By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
At last, the Mount Pulag article I and my friend Harley Palangchao wrote was published by the well known media institution – the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). The article was an output of training on investigative reporting sponsored by the said institution. For the whole article and the accompanying pictures, you can visit www.pcij.org.
The article exposed in detail how the three mining corporations were given the go signal by the national office of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) to process their mine explorations at the foot of Mount Pulag, despite the area being protected area. In this case, not even state law or laws to protect protected areas are observed. It is interesting to know these conflicting policies of the state, the policies being invoked by the MGB, in this case, which was an eye opener for us.
The corporations involved were the Columbus Resources Inc., Magellan Metals Inc., and Al Magan Mining and Exploration Corp. (AMMEC); Columbus and Magellan are 99.9 percent foreign equity where both are controlled by Singaporean-based Magellan Resources Pte. Ltd.; and, AMMEC is a Filipino-owned and controlled by Pastor Quinto, who based on MGB-CAR documents, has many mining applications in the region. This is a concrete issue – of not only on environment – but sovereignty to control our natural resources.
Interestingly, interviews done with the local folk and local government agencies exposed the mining explorations on the foot of Mount Pulag. The sentiments of the people against mining were very strong. I learned that the areas applied for by the three corporations were explored in the past and people saw with their naked eyes the effects of such exploration. One of the three corporations explored the area while seeking the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the people. How they did such condemnable act is for you to read in the detail of the story.
I made jokes too with local folk. The head of the MGB national office, who gave the go signal for the exploration, traces his ancestors to Bokod. Kabagian da. He is MGB national director Horacio Cosalan Ramos. In Ramos’ two memoranda though, he invoked a decision of the Supreme Court with similar issue – that an applied area covered by patented mining claims are deemed excluded from the reservation. The claims have allegedly transformed the area as Mineral Land since staking of such patentable mining claims under a colonial law – the Philippine Bill of 1902.
Even the bio-diversity in Mount Pulag and in the areas in Bokod was discussed in detail in the said investigative story. The same as to the nature and role of the area as the water sources of the dams – Magat, Ambuklao, Binga, and San Roque – are well discussed too.
The story is an output of struggling local journalists who are trying their very best to write on hot issues. We encourage everyone to visit the above website and read the whole article to appreciate its contents. Why not give it a try folk. # www.nordis.net