Pnoy’s real bosses - the imperialist large-scale mining companies - are on a rampage in Mindanao!

Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)
NDF-Mindanao
April 14, 2012

We believe that mining is legitimate for providing needed metals for the development of our industry. In this context, mining must, first and foremost, serve the interest of the majority of the Filipino people, and only secondarily to foreign interests. However, it is evident that P-Noy favors his real bosses, destructive, oppressive and exploitative large-scale imperialist mining companies, which plunder our finite mineral resources for their greed for super-profit, over the interest of his “bosses” – the Filipino people.

To name a few, destructive large-scale mining firms in actual operation in Southern Mindanao are the Canadian-owned Russell Mines and Minerals–NADECOR, Philco Corp.-Canada’s Sur American Mining Corp., and the Apex-Crew Gold (Canada); in the Caraga region, already in operation are the Zamora group-owned Nickel Asia Corporation and its subsidiaries, the Japanese-owned Sumitomo Nickel Acid Leaching Plant, and the San Roque Minerals Inc. (SRMI); in western Mindanao, the Australian-owned Toronto Ventures Inc. (TVI); in far southern Mindanao, the biggest mining company in the country and in Southeast Asia today, the SMI-Xstrata with a total capital of $5.9 billion, is operating; and many others in the island. More than a hundred large-scale mining firms are still awaiting either the approval or renewal of their Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) applications. Most of these companies employ the most destructive open-pit method of extracting minerals.

In a recent mining summit, large-scale mining proponents claimed that mining will make the Philippines great. But, where will large-scale imperialist-big bourgeois comprador mining take us? If we recall, immediately after World War II, US monopoly capitalists exclaimed that the Philippines can resuscitate its economy through export-oriented logging. But, five to six decades later, the logging industry only generated profit for the imperialists (US, Japan) and for big bourgeois comprador/landlord families (Puyat, Soriano, Enrile, Roa, Plaza, etc.), but failed to establish our national industry and left majority of Filipinos even more impoverished. After denuding and depleting forest resources, logging later gave way to the land monopoly of agri-business plantations that are similarly destructive. Now, they would once again like us to believe that only through an extractive and export-oriented mining industry can the country surge forward. But, this is the same old deception.

Gerard H. Brimo, Director of the Chamber of Mines, claimed that only 0.2% of the country’s total landmass will be utilized for large-scale mining, but this is completely down playing the destruction and denudation of hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests, the poisoning of agricultural farms, the siltation of major river tributaries due to mining siltation and wastes, the contamination of the sea, and the killing of marine life. This wanton plunder has even resulted to major disasters in Mindanao, as we have witnessed in the typhoon Sendong tragedy, the landslides in Pantukan, Compostela Valley province, the huge land cracks in South Cotabato, and the massive erosion in the provinces of Surigao, Agusan and other areas where large-scale mining operates.

Proponents of large-scale mining bragged that “mining would create hundreds of thousands of jobs…” But, with more or less 30 large-scale mining currently in operation nationwide, they can only employ a few thousands, which is far less than what small-scale mining can absorb. If we are to believe their understated estimate, small-scale miners, numbering between 200,000 and 300,000, employ much more, yet they are ones threatened with outright eviction and closure by the Aquino government.

According to them, with large-scale mining, more infrastructure and social services will be provided for, but the truth is that roads and basic utilities such as water and electricity supplies are built basically for providing transport, energy and other operational needs of the large-scale mining industry; the interest of the people is only incidental. The voracious consumption of energy of these destructive multinational mining companies is even one of the causes of the power crisis in Mindanao.

Philip Romualdez, Chamber of Mines President, opined that “small–scale mining must be subjected to the same regulatory net as large-scale miners.” But, considering their propensity to damage the environment, these large-scale mining companies are the ones that must be subjected to stringent policies, more than small-scale mining. In fact, it must be taxed heavily and immediately rather than offer them tax holidays, considering their monopolistic control and plunder of the country’s natural resource, vis-à-vis the meagre income of millions of small-scale miners put together.

For his part, Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Philex Mining Corp., pushed that “the solution is not to ban mining but to control it.” True enough, mining should not be banned, but regulated. The problem, however, is that the reactionary government itself is party to the social and environmental crime of these big mining companies, thus there can never be a serious and effective control of destructive mining. Imperialist mining will rapidly deplete our irreplaceable mineral wealth, leaving us only waste and degraded land, and none for our own national industrialization. If left unstopped, the future is truly bleak for the next generation of Filipinos.

Leo L. Jasareno, Director of the Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said that “…left on the ground, these minerals cannot generate wealth for the Filipino people,” and that “the country needs wealth.” In truth, the imperialist and the big bourgeois comprador monopoly of the mining industry does not generate wealth for the Filipino people but for super-profit. For his part, Christian Monsod said that “…money for mining must be used to create new capital.” It seems correct, but the new capital created, however, is monopolized by the imperialist and the big bourgeois comprador, and none of it is transformed into national capital. In fact, Solita Monsod argued that “the mining industry [only] accounted for 1.1 percent of total GDP” in the year 2009. And, no less than Jasareno himself said that “[the] GDP contribution of mining has not been able to breach the 1.5 percent barrier for a long time now.” Thus, mining must primarily correspond to the need of putting up our national industry, and, only secondarily to export, as we also need surplus to generate other necessary capital.

According to Christian Monsod, one of the conditions for mining to be beneficial is when “the country gets the full share of value of extracted minerals.” But, apart from enjoying tax holidays, big miners can easily evade the true tax value due for government. This only proves that large-scale mining promotes the culture of corruption, slithering from the higher down to the lower levels of bureaucracy. In fact, Malacanang as the approving power for large-scale mining gets the lion’s share of the bribe, while making sure that LGUs and other government agencies like the DENR, the MGB and even the AFP can still make a killing on small-scale miners.

In direct violation of their Constitution, the US-Ramos regime passed the Mining Act of 1995, allowing the 100% ownership of mining by foreign entities. This treasonous sell-out of our patrimony and sovereignty is continued by the succeeding subservient regimes, and is overzealously implemented by the Aquino government, relying heavily on the armed apparatus of the fascist state.

Thus, large-scale mining means militarization. The AFP is the biggest state apparatus protecting these companies. The massive, concentrated and widespread military campaigns, RSOT/COPD, and combat operations in the countryside are designed to ensure the uninterrupted entry and operations of these companies. In the name of super-profit, the AFP employs extra-judicial killings (EJK), psy-war operations, and indiscriminate bombings, cannon fire and strafing, terrorizing numerous peasant and Lumad communities. Early this year, militarization where these mining firms operate have dislocated over 750 families or about 4,000 individuals.

These large-scale mining companies deliberately hire retired military colonels and generals as chief security officers, and some companies, even hire both retired and active military officers as company managers and supervisors, thus militarizing the entire company organization, such as the case of the Toronto Ventures, Inc. in the Zamboanga peninsula. Most of these big mining firms employ AFP, PNP and CAFGU troops. Small-scale mining is also militarized by the incursion of the AFP, PNP, CAFGU and goons in order to extort, peddle illicit drugs, promote gambling and prostitution, engage in banditry and other criminal activities.

Thus, the revolutionary movement’s policy is to ban, dismantle and disable multinational mining companies that do not comply with the rules and regulations of the people’s democratic government, disregard and violate the welfare and interests of the people, and conduct abusive and antagonistic actions against the people. These companies must seek the permission of the people’s democratic government and discuss with them on how and why their companies should be allowed to operate. The New People’s Army is tasked to conduct punitive actions against foreign mining corporations that take for granted the revolutionary political authority and continually violate these policies. All armed personnel or organizations protecting these companies are legitimate military targets of the people’s army.

Small-scale mining groups, while being allowed to operate with limits, should comprehensively understand the ill-effects of uncontrolled and unhampered mining, and are encouraged to establish a self-sufficient economy mainly based on agriculture. We call on them to unite with the people to fight against the onslaught of destructive large-scale mining.

We are not in favor of a total ban in mining. We need mining, but only to a degree congruent with actual social need, and never for the greed of profit. Recycling cannot cope with the social need for metals. The “total mining ban” position will exclude the small-scale miners and their dependents from participating in the struggle against imperialist-big bourgeois comprador plunder, environmental destruction, exploitation and oppression.

The NDFP-Mindanao, therefore, calls on the people of Mindanao and the entire country as well to unite and collectively oppose the continuing oppression, exploitation, plunder and environmental degradation by these large-scale foreign mining companies.