Wednesday, September 2, 2009
THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN MEMBERS
MUNICIPALITY OF GUIUAN
Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Thru: Mr. Rectito Melquiadez
Sangguinang Bayan Secretary
Municipality of Guiuan
Attention: Hon. Gorgonio Cabacaba
Sangguniang Bayan Member
Chairman – Committee on Environmental Protection
The Honorable Sangguniang Bayan Members of Guiuan,
This is in connection with the abrupt passage and endorsement of related documents relative to opening, re-opening and towards continuous mining operations in Homonhon Island. We understand that you are fully aware of the situation in Homonhon Island. But, please be reminded that:
Sec. 2.c, Sec. 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code of 1991 must be complied with prior to any approval of projects or programs that could have adverse effect to the environment and to its people such like on mining.
As to our knowledge, there haven’t been any ‘public consultation’ that had taken place prior to any mining related issues specifically in Brgys. Casuguran and Cagusu-an, where, as the phrase ‘public consultation’ connotes, it should be openly done in public places and open to the public.
LGUs are representatives of their constituents but they don’t constitute the decision of the general public so that on matters where public interests are at stake, decisions must be drawn out with the consent of the people affected.
On our viewpoint, as permanent residents of the Island, Homonhon is environmentally critical area for mining operations specially in medium and large scale basis so that prior to any passage, endorsement or approval for any mining firm to operate in Homonhon including Manicani Island, an Environmental Impact Statement from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), along with the ecological profile of the area, shall be presented and discussed to the affected communities as provided for in PD No. 1586.
in Sec. 19 of RA 7942 otherwise known as “The Mining Act of 1995” states that among the areas closed to mining are (1) ‘historical sites’, where we believe that we all see and incorporate in us the essence of the Magellen’s Landing Event, and (2) ‘waterways’ where we consider those as the bloodlines of life in the Island.
The valuation of the resources that shall be depleted or exhausted due to mining operations must be accounted for. How much revenue shall our government earn during the lifetime of the mine and how much loss shall it bear to the affected communities? For drinking water alone, if a person consumes one liter a day, at an estimated 7,000 population in Homonhon Island, that could be 7,000 liters consumption a day. If we valuate that to Two Pesos per liter, that would equal to P14,000.00/day. For one month, it would be P420,000.00 and for one year, its roughly P5,040,000.00 and that’s for drinking water alone at a price of P2.00/lt. Multiply the amount to the life of the mine plus another 10 years beyond when mine rehabilitation is taking place if it will indeed be rehabilitated, how much that would be and compare it to the taxes shall our government receive and the benefit the affected community that may enjoy. What about its other domestic uses, cooking, bathing, washing clothes, etc…..? How about farms and other livelihood of the island folks that shall be affected and disturbed by the said mining activity, we should valuate them to see the difference.
We understand that it’s within our knowledge that there’s a standing Provincial Ordinance passed and approved by of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Eastern Samar imposing Moratorium on Medium and Large Scale Mining within the whole Province, hence, any endorsement or approval of mining within of this kind shall be contrary to said Ordinance.
Railroading for mining in Homonhon Island without the benefit of due process could only cause chaos and disagreement among its people and other responsible persons or groups. Before, potable water was free everywhere, now, its being bought and its costly, shall we too desire that in due time, also the air that we breath shall be purchased and be available in the market for the people to continue living?
With these, we the concerned groups urged the Local Government Units of the Municipality of Guiuan and the Province of Eastern Samar and all other government agencies concerned including the Barangay Governments of the Eight (8) Barangays in Homonhon Island, to treat any mining project proposal within the bounds of Homonhon with much caution and prudence and defer any passage of resolutions or endorsements until after its people are fully afforded with information about the projects’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the ecological profile of the area, and until after that the social acceptability may be resolved.
We hope for your preferential action on this matter.
We thank you.
For the earth!
VILLARDO C. ABUEME
Human Rights Education Staff
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Homonhon Environment Rescuers organization (HERO)
Homonhon Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Hon. Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan – Mayor of Guiuan
Hon. Ben Evardone – Governor of Eastern Samar
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Eastern Samar – thru the Chairman Committee on Environmental Protection.
The Barangay Council of the Eight Barangays of Homonhon Island
Other concerned Government Agencies
Victims: 1. Villardo “Billy” C. Abueme
2. Rosario G. Abueme
3. Anito C. Abueme
4. Nida C. Abueme
5. Diomedes C. Abueme
6. Roque Lariestan
7. Martin L. Dagamina
8. Fidel Garado
9. Isidoro Garado
10. Valeriano Garado
11. Arsenio Garado
12. Genaro Abrajano
13. Dennis Garado
14. Sofronio Bagares
15. Diego Palasan
16. Asuncion Prieto
17. Dionesio Urbano
Case: Arson and Robbery
Place of Incident: Homonhon Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Date of Preliminary Investigation: March 24, 2009
Complainant: Engr. Rogelio C. Frequencia
Project Development Manager
Mt. Sinai Exploration and Development Corporation
Motive: To restrain or silence anti-mining, environmental protection and human rights advocates from publicly engaging on such calls and actions.
Account of the mass action:
Around two hundred (200) protesters from the different barangays of Homonhon Island and some religious groups from Surigao who happened to be in the island convened at Brgy. Cagusu-an in the morning of August 09, 2008, made a short program and at around 10:00 a.m., the group marched towards the two mining camps, one at the hilltop camp of Mt. Sinai Exploration and Development Corporation (MSEDC) and another at the core of the mountain where Cambayas Mining Corporation (CMC) holds its office.
The causes for the mass action were as follow: 1. intrusion of these mining companies digging holes and posting “No Trespassing” signs within the farms and farmlands of the people in the island; 2. operating without proper consultation with the community where many of the farmers have standing Certificate of Stewardship Contract awarded by the DENR; 3. posting of guards and blockades at all access roads to other barangays that traverses through their mining claims; 4. passivity of many barangay officials from the calls of their constituency to hold a public hearing regarding these activities; people of Homonhon suspect that they were colluding with the mining firms; 5. ill effects of mining to the environment, livelihood, health, etc….; 6. invasion of the Islands autonomy that mining personnel acted to be the kings in the Island; 7. the apprehension that many of local political leaders are selling out Homonhon Island in favor of mining firms for their own benefit and that local political leaders themselves bear interest of owning a mining operation in the Island; and 8. absence of respect, protection and fulfillment of the peoples rights living in remote rural areas such as Homonhon from the concerned government agencies.
The protesters arrived at MSEDC’s Camp at the hilltop where they were joined by the parish priest and other people from Brgy. Casuguran. They demanded a dialogue with the staff/guard but no one came out to meet with them. Some protesters visited a drilled pit nearby while the others chanted “No to Mining in Homonhon Isalnd” and aired their reasons why mining need not to be pursued in the Island. One from the protesters had taken one 2” diameter G.I. pipe of around forty feet long from the piles of pipes placed outside the fence of their bunkhouse with the intent to be used as an exhibit to the people of Homonhon Island. It was later posted it at the public plaza of Brgy. Cagusu-an and mounted with a placard that reads “ine iton kahalarum hit tuna hit aton bukid nga ira pagkukuha-on” (This signifies the depth of our mountain soil that they are going to take!).
From MSEDC’s camp, the group proceeded towards the camp of CMC, a distance of around more or less two kilometers from MSEDC’s camp. Along the way, the protesters passed through a makeshift guard house left by the guard upon seeing the protesters coming. They noticed the wooden blockade already removed. Protesters who had just witnessed with the arrogance of these mining firms were provoked and have shown outraged by shouting “Tanan hit tawo ha Homonhon nga naruruyag hit mina, palayason!” ( All people in Homonhon who favor mining operations should stay out of the Island).
At CMC’s camp, the group had a confrontation with one of the mining firm’s staff, a Filipino-Chinese national who claimed to be an accountant of CMC. Two other Chinese looking men stayed away from the crowd. Many of the protesters began denouncing and lambasting the actions of the mining firms in the island expressing their disgust and disappointment. The people’s emotions were demonstrated further by venting their anger to the things within the premises that provoked their freedom of movement within the Island and curtail their rights to their means and sources of subsistence such as the “No Trespassing signs”. The protesters claim that they meant to leave marks as a show of their indignation over the mining firm’s disregard to their dignity as human beings which by their interests had been clearly disrespected. The group declared their strong resolve to continue struggling against mining because, through the many experiences from the previous mining operations and the ill effects that are being endured and suffered by the Island’s populace before, at the present and undoubtedly over a long period of time in the future, the group exclaimed that mining in the Homonhon Island in any form is a menace to the whole Island, and an abuse and injustice to human life and dignity and the environment.
The crowd voluntarily dispersed at around 1:30 pm.
The following day, August 10, 2008, based on personal accounts of witnesses, a group of masked men of around 12 persons, individually carrying bags, entered the barangay proper of Brgy. Cagusu-an. The people found out that they were led by certain Roger Frequenza, alleged mining engineer of MSEDC. The masked men scattered themselves within the barangay plaza while Mr. Frequenza and his presumed bodyguards went to the house of HERO President Billy Abueme. The two entered the gate and knocked at the door. That time however Abueme has has already left for Guiuan more or less 30 minutes before they came. The two then went to the house of our HERO leader Fidel Garado. The two engaged Garado in a confrontation. Before leaving Frequenza allegedly leave a word saying that “gawin niyo ang gusto niyo at gagawin naming ang gusto naming” (do what you want to do, we will do our own!).
They also went to uproot the G.I. pipe that was posted the other day by the protesters in the plaza and took it with them as narrated by a very reliable sources.
Commentaries and calls in favor of the protesters on the mass action in Homonhon was heard many times over a local radio station based in Tacloban City.
After what happened, the provincial government of Eastern Samar acted on the claims of the protesters and conducted an ocular inspection on most of the mining sites in Homonhon Island on August 22, 2008. The provincial government upon their investigation validated the claim of the protesters that most of the mining firms have been operating illegally. They have ordered all mining firms in Homonhon Island to stop their mining related activities until after all their necessary permits prior to their activities may be secured. This action however was viewed by the people of Homonhon to be not a penalty but merely an order to follow the legal procedures before they could re-open their operations.
Following these events, the firms countered by filing a case against the group of protesters charging them with Arson and Robbery at the Guiuan Municipal Trial Court.
Villardo “Billy” C. Abueme
Homonhon Environment Rescuers Organization
Homonhon Island Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Email Add: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, April 3, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
HOMONHON ISLAND A FIELD APPRAISAL
A massive deterioration of the
Mining operations in the Island resulted in heavy siltation on creeks and waterways, drying out and possible contamination of water supply; the corrals and reefs and sea beds causing the nearby seas to blur and there, wiping out stable marine lives and driving out fishes to far oceans, hence depleting the income of fisher folks. The denudation of the mountains causes soil erosion and imminent landslides and its outright exposure of the soil to sunlight triggers extensive heat that may somehow contribute to the worsening state of global warming, the displacement and extinction of birds and other wild life that once hover and dwelt in the Island which presence had contributed a great deal for its sound and balanced eco-system. It also resulted in the division among residents, and conflict within the families and friends. It is also figured out as an avenue for corruption.
Alarmed by the drastic move of these mining firms/entities, pro-mining residents, some high profile local officials propelling for an abrupt mineral extraction in the Island, concerned residents with the support of the church, some LGU members and other alliances spearheaded by Homohon Environment Rescuers Organization – HERO, are taking all the necessary steps and available means to stop and permanently close the Island from mining through passing several petitions, other valid and legal means such as seeking support and promotion of agriculture and aquaculture, reforestation, eco and historical tourism and official declaration from National Historical Commission making Homonhon Island as one of the most important landmark on Philippine history.
Located at the southeastern part mainland of Guiuan,
For these, WE, HOMONHONANONS, hereby solicits and pray for all possible support and assistance from all Filipinos especially our Church leaders and concerned government agencies to (1) help us make a call to all concerned government agencies to bequeath Homonhon a mining-free Island, because, mining in the Island never addresses to the development of the place and its people but it poses dangers and threats and violates the rights and interests of its people for their manner and means of subsistence and existence; instead, give assistance for its agricultural development and make the Island as the agricultural basin in the region and promote eco and historical tourism; (2) help us in pursuing our national government and the National Historical Commission to create a Bill officially recognizing Homonhon Island as one of the most important landmark on Philippine History for it was where Ferdinand Magellan and his crew did first landed on March 16,1521 that leads to the discovery of the Philippines and give birth to Christianity over the land. Then and there, everyone, most especially the national government would be obliged to care, preserve and protect the
VILLARDO C. ABUEME
Homonhon Environment Rescuers Organization