Tampakan Mining 12-Year Extension, a “sweet deal” made of deceit

Quezon City, Philippines – The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. demands from DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu an immediate investigation on the 12-Year Extension granted to Sagittarius Mines, Incorporated (SMI) and the Tampakan Mining Group for its Tampakan Copper and Gold Project as executed by Leo Jasareno, former Director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

According to the MGB Order, the 12-year extension was due to “Force Majeure” or “acts or circumstances beyond the reasonable control of contractor,” underscoring the following circumstances in the SMI case: rebellion, insurrection, civil disturbance, blockade, sabotage, any dispute with surface owners, and adverse action…

For PMPI, the said extension order reeks of deceit, as the group points out that any contract entered into by any agency of the government, or in this case the Financial/Technical Assistance Agreement between the Office of the President and the Sagittarius Mining Incorporated, should be made public.

The said extension order was made during the term of Leo Jasareno and former DENR Sec. Ramon Paje in 2016 through a so called “sweet deals” but was not made known to the public until last 2019.

Environmental groups describe the extension of the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project’s Financial/Technical Assistance Agreement as ill-natured because of the many controversies surrounding the project. The group cites its tremendous impact to the water sources and irrigation of South Cotabato and nearby Provinces, and biodiversity and territorial integrity of the Blaans’ Ancestral Domain that may lead to the demise of its of culture and Indigenous way of life, if TCGP operates.

According to Rene Pamplona, Advocacy Officer of the Convergence of Initiatives for Environmental Justice (CIEJ), an environmental group in South Cotabato, issues such as the questionable Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) conducted by NCIP, the issue on the integrity of the project as it sits above an active fault line, as well as the human rights violations against the Blaans, and the cancelled Environmental Compliance Certificate, are strong  enough reasons why the extension should not have been granted. He added that the manner by which it was granted is foul and deceitful.

The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) National Coordinator, Yolly Esguera further said extension and the FTAA itself is crazy, in a time when half of the world is declaring Climate Emergency in recognition of the potential threats to life, biodiversity, and livelihood, to a further increase in greenhouse gas emissions and global temperature. She continued that South Cotabato and nearby Provinces will not be spared from a catastrophe driven by climate change. Food and water security for Mindanao is achievable given a climate crisis if Marbel-Buluan Watershed is spared from the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project and declared as critical and locally conserved.

PMPI extends its full support to the Blaans, the Communal Irrigators’ Association, the Provincial- , Municipal- , and Barangay-level Local Government Units of South Cotabato and nearby Provinces, and the Civil Society Organizations for standing up for 25 years for the protection the Marbel-Buluan Watershed, thereby securing Mindanao’s water and food sources, against the SMI and the Tampakan Group of Companies.