us abundant and overflowing natural resources which must be developed and used justly for the benefit of all Filipinos and the next generation – not only for the chosen few.

For country, Buhay sees that the Philippines was formed by God to be emulated by the world through the promotion of good and effective governance.

And here comes the second nominee of the top party-list: the incoming congressman Lito Atienza. Personally, I saw fiery swords falling from the heavens!

I first met Mr. Atienza in his office in 2007 when we discussed mining in Sibuyan Island and the killing of an environment activist, and again in 2009 when the Mangyans from Mindoro camped outside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ national office.

Atienza headed DENR from 2007 until 2009 under the baton of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The latter was bullish in promoting the mining industry left and right through Executive Order 270-A and the Mining Act of 1995 despite lack of social acceptability and environmental threats to communities.

One working day, on December 23, 2009, before Atienza resigned as DENR secretary, he signed five mineral production sharing agreement permits and three exploration permits. What was questionable? All these are midnight deals. How come? December 24th was non-working holiday, 25th a regular holiday, 26th was a Saturday and 27th was Sunday. He resigned December 28th, Monday.

In 2007, he vowed to help us in Sibuyan as we personally delivered our petitions and opposition letters against nickel mining. After an anti-mining activist was shot to death, even the three mayors of our island, namely Ibarra Manzala, Nanette Tansingco and Nicasio Ramos that year signed a memorandum of agreement that destructive mining shall not be allowed. Even the barangay councils revoked former recommendatory resolutions. But lo and behold, in 2009, Atienza signed through a midnight deal an MPSA for 1,581 hectares of land to mine nickel, iron, cobalt, chromite and other associated mineral deposits.

This abominable act of Atienza is a total deviation from the very principles of Buhay party-list. It is against the integrity of creation, the right to life of the communities which also includes basic human rights, and good governance.

Atienza must be held accountable by Buhay itself, in the first place. By approving mining in my island, the source of our almost 95% clean energy is threatened – Cantingas River. It is also the source of our irrigation for our town’s rice granary on top of being the summer tourism capital of Sibuyan and apparently, of Romblon province as a whole.

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[Blogger] I want to be a rebel – akolikasan.blogspot.com

by Rodne Rodiño Galicha

(On President Benigno Aquino III‘s total log ban exemption in mining areas)

President Benigno Aquino III has exempted the mining industry from the total log ban in exchange for obligating the industry to take part in the National Greening Program launched early this year.

Leo Jasareno, Mines and Geociences Bureau (MGB) national director, said on Thursday that making decisions like this was the Aquino administration’s way of making industry regulations more efficient and mining more acceptable to the public.

Yes, I want to be a rebel.

Four years ago, a colleague of mine was shot to death by a mining security officer while leading a picket against some hired surveyors of a mining company and the approval of a special cutting of trees permit approved by the late DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes.

Such permit will let the mining company cut more or less 70,000 trees.

The license had been suspended by then DENR Secretary Lito Atienza and anytime it may be lifted by now DENR Secretary Ramon Paje the fact that the exemption of President Aquino has been publicized.

I want to be a rebel.

Every tree and mineral on my island is already tainted by the blood of our martyr. This pronouncement of the President will lead to more bloodshed.

I want to be a rebel.

This government has now shown its hidden tentacles – orchestrated by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines composed by mere less than one percent of the country’s population.

I want to be a rebel.


Fortunately, a few government agencies I really trust are still fighting for a real change in the service of the Filipino people. One of which is the Climate Change Commission with people who are genuinely concerned with the future of this country.

Perhaps, the President doesn’t know the real statistics on the ground.


I want to be a rebel.

Mr. President, I hope you read this message.

What you have pronounced will lead to a more chaotic Philippines.

I tell you. Believe me. Believe us. We are the 99%.

Mr. President, YOU LIED.

Mr. President, WE ARE YOUR BOSS.

Mr. President, you are now becoming the leader of the 1%.

Mr. President, I tell you solemnly: do not be fooled by these people.

Mr. President, you are an economist, and your own government agency says that the contribution of the mining industry to our gross domestic product is only less than 2%.

What have you become?

Mr. President, be afraid of your people for in due time they will become rebels themselves against the 1% you are now leading.

Is this a compromise?

A compromise of a fool mind and lost soul.

I wish I am a rebel.

[Press Release] Romblon officials cry foul over Sibuyan mining – www.alyansatigilmina.net

Said mining in island ecosystems should be strictly prohibited

Sibuyan, Romblon – Local government officials of rich-biodiversity Sibuyan island in Romblon province continue to express their dismay over the insistence of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC) to push with a large nickel mine project.

It was discovered on Saturday that MGB and SNPDC conducted a meeting to create multi-partite monitoring team for a nickel mine project approved by then Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza, few days before he resigned from office in December 2009.

“We were caught unaware about this meeting, this is a gross disrespect to the local autonomy, they don’t even have any social license to operate and the three municipal councils issued a joint resolution against present and future mining projects,” said Mayor Dindo C. Rios of the municipality of San Fernando.

“As we join the whole world in celebrating the International Year of Forests, we commit ourselves to protect our island where the world’s densest forest flourishes; we will not allow mining to destroy our remaining forests in the Galapagos of Asia,” declared Rios.

According to MGB Region IV-B Director Roland de Jesus, MGB representatives “are monitoring the activities of Altai with SNPDC as assigned project holder as part of the conditionalities of the permit granted by the DENR.”

“We have already recommended the island of Sibuyan to be closed to mining,” disclosed de Jesus.

However, the MGB cannot exempt anymore Altai since it was already granted contract. Nevertheless, de Jesus clarified that the company is only allowed at this point in time to purely conduct exploration activities and not mining per se.

Meanwhile, environmental groups and local officials have been questioning the approval of the license.

“We challenge the validity of the mining permit because it did not pass through formal and transparent processes at the barangay level; it was not even endorsed by the municipal government because the company failed to submit necessary documents and requirements formally requested by the Sangguniang Bayan,” declared in a statement by Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment / Sibuyanons Against Mining (Sibuyan ISLE/SAM).

According to Sibuyan ISLE/SAM, the mineral agreement comprising an area of 1,580.8 hectares may be considered as a midnight deal signed by former DENR Secretary Lito Atienza a few days he resigned from his post in 2009.

The provincial government of Romblon through an executive order signed by Governor Eduardo C. Firmalo created a special task force to assess and investigate the approval of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) granted to Altai Philippines Mining Corporation, which is now assigned to SNPDC at the local level.

“After series of dialogues and consultations in the three municipalities of Sibuyan, the consensus was that mining is detrimental to the health of the people and to the environment of the island, and that the costs and negative effects which may brought about by mining could not be compensated for by economic benefits of mining,” Firmalo said.

For the provincial government, eco-tourism and agriculture are more sustainable for such a delicate and high-biodiversity island ecosystem.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina added, “Romblon is a province composed of island ecosystems, just like Palawan, it is fragile and home to many species of flora and fauna that needs to be protected.”

Additionally, House Bill No. 4415 entitled: “An Act Declaring the Province of Romblon a Mining Free Zone, and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof” has been authored and filed by lone district of Lone Lone district of Romblon representative Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona which aims to fully protect the natural resources as well as the health of the residents of the affected areas in the province.

”We are all aware of the harmful effects of metallic mining and we cannot sacrifice the lives and the livelihood of our people; I am therefore, elated that the local government units through their respective resolutions support this legislative measures,” explained Madrona.

Backed with scientific references on the importance of biodiversity and citing the findings of Mines and Geosciences Bureau that Romblon Islands especially Tablas and Sibuyan are generally highly susceptible to floods and landslides, the bill seeks to promote preservation of ecological biodiversity and disaster risk reduction.

Meanwhile DENR Secretary aspirant Neric Acosta in his Facebook page said, “There are few places left in the country with such delicate and rich ecosystems, with the highest endemism of flora and fauna. Sibuyan must be a national ecological preserve, which should earn far more for the island from eco-tourism, scientific research, and environmental education programs, than finite extractive activities.”

Garganera concluded, “We support Gov. Firmalo and Cong. Madrona for their serious stance to protect the peoples of Romblon and its biodiversity. As we celebrate the International Year of Forests, let us keep in mind the importance of the forests and the whole island ecosystem that serves as the refuge of communities.”

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines.

Press Release
May 17, 2011
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0927) 761.76.02 <nc@alyansatigilmina.net>
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy & Advocacy Officer, (0915) 331.33.61 <policy@alyansatigilmina.net>

[In the web] Foreign, local firms raid Cagayan for magnetite – alyansatigilmina.net

Alyansa Tigil Mina

File Photo by philrights.orgMORE than a year since the series of killings of anti-mining activists in Buguey town, Cagayan province, none of the suspects has been identified, and no case has been filed.

But environmentalists are blaming big businesses—Filipino, Korean and Chinese—that are mining magnetite in resource-rich Cagayan.  They are also pointing the finger at the powerful Enrile family which they believe to be interested in magnetite mining in the province.

The anti-mining advocates who were shot and killed were, after all, no ordinary environmentalists. They were also supporters of Buguey Mayor and anti-mining advocate Ignacio Taruc who had challenged Rep. Jack Enrile (1st district, Cagayan) for the post of congressman of Cagayan’s first district.

Three anti-mining leaders were attacked on election month, May 2010. Two of them—Conrado Buenaflor and William Arzadon—were killed, while another, Adamson Arellano, survived.

Taruc himself was suspended by the Provincial Board around election time for alleged grave misconduct, oppression and grave abuse of authority. He was slapped with a preventive suspension order that was based on an administrative case filed by then Buguey vice mayor (and now mayor) Licerio Antiporda III.

Taruc has said the allegations against him were politically motivated.  News reports quoted him as saying the suspension was “another move by the capitol and the Enriles to oppress me after I refused to give permission to the operation of mining in my town.”

But Congressman Enrile said he did not think that the killings were related to mining at all. In an interview with VERA Files, he said he has heard that personal grudge was behind the death of Gensun Agustin, the anti-mining activisit who was killed in March last year.

Enrile described those opposed to mining as “a minority” in the province. “Only a few don’t like mining,” he said.

He also declined to comment on Taruc’s allegations of political harassment, pointing out however that Taruc was “known” to have committed abuses.

Still, Enrile said he, too, was against mining. “My stand is no to all kinds of mining, even quarrying. It is an emotional issue and one that has been very controversial. Dapat itigil muna (There should be a moratorium) while we amend the law,” he said, adding that he was ready to support the Minerals Management Bill or House Bill no. 3763 being pushed by civil society organizations.

Since 2006, magnetite mining has become brisk business in many towns in Cagayan. According to the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), 13,843 hectares of land along the coastal areas of Cagayan are covered with magnetite mining permits.

According to the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), 13,843 hectares of land along the coastal areas of Cagayan are covered by magnetite mining permits.

Residents suspect that private and foreign companies are also engaged in mining along the 16-kilometer stretch of the Cagayan River but are doing this in the guise of river dredging.

The problem is that mining is prohibited in “onshore areas within 200 meters from the mean low tide level along the coast,” according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Administrative Order 2007-15, an amendment to the implementing rules of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

The DENR defines “onshore” as the “landward side” of bodies of water, including “submerged lands in lakes, rivers and creeks.”

There are those who believe that Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile owns a magnetite mining operation in Cagayan Valley.  But there is no mining company listed in Enrile’s 2009 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

The Securities and Exchange Commission database, however, shows that three officials of the Enriles’ JAKA Group of Companies are directors and officers of Prime Circle Mining Corp., one of the mining firms operating in Cagayan.

Danilo Bautista, chairman of the board of Prime Circle, is senior executive vice president, chief finance officer, and a division head of the JAKA Group. Another division head, senior vice president Persevirando Lukban, is a member of the board of Prime Circle, while assistant vice president and legal division head Jose Domingo Tan is Prime Circle’s corporate secretary.

While confirming that the three officials in the mining companies are indeed with JAKA, Congressman Enrile said he himself has retired from that firm in 2002. He said he was not aware that these officials were involved in mining companies.

Enrile added that JAKA itself was not into mining. The company’s activities involve real estate, security service and distribution, he said.

In a text message sent by a member of his staff in answer to VERA Files’ query, Senate President Enrile said, “Prime Circle used to operate a quarry in Gonzaga, Cagayan and it did so upon the request of governors and mayors to have a cheaper source of rocks/aggregates for local requirements. “

He also said the company operated only for a brief period and is no longer in operation. “Prime Circle was never engaged in magnetite mining,” he said.

But documents from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR show that Prime Circle has an existing industrial sand and gravel permit in Gonzaga town, next to Lal-lo. It has also applied for an exploration permit for magnetite sand, based on another MGB document dated last October.

Another company conducting mining operations in Cagayan is Colossal Mining Co. (CMC) which holds three of the five exploration permits issued by the DENR in 2007. The permits cover 36,000 hectares of offshore magnetite iron ore sites and areas that cover almost half of Cagayan as well as parts of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

CMC was found to have docked sea vessels in Cagayan and extracted 200 kilos of magnetite sand. No action was taken when communities reported this.

Meanwhile, a concerned resident of Gonzaga town disclosed that Lianxing Stone Carving Corp. has been issued a small-scale mining permit for black sand in late 2006 up to present.

Evelyn Giron-Lacambra, president of the Concerned Lal-loqueños against Illegal Mining (CLAIM), said she had written former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in September 2008 asking her to put a stop to the mining of the Cagayan River.

A cease-and-desist order was issued in October that year by the Region 2 office of the DENR against Wang Zhong Feng, president and chief executive of San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd. Inc., for operating without an Environmental Compliance Certificate and a mining permit.

But the mining activists’ victory was short-lived. In the complaint she filed in January 2009 before the provincial government, Lacambra said while magnetite mining in the river was suspended, San You continued its manganese mining operations in Lal-lo.

It was another illegal operation, Lacambra said, as the company’s site in Sitio Zicunig is part of the Agtas’ ancestral domain, and the mining activity was conducted without Free and Prior Informed Consent as required by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.

And despite the cease-and-desist order, dredging operations in the banks of Lal-lo resumed in January 2009 because of the permit to operate issued by Gov. Alvaro Antonio and the business permit by then Mayor Maria Olivia Pascual, respectively.

In April 2009, however, then DENR Secretary Lito Atienza suspended magnetite mining operations in Buguey for operating within the 200-meter shoreline.

Lacambra and the rest of CLAIM sought the help of the Commission on Human Rights whose regional officers witnessed and even documented the actual mining operations.

But she said MGB regional director Mario Ancheta denied that mining activities were going on.  Ancheta reported to the DENR that the sand extraction done by MV Min Fu Jian Hou, the vessel seen off Buguey in mid-October last year, was for “sampling purposes” only.

When MV Nam Yang 8, a North Korean vessel loaded with about 2,800 metric tons of magnetite, listed off the coast of Claveria, Cagayan, on Jan. 1, 2010, Ancheta explained in another report that the load was actually part of an old stock extracted by Jisan Mining, a Korean firm with a small-scale permit.

“There is no mining going on in Cagayan, and I am not aware of any shipment of magnetite sand that is coming out of Cagayan,” Governor Antonio said in the same news report.

But only in July of last year, six Chinese men were apprehended by the police while illegally extracting magnetite in Lal-lo. They were said to be employees of San You, according to reports by the Manila Times, Daily Tribuneand the Philippine Star.

Last December, Lacambra said magnetite mining throughout the province has been put on hold.

Another source, however, said magnetite mining resumed on the first week of February.  She said 10 Chinese boats are docked in Cagayan waters, this time with small-scale mining permits issued by the governor.

Huaxia Mining Co. obtained two permits for 20 hectares of magnetite sand mining in Batangan, Gonzaga last December. The facilities are already under construction, practically in front of the beach, a source said.

Last January, Lianxing Corp. reportedly exported black sand despite the ban in magnetite sand mining.  Representatives of Lianxing Corp. replied that it exported old stocks.

Despite their own fears fueled by the deaths of anti-mining activists, about 2,000 people attended a protest rally on March 19 in Gonzaga town to oppose the grant of permits to Huaxia. The firm was reportedly operating within the 200-meter shoreline limit.

The protest, held right in front of the mining construction in Batangan, demanded the cancellation of the magnetite mining permit given to the Chinese company.  The outrage of the protestors was not difficult to understand: the mining permits, in addition to having been given without consulting the affected community, covered the very homes in which they live.

also published in verafiles