Lapu-Lapu on the Red List

by Henrylito D. Tacio The Philippines is home to at least 27 species of grouper, more popularly known as lapu-lapu. Unfortunately, six of these species are now considered as either “vulnerable” or “near-threatened,” according to a report which appeared in “Philippine Daily Inquirer” recently. According to Ronnel W. Domingo, author of the report, the 27 species were identified by Apolinario V. Yambot through “molecular inventory.” For the first time in the Philippines, DNA fingerprinting and barcoding was used in identifying the species. “Through the database that we came up with based on the study, we found that some species that fish growers thought were not available locally were, in fact, thriving in our waters,” Yambot, head of the Biotechnology and Analytical Laboratory Project of the Central Luzon State University, was quoted as saying. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species listed six of the identified species as “vulnerable” or “near-threatened.” It includes humpback grouper which thrives in the waters of Davao, Zamboanga, and Cebu. Domingo listed the following species to be also on the red list: black saddled coral grouper, orange-spotted grouper, black marbled grouper, Malabar grouper, and leopard coral grouper. It is now a common knowledge: Chinese restaurants are not complete without a bubbling tankful of grouper. Asia’s most demanded reef fish, grouper fetches up to P6.000 per piece in Hong Kong and Singapore. In the blockbuster movie, “Drunken Master,” steamed grouper was one of the many dishes Jackie Chan’s character requests during an attempted meal-theft. Most of the fish comes from the Philippines, as the country is considered the center of...

Transformative education and social engagement have great synergy

How we manage our natural resources on this planet, and do so in an inclusive way, is the challenge of present and coming generations.  A three-day conference on Transformative Land and Water Governance held in the Philippines in May sought to address this challenge. The conference discussed the importance of scientific methods and the critical challenge of addressing human and environmental needs, the questions of sustainability, vulnerability and risk.  This clearly engages the values and capacities of the youth today and their perception, which is diminishing with increasing youth unemployment. The learnings and experiences of different stakeholders to transform land and water governance were highlighted, emphasizing the need for values along with science in addressing the concerns in our environment. The conference, which was held from May 21 to 23, drew 100 participants.  It builds on previous conferences co-organized by the Jesuit institutions Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Cagayan-Xavier University, University of Namur, Gembloux Agro Tech and Environmental Science for Social Change talking through topics related to vulnerability to resilience, migration and soil fertility assessment. There was considerable Jesuit presence, with representatives from Environmental Science for Social Change, Manila Observatory, Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Cagayan-Xavier University, Loyola House of Studies, Arrupe International Residence (Philippines); University of Namur (Belgium); St Xavier’s College Kolkata (India); Jesuit Social Services (Australia); Jesuit Province Australia; Jesuit Social Services (Timor Leste); Jesuit Service (Cambodia); Jesuit Refugees Service (Indonesia); Social Apostolate-Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific; and  Jesuit European Social Service (Brussels, Belgium)). Andreas Carlgren, former Environment Minister of Sweden and now with the Newman Institute, the first Jesuit University in Sweden, was the...

Jesuit Asia Pacific Conference: Communities We Support

Indigenous Pulangiyen Community, Philippines The indigenous Pulangiyen community in Bendum, Mindanao, practices agroforestry and assists in the natural regeneration of forests along the Pantadon Range.  The youth in Bendum do their part by removing external pressures e.g. weeds and biotic interference, applying controlled disturbances to trigger germination of native species and preparing the germination site. With the support of Flights for Forests, the youth will be able to hold on-site workshops to share their assisted natural regeneration practices with youth in other Pulangiyen villages along the Upper Pulangi Watershed.  The community will also be able to establish tree nurseries. source: http://sjapc.net/what-we-do/ecology/flights-forests/communities-we-support#Philippines Share...

ADDU High School tops National Search for Eco-friendly Schools

The High School (HS) Unit of the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) was proclaimed the winner of the National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools, High School Division, at an awarding event on 20 November at SM City North EDSA in Quezon City. A plaque and a cash prize of Php 50,000 were received by Fr. Michael I. Pineda SJ, HS principal. “Winning the 2013 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools is our contribution to the Church, the Society of Jesus, and the Ateneo de Davao University’s mission of a more vigorous environmental protection,” Pineda said. “It is also a sign of hope. The national award shows that we can instruct and form future leaders who will help heal and save the wounded creation,” Pineda added. The ADDU High School forms students to be men and women for others and for the environment through participation in treeplanting, mangrove reforestation, and coastal cleanups. In 2011, ADDU took its green initiatives to the next level by launching its greening program called Ecoteneo, beginning with Ecological Solid Waste Management. The high school students, in rotating assignments by classrooms, monitor the waste segregation bins to ensure that waste materials are placed in the proper bins and that liquids are removed from plastic bottles. With effective segregation and a shift away from plastics as food packaging, within a year residuals were reduced from 57 percent of its waste stream to 38 percent. In 2012, junkfood and softdrinks were banned from the campus for both health and environmental reasons. Also in 2012, Ateneo HS students shared the school’s segregation practice and donated segregation bins...

Ateneo Institute of Anthropology and TroPICS Research Brief: Mining and Water Governance

Executive Summary The multi-billion Tampakan Copper-Gold Mining project will take a serious toll on water and forest resources, especially in the provinces of South Cotabato and Davao del Sur in Mindanao. To protect these resources, the South Cotabato provincial government banned the use of open pit mining as provided in its 2010 Environment Code. In 2012, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) denied the project proponent’s application for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), citing the ban. In February 2013, the DENR, however, approved the ECC subject to stringent conditions that the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) has to comply. This research brief reviews the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes and results for Tampakan mining project. It incorporates key findings from a stakeholders’ analysis and conflict and advocacy review. It concludes with a set of insights and recommendations relevant to mining and water governance. The full document can be downloaded via this link. Share...

Mining and Water Use in South Cotabato and Davao del Sur

MINING AND WATER USE IN SOUTH COTABATO AND DAVAO DEL SUR Summary of the presentation of the research results delivered last 19 June 2013 in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. Leah Vidal, Ph. D. (Ateneo Institute of Anthropology) Maricel Hilario-Patiño (Ateneo Institute of Anthropology) Lourdes Simpol, Ph. D. (Tropical Institute for Climate Studies)   A. The Mining Project and Locale One of the difficulties encountered during the beginning of this research was the absence of maps. So, maps were created to visually illustrate the complexity and gravity of the impact of mining, not only on the physical but on the political and cultural landscape as well. The locale of the Tampakan Copper– Gold Mining Project can be divided into three major areas depending on its project components. These are the Final Mining Area, the Resettlement Area, as well as the Off-lease Infrastructure Area. The final mining area, or FMA includes the areas covered by the open pit, waste rock storage facility, waste rock conveyor, tailings storage facility, ore conveyor, concentrator, freshwater dam, and other related structures. The resettlement areas are the places where the people who will be displaced as a result of the project will be relocated. The Off-lease infrastructures or OLI include the slurry pipeline to transport the concentrate produced at the mine site to the filter plant which will dewater the concentrate, a coal fire power station, transmission lines from the coal fire power station to the mining areas, and a port facility (http://www.smi.com.ph/EN/OurProject/Pages/InfrastructureOutsidetheMineSi…). The Final Mining Area (FMA) covers approximately 9,605 hectares of land located between the quadrant boundaries of Kiblawan municipality of Davao del Sur...

A Critical Response to Babe Romualdez’s column in the Philippine Star (Mining at a Standstill, 2 July 2013)

Dear Mr. Romualdez: Your adamant pro-mining stance continues to puzzle me.  Since so many of my friends and family have taken such diametrically opposite and passionate sides, I set out to make a deeper study on this volatile issue.  I may not be learned enough to argue all the details, but I have sincerely tried to be objective about studying the effects of mining on this country. I understand that the Philippines may be losing revenues, actual and projected, by pausing to study this too, but if the gains come at the cost of destroying the natural beauty and fragile stability of this volcanic archipelago forever, I am surprised that you continue to be so inflexible on your stance. “Forever” simply does not allow for “second chances.”  And your column in yesterday’s paper contained a few statements I would like to probe a bit more: BR: “But one department that really needs PNoy’s nudge and attention is the DENR, with the country losing out more than $1.5 billion in potential foreign investments from the mining industry, which continues to be at a standstill due to allowing the NGOs – who do nothing but complain and not pay taxes mind you – to unduly influence Secretary Mon Paje.” What does paying taxes have to do with complaining?  Do you have to be an MVP or a Henry Sy before you have a right to be heard? Then somebody better tell that to Cardinal Tagle or my dad, both of whom have copious comments well worth listening to, despite a far smaller net worth. Neither am I under the impression that Sec....

On-Line Petition calling for the Cancellation of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) of the SMI-Xstrata Tampakan Copper-Gold Mine Project

Please support the online campaign calling for the cancellation of the Tampakan FTAA. Petisyon ni Fr. Oliver Castor, CSsR Quezon City, Philippines Despite the existing ban on open pit mining issued by the local government unit of South Cotabato, the residents and indigenous peoples community are still under grave threat from the world’s fouth largest copper producer Xtrata Copper and its Philippine contractor SMI Philippines. This is because of the existence of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement signed by the Office of the President that allows SMI to large-scale exploration, development and utilization of an estimated average of 360,000 ounces of gold and 375,000 tons of copper per annum within a mine area covering approximately 10,000 ha (SMI 2013: 11). The open pit would reach an extent of 500 ha and a depth of 785 m while the topsoil stockpile would cover an area of 5 ha and the pit ore stockpile 49 ha (AECOM 2011: 2-9). If realized, the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mine would be the largest open-pit mine in the Philippines and one of the largest of its kind worldwide. It straddles the jurisdiction of two regions, four provinces, four municipalities and nine barangays. The area is predominantly characterized by rainforest. About 5,000 people – approximately 1,000 households – inhabit the affected area and will require resettlement of inhabitants majority belonging to indigenous communities An independent Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) on Tampakan conducted by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) exposed various moments of government deficiencies referring to the human rights of people possibly affected by the Tampakan Project. The HRIA observed a context which...