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Scientists slam Marcos Jr’s plan to review BNPP project revival

AGHAM recommends ‘sustainable, safe, accessible, affordable and reliable’ energy sources instead

A science and technology group refuted president-elect Ferdinand Marco’s Jr’s pronouncement that a refurbished Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) may prevent an energy crisis and may even usher in rapid industrialization in the country.

AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology said that the supply of electricity is not the most pressing problem in the country but its cost to the consumers—the most expensive in Southeast Asia.

“The current energy crisis is a result of the liberalized policy implemented since the 1990’s that allowed the privatization of our energy facilities and deregulation of the energy industry,” AGHAM said.

“This led to relentless increase in the cost of electricity, unstable power supply, and further increased our dependency to imported fossil fuel such as coal. The 621-megawatt nuclear plant will not resolve the above problem but will further aggravate it,” the group added.

AGHAM said private ownership of electricity generation, transmission and retailing in the country has driven its cost unjustly high.

“As long as the [privatization] policy…will not be reversed, private and foreign corporations will continue to monopolize our industry for their own interest and profit, and industrializing the Philippines is not part of it,” AGHAM said.

Reopening the BNPP in the framework of a liberalized energy industry will not serve its purpose of providing lower cost of electricity and it will not redound to industrialization, the scientists said.

Peddling to foreign investors

The group reacted to a pronouncement made by the president-elect after his meeting with South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Inchul last week.

Marcos Jr said that he is reviewing earlier recommendations made to revive the BNPP.

“We discussed with the South Korean ambassador their offer and their nuclear power expert has already visited the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, to see what else could be done, whether or not it could be revived or if a new one should be built,” Marcos said.

“We revived the discussion. Although they have come before, we will now study their recommendation, their findings and we will see if we can still apply,” he added.

Earlier, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) said the BNPP can be rehabilitated in four to five years at a cost of about $1.0 billion.

AGHAM however slammed the pronouncement, saying Marcos is already peddling the project to foreign investors even before assuming the presidency.

“[He] denies the fact that the BNPP is already antiquated, faulty, dangerous and has served as a milking cow for corrupt practices. The risk of allowing an old facility with around 4,000 technical defects to operate would be high. It is also crucial for the government to present concrete for the disposal of spent uranium fuel,” it said.

The BNPP was constructed under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Sr that cost Filipino taxpayers a total of $2.2 billion.

The succeeding Corazon Aquino government mothballed the BNPP, citing massive corruption in the project.

In June 2021, the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed a Sandiganbayan decision finding corruption in the BNPP project and ordered Marcos crony Herminio Desini’s estate to pay the Philippine government PHP1 billion in exemplary damages.

Desini brokered the USD2.2-billion BNPP project to American nuclear power company Westinghouse Electrical Corporation.

FACT CHECK: Marcos Jr. claims politics behind mothballing of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

Enough supply

AGHAM said a nuclear power plant is unnecessary, asserting the country still has enough power supply.

“In 2020, the country has an installed capacity of 26,250 megawatts (MW) with a dependable capacity of 23,410 MW while the peak demand is just 15,282 MW in the same period. We have more than enough in the coming years,” it said.

The group said the Philippines has other energy options that are sustainable, safe, accessible, affordable and reliable to address expected power demand of the country.

“While we recognize the fact that nuclear energy is a technology option, it is not a good option and the country can do without it. We should give more weight to the safety and lives of our people, environmental costs, and its social and economic viability,” AGHAM said.

It added that the country must instead “harness indigenous energy resources and move away from imported, dirty, and dangerous fuels such as coal and nuclear.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Scientists urge greater support to poor sectors as UN warns of unprecedented global warming

Philippine scientists warn of greater natural disasters in the country as the United Nations (UN) reported unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate due to global warming.

The Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) said poor Filipinos are in fact already suffering the most from the impact of global warming as the world dangerously approaches the Earth’s warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades.

In a reaction to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report by the UN, AGHAM said the Philippines is vulnerable to the effects of global warming that would mostly impact the poor.

“This IPCC report only echoes the problems a country like the Philippines is experiencing through stronger and more frequent typhoons, El Niños and La Niñas, worsening water and air quality, food insecurity, and more,” AGHAM chairperson Chuckie Calsado said.

Global scientists provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach, the IPPC said in its August 9 report.

“Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years,” the IPPC ‘s Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, said.

It was approved by IPPC’s 195 member governments of the IPCC including the Philippines.

The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming.

The assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.

Not just temperature

Climate change is not just about temperature, however, the IPPC said. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming.

These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans that are likely to:

  • Intensify the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Affect rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Induce sea level rise. Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Induce changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.
  • Amplify aspect in cities, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

In its 2021 Global Climate Risk Index, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said developing countries are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change.

“They are hit hardest because they are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard but have lower coping capacity,” it said.

UN OCHA listed the Philippines as among three countries recurrently affected by catastrophes, continuously ranking with Haiti and Pakistan as among those most affected countries in the long-term index and in the index for the respective year (2019).

AGHAM said greater focus must be directed on how global warming impacts the lives lived by those directly affected by the worsening impacts of man-induced climate change.

“People living in areas that will be and are greatly affected by climate change are already living the impacts of climate change these past years,” Calsado said.

“The different data, the modeling, and different scientific analyses have forewarned us of these worsening scenarios but while the world debate on the recommendations of these studies the most vulnerable are already suffering the most,” he explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Scientists, green group condemn continuing detention of colleague

By SHERWIN DE VERA
www.nordis.net

VIGAN CITY – The Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) and Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) – Philippines condemned the continuing detention of environmental scientist, and peasant rights advocate Delilah “Delai” Padilla for trumped-up criminal charges filed by state forces in Cagayan Valley.

In separate statements, Agham and CEC said that Padilla’s apprehension and imprisonment are examples of attacks against environmental defenders and human rights advocates to silence and stop them from their advocacies. They also shared the significant contribution of Padilla to environmental defense and advocacy.

Delilah Padilla (Photo courtesy of AGHAM)

“As an environmental scientist, she was very dedicated to sharing her knowledge in far-flung communities that were experiencing environmental issues due to mining, logging, and pollution,” CEC Philippines said.

The institution added that “her work in environmental education resulted in improving the learning methods to promote the understanding of basic ecological principles among those who did not have formal schooling.”

Before relocating to Cagayan Valley, Padilla worked with CEC Philippines. She became part of the institution’s Environmental Research and Advocacy Program, where she worked to strengthen environmental education and awareness.

Later on, she also joined Agham to reach out to many scientists and encourage them to take part in people’s issues. In the early part of 2000, she became its Deputy Secretary-General.

According to Agham, Padilla headed the environmental investigation mission (EIM) in the coal mining areas in Cauayan, Isabela, in 2000. This undertaking exposed the dangers of coal mining and extractive industries to the people and the environment.

The group also noted that she was with the team that conducted the study on the impacts of the conversion of vast tracts of agricultural lands into monocrop plantations of Bt Corn in Isabela.

“Her temerity in the face of the glaring injustices that she saw challenged the status quo and helped stir the growing consciousness and will to act of the people she worked with. We know that her imprisonment will not deter her conviction to defend the environment and the people,” Agham said.

Agham lauded her for using her knowledge and expertise with the grassroots organizations and non-government sector “despite having the option to pursue a more lucrative career.”

According to the group, Padilla decided to move to Cagayan Valley after “realizing the need for a more proactive response to the needs of farmer communities.”

She was one of the conveners of Save the Valley, Serve the People, a broad multi-sectoral alliance against plunderous and destructive projects in the region. With her hard work and expertise, she earned respect and recognition of groups and communities, which eventually tasked her to become the spokesperson.

Padilla is a graduate of BS Biology from the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños. She also earned her Master in Environmental Science in UP Diliman.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 2 apprehended her on October 8 in Leonarda Village, Tuguegarao City in Cagayan. She is facing charges for assault, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder, and robbery. The government placed a P700,000 bounty for her arrest. Also arrested in a separate operation on the same day were Violeta Ricardo and Cristeta Miguel. Authorities tagged the three as a ranking officer of the Cagayan Valley Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

According to Danggayan ti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley (Danggayan-CV), Padilla’s arrest came during their protest preparation for the October peasant month commemoration.

The number of environmental activists red-tagged, arrested for trumped-up charges and killed continues to rise, said Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment, with 225 killings recorded in the Philippines since 2001. This year, Global Witness, an international watchdog, reported the Philippines as the most dangerous country for land rights and environmental activists with 113 killed in the past three years alone. #

KATRIBU to Speaker Belmonte: Kick Rep. Catamco out as IP committee head

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(Photos from KAMP)

Quezon City – Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU), together with the Sulong Katribu Partylist, Stop the Killings of Indigenous Peoples Network and Save Our Schools Network, held a picket in front of the North Gate of the Congress and filed a letter for Catamco’s dismissal at the House of Representatives. The enraged protesters throw packs of mud at the image of Catamco with a backdrop of caricatures of the military and Oplan Bayanihan.

KATRIBU, the Philippines’ largest indigenous people’s alliance, called for the immediate dismissal of Rep. Nancy Catamco as Chairperson of the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples for instigating an unwanted rescue of Manobo evacuees in Davao City, leaving 18 people hurt, disrupted a class being, and left the Manobo children traumatized.

“Catamco has proven that she does not genuinely represent us. On the contrary, she is now an emissary of death for the Manobo evacuees. She used the local police and ALAMARA, a vicious paramilitary group, to instigate an unwanted rescue. She is also forcing them to return to their militarized homes, which they have escaped from due to intensified harassment by the military,” said Piya Malayao, Secretary General of KATRIBU.

Catamco was also caught insulting the evacuees, calling them “stinky”, and disrespecting a Lumad leader during a dialogue. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also slammed Catamco for her incompetence and disregard for local government protocol when she ordered the police to act with her.

“Catamco is not fit to head an important committee in Congress. Catamco stands with the military and acts as their spokesperson. Catamco will endanger not only the Manobo evacuees in Davao but also all IP groups in the Philippines. She is a loose cannon and a vigilante group coddler. It is unbecoming for a representative to engage in gangsterism and harassment, and this will not be the last if she is to be tolerated. We therefore urge House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to immediately remove Rep. Catamco as the chairperson of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples. Also, we call on Speaker Belmonte to order the House Ethics Committee to immediately investigate the conduct of Catamco as a legislator,” explained Malayao.

KATRIBU also called for the investigation of Catamco’s instigation, her warning to pull out the children and women from the camp during a dialogue with the evacuees. “Her words gave the go signal to the attack and raid of the sanctuary in UCCP Haran, and even undermined Mayor Duterte’s order not to conduct any action without his presence in the City,” Malayao added. #

Mining TNCs versus social movements by Carol Pagaduan-Araullo of Streetwise

In the last two decades the global mining industry has tried to repair its image and whitewash its blackened record in the wake of public furor over mine “accidents” and stiff resistance by mining communities to their operations. It has launched a coordinated, well-funded and sustained public relations campaign as well as aggressive lobby work with governments and international bodies such as the United Nations. This colossal greenwashing effort has attempted to sell the concepts of “sustainable and responsible mining” and “cooperation of all stakeholders”.

Unfortunately for the industry but fortunately for Mother Nature and humankind, resistance to mining is no longer confined to mining-ravaged local communities but has grown into national and global social movements involving indigenous peoples, peasants, mine workers, environmentalists, scientists, lawyers, church people, human rights advocates and social activists in Africa, America, Asia and Europe.

The holding of the International People’s Mining Conference (IPMC) in Manila last week attests to the expansion, diversity, strength and vitality of the global, national and local movements opposed to large-scale mining. The IPMC focused on the destructive effects of large-scale mining on the lives of people living in areas where this is carried out as well as its adverse impact on the entire country’s economy, natural resource base and ecology. It also highlighted the growing peoples’ struggles all over the world in defense of their lives, livelihood and homes against imperialist plunder enabled by the collusion of corrupt and repressive host states.

Their view is that large-scale, corporate mining has resulted in the rape of the environment in order to plunder the natural resources of poor, economically backward countries leaving behind wide swathes of wasteland where once there had been lush forests, rich fishing grounds in rivers and coastal areas, productive farmlands, and biodiversity of flora and fauna. The huge profits made from large-scale mining have merely been taken out by the mining transnational corporations (TNCs) to their home countries. Very little gets ploughed back into the countries where the extraction of minerals takes place because these finite resources are exported as raw materials with very little value-added rather than utilized to develop domestic industry and the economy as a whole.

The Philippines serves as a microcosm of how corporate mining has led to massive landgrabbing, rapid depletion of natural resources, degradation if not devastation of the environment, displacement of communities, militarization and human rights violations while contributing to the worsening of the pre-industrial and backward economy of the country.

From 1997-2014, large-scale mines operated by consortia of foreign mining TNCs and their Filipino partners increased from 16 to 46. Almost one million hectares of land are under mining agreements. From 1997-2013 tax and shares from mining was only US$2.93 billion, a measly 10% of the total production value of US$29.13 billion in the same period. From 1997-2013, mining’s average gross domestic product (GDP) and employment rate contributions were just at 0.7% and 0.44%. From 1995-2014, 19 major mining disasters and contamination incidents were recorded. And from 2001-2015, 82 environmental activists, mostly anti-mining activists, were victims of extrajudicial killings.

These are the same violations and other worse crimes that mining communities in different countries have seen. In South Africa, 34 striking mine workers were killed and 78 others were injured when they were fired upon by police and security forces of UK-owned Lonmin mining company in August 2012. In Papua New Guinea, BHP Billiton’s open-pit Ok Tedi Mine has caused massive environmental degradation and pollution of the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers and their adjacent ecosystems. This was due to the irresponsible and deliberate discharge of two billion tons of mine wastes into these rivers from 1984-2013.

In West Papua, Indonesia, mining giants Rio Tinto and Freeport-McMoran are reported to have initially poured in $35 million for military infrastructure and vehicles and paid at least $20 million to state security forces from 1998 to 2004 to quell opposition against its Grasberg Mine, the world’s largest gold mine. In China, coal miners are one of the most exploited and have one of the worst working conditions. There was a total of 589 accidents and 1,049 deaths in the coal mining industry in 2013 alone. In 2011 and 2012, 3,357 mine workers were killed in mine accidents according to the China Labour Bulletin.

Mining TNCs’ thirst for more gargantuan profits is unquenchable. In the late 80’s, under the banner of “globalization”, more than 80 countries changed their mining regimes due to the powerful lobby of foreign TNCs and the dictates of international financial institutions (IFIs) like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organizations (WTO).

Neoliberal mining policies allowed the privatization of state-owned mining firms. These led to the free flow of foreign investments to the local mining industry and full foreign ownership of mining corporations and lands in the host country. Capital control and other forms of regulation were lifted; generous tax breaks and other incentives, granted; and legitimation and legalization of measures to quell local opposition to mining activities, provided.

To further defray costs and up profits, the mining TNCs demand lower government royalty shares along with more lax environmental laws and overall regulatory environment. They insist on lower wages and benefits for mine workers, more job insecurity, lower occupational safety standards and repression of trade unionism.

One example is Peru. With liberalization, privatization and deregulation as the pillars of its neoliberal economic policy regime, Peru’s mining industry became dominated by foreign and private corporations and tied to the international market. Between 1992 and 2000 more than 200 state-owned mining operations were privatized. In 1999, private corporations accounted for 95% of mineral production, up from 55% in 1990, less than ten years previous. Pedictably, 10 foreign mining corporations are among Peru’s Top 100 corporations.

National mineral production became further oriented to and dictated by the international market and not by the particular development needs of each country. This meant being held hostage to the vagaries of international trading wherein metal prices rise and fall based on the dictates of a few mining giants, their financiers and the IFIs. As to the demand for minerals in the global market, mining TNCs and their financiers are increasingly engaged in speculation in the commodity futures market. According to IBON Foundation, “the global mining industry, just like the major drivers of monopoly capitalism, relies on fictitious capital to surmount the crisis…”

Mining TNCs clearly cannot cannot get away with their plundering ways if they are not backed up by governments. This is where the corruption of government bureaucrats and top-level political leaders comes in: to put in place a policy regime skewed towards mining TNCs; to complement the TNCs’ campaign of deceit and cooptation; and to harness the state security forces to protect mining operations and stamp out dissent.

As the crisis of the global mining industry intensifies, the social movements — for workers’ rights, environmental protection, and indigenous people’s land rights; for asserting the rights and welfare of mining communities; and for upholding human rights — are confronting the situation and struggling to prevail against the odds. People’s movements for economic sovereignty, food security and development justice are squaring with the plunderers, despoilers and their powerful protectors in the international, national and local levels .

Their message is loud and clear: Mining TNCs cannot plunder the common resources as before; the people are rising, steadfast in their struggles and steadily gaining ground. The people shall prevail. #

Published in Business World
3 August 2015

International Peoples’ Conference on Mining

July 31, 2015 press conference of the IPCM (International Peoples’ Conference on Mining) with Mr. Clemente Bautista (Philippines), Atty. Selcuk Kocagacli (Turkey), Ms. Maria Antonia Recinos (El Salvador), Ms. Genevieve Talbot (Canada), Dr. Mark Muller (United Kingdom), Mr. Gabriel Sheanopa Manyangadze (Zimbabwe), and Mr. Ki Bagus Hadi Kusuma (Indonesia). The IPCM was attended by more than 140 participants from 28 countries resisting mining plunder, rights violations and environmental destruction. The conference is co-sponsored by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) Commission 13.

Big rally set for Aquino’s final SONA

Various groups and critics of the regime are preparing to mount another big rally on the sixth and final State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III on July 27. Carrying different issues and grievances, this year’s SONA rally will sum-up the more than five years of the Aquino regime.

“For Aquino, the SONA will be his way of trumpeting his so-called achievements to justify the continuation of the already discredited daang matuwid. It will be his last time to use the annual platform in an attempt to fool the public. For the people, Aquino’s final SONA is an event to raise the most pressing issues and hold the regime accountable,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The President now seems to be more concerned with maneuvering for 2016 than in addressing the problems of the people. Aquino wants the people to forget his many crimes of corruption, puppetry, human rights violations, and all-around neglect of the poor. Aquino is busy finding ways for his party’s presidential bet to win in 2016 and thus protect him from prosecution when his term expires. For example, what kind of a president calls for a meeting on politics and 2016 in the middle of a storm?” Reyes added.

more articles and news at www.bayan.ph

LARAWAN: Defend Philippine Sovereignty

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Chinese Consulate to US Embassy
June 12, 2015

Environmentalists, Manilakbayanis pay tribute to Francis Morales

Francis Morales would have joined the hundreds of Mindanaoans who are now in Metro Manila to demand food and peace for Mindanao from the Manila government. But he succumbed to complications of leukemia a few weeks ago.

“Tatay Francis” (Father Francis) was a seminarian who thumbed down privileged treatment so he can be dissuaded from his activism. Only short of his ordination, he chose instead to work full time among peasants and indigenous peoples teaching them literacy and sustainable agriculture. He joined the New People’s Army when the Philippine Army was out looking for him. In jail, he never wavered in his commitments to the people. Until he reached old age he was still in the forefront working for the people’s interest.

Francis was active calling for justice for the victims of natural and human disasters. He put high and mighty government officials to task in whatever forum. Mindanaoans feel orphaned by his death.

This video shows the humble tribute organized by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and the Manilakbayan who could not attend his funeral in Davao.