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APPENDIX – HEALING MINISTRY’S COMPLETE LIBRARY
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eastwind journals 02
eastwind journals are the personal journalistic writings of Bernie Lopez, and are not part of the healing ministry. Any views or comments are his own and does not reflect those of the ministry.
PRIEST’S MURDER RELATED TO MINING PROJECT?
By Bernie Lopez
Lifted from Opinyon Magazine, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Eastwind Journals” Column, Oct. 24, 2011
Salvaged Italian priest Father Fausto Tenorio had been very vocal in protests against two mining projects that would dislocate Manobos in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato and B’laans in Tampakan, South Cotabato. Prime suspect in the murder, according to news reports, are paramilitary forces.
A barrage of Church protests was led by Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Guttierez, who said, “The government should no longer allow mining like this. I don’t know if they (mining firms) are hiring killers or whatever, but I am worried that one of us would get killed again.”
Mary Manazanan of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) said over Radio Veritas, “The killing … should signal him (Noynoy) to declare a stop on foreign mining in the country.” She cites many similar salvagings of Church workers and journalists where investigations had not yielded any results.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), a coalition of non-Catholic Christian sects, issued a statement which read, “It is not unknown that Father Tentorio spoke against military presence (in tribal villages and). He (Fr. Tentorio) spoke loudly that the state’s security forces have become the tool for people’s insecurity.”
Even Muhammad Ameen, chair of the secretariat of the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said, “This is brutality and savagery that no civilized men or groups could possible do. (Inquirer, October 19, frontpage).
The proposed Tampakan mine that Fr. Tentorio is protesting against is the largest mining project in the country today, and one of the largest worldwide, a mind-boggling 10,000 hectares, covering four provinces (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, and Saranggani) in two Regions, XI and XII. It is a project of the Swiss-British multinational Xstrata in partnership with the local Sagittarius Mining Inc. (SMI). The project has a history of human rights violations, including a tribal protestor shot by a security guard of the mining firm at point blank range, according to interviewed residents.
The proposed tailings dams, the largest in Philippine history, making the infamous Marcopper dam in Marinduque look like a kiddie pool affair, sits at the highest peak. If they burst, toxic wastes would threaten 6 rivers and more than 100,000 hectares of rich agricultural land, at the very heart of Mindanao’s bread basket.
The alleged $6 million dollars the government will earn from the 25-year permit will be dwarfed ten fold by the cost of massive agricultural dislocation in four bread basket provinces in case the dams break. Xstrata hopes to extract 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 tons of gold per year for the first 17 years of operations. The bulk of this windfall would be expatriated. The government’s $6 million would be a trickle, at such high social and economic cost to its own people.
Xstrata gave the assurance that their dams will be built at state-of-the-art global safety standards. Thirty three such ‘accident proof’ dams have burst worldwide, 16 of them in the U.S. In the Philippines, we also have a good track record of broken dams. Earthquake data reveals that the Xstrata tailings dam sits right underneath a fault. Mining firms build dams as permanent structures, but ironically they are not. In time, they succumbed to old age and die, often years after the mining firms have raked huge profits and left. One day, when everyone is asleep, the killer dam strikes, a deluge of toxic wastes cascading down productive valleys nurturing communities since pre-history, rendering them irreversibly and permanently beyond rehabilitation. Such was the case at the Stave Valley Killer Dam in Northern Italy.
Xstrata came up with a 3,000-page Environmental Impact Assessment, allegedly costing a staggering $75 million. In spite of such costs and details, Clive Wicks, environment consultant for the (International Union for the Conservation of Nature.) (IUCN), an international green organization, said the EIA was flawed, having excluded affected downstream communities as stakeholders. Wicks quotes the very EIA where engineers have warned of the grave risks of the dams.
In spite of these warnings and the fact that there is an existing Provincial ban on open-pit mining, Xstrata is not fazed, confident of its powerful influence to either skirt around the law or have it amended. Indeed, Xstrata’s influence on government is hinted by the fact that the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision saying that Xstrata’s contract with the government, the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) was unconstitutional.
Xstrata has succeeded in splintering the Lumad communities in the mine site. Those directly affected at the top of the hill refuse to be bought by Xstrata sweeteners, such as temporary employment and social benefits. Those at the bottom of the hill have embraced Xstrata, appointing their own chieftains and organizing ‘pseudo-tribal organizations’ as visible fronts of the mining project.
The project is scheduled to have its Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) approved by early 2012, the go signal for the plant to be built, which would hopefully be operational by 2016. It is not too late for Noynoy to intervene in behalf of millions of affected communities in four provinces to scrap the project completely, and pre-empt this largest every potential environment disaster. The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMP), in a press statement, is requesting Noynoy “to reconsider its recent decision of backing the formation and deployment of militias to beef up security for mining operations.” Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina accused the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of ‘washing hands’ in the affair, with Secretary Ramon Paje said, “We are harmonizing local and national policies toward a more friendly regime for the mining industry.” How about being more friendly to our very own indigenous communities.
Eastwind journals are the personal journalistic writings of Bernie Lopez, and are not part of the healing ministry. Any views or comments are his own and does not reflect those of the ministry.
WTO – ABOLISH OR AMEND
By Bernie Lopez, email@example.com
WTO chief Pascal Lamy is in a last ditch effort to save the failed Doha Round. He proposes “the WTO members to agree to bite size chunks rather than swallowing the whole indigestible whole” (Reuters). There is a scent of despair in these words. Is this the last resort? What if the chunks are also indigestible?
Until the basic issue shifts from ‘take it from me’ to ‘give and take’, until the rich nations make the sacrifices to appease the demands of the poor nations, until the poor nations also become less demanding and be more open, nothing will work. Although the nature of consensus is bilateral, the dominant force has a greater role. Although the ball is in the hands of those who authored and controlled the WTO, the underdog also has a role to help bridge the gap. Ironically, consensus is harder to achieve in an era of a global economic crunch.
The utter failure of the WTO springs from the fact that the rich nations, who authored and controlled it, had a different agenda from their rhetoric. They articulated free trade, but free trade was never fair trade. ‘Free’ resulted in more slavery and economic subservience. The goal of ‘bridging the rich-poor gap’ they articulated resulted in further widening. Their motive was more of control, not more of sharing. They seduced the weaker nations into their game, where they were in charge. It was in fact more of coercion than seduction. The WTO rhetoric was “join us or suffer isolation”, forcing poor nations to the bargaining table they knew very little about. When the poor nations began to see the light and to discern the true nature of the ‘game’, it was the beginning of the end.
So the failure of the Uruguay Round was followed by the failure of the Doha Round. Seattle and Hongkong became battlefields. It seems it is the nature of Man to fail to achieve the elusive cooperation-not-competition, the sharing-not-the-greed. Sincerity was replaced by eloquence. The agenda was reduced to ‘convince’ with new types of ‘creative’ options, not to ‘appease’ or compromise. It seems Man will never learn to live in a community of harmony. It seems the true nature of Man is conflict and war, whether in territory or commerce.
At the heart of the issue of ‘compromisability’ is the fact that highly-paid WTO consultants are hired by governments to protect its interest. They are by nature attack dogs ready to defend patrimony rather than succumb to compromise. The WTO therefore is a forum of attack dogs. There is very little compromise environment. It is a Machiavellian court of expert lawyers and traders. Poor nations were not even able to afford getting expensive WTO consultants, or set up a WTO office. Would that these governments hire a different type of animal for a different type of WTO forum where the primacy is compromise rather than non-negotiability.
The rise of the economies in the East and the decline of the economies in the West, the radical and rapid shift in balance of global economies, seem to make WTO less relevant and acceptable. The much simpler bilateral trade is growing by leaps and bounds as the complex unilateral forum breaks down. One-on-one seems more practical than all-in-one.
We are now in an era where, if WTO fails once more in the renewed Doha, it will die a slow death. Abolish or amend are the only recourse. There is no need to abolish because it will die a natural death. The last glimmer of hope lies in the word ‘amend’, which is more of the heart rather than of the mind. Lamy’s quantitative divide and reconcile will not work. We are beyond the cerebral formulas to make trade free and fair all at once. The issue is qualitative, not quantitative. We are at a point where the acid test is in our gentle hearts, not in our shrewd minds. How do you qualitatively ‘amend’ WTO from the heart? How do we reconcile the ‘non-negotiable’ to the ‘negotiable’? These are the ultimate questions. firstname.lastname@example.org