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Ailing detainee back in jail after Duterte’s lifting of ceasefire

Ailing detainee back in jail after Duterte’s lifting of ceasefire

Ailing detainee back in jail after Duterte’s lifting of ceasefire

10 February 2017

AN AILING political prisoner recuperating in a care facility had been
taken back to jail last February 4 after President Rodrigo Duterte
lifted his government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration with the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Amelia Pond, teacher and curriculum developer of the Lumad school
Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Learning Center (STTICLC), was brought
back to Tagum District Jail by her police guards reportedly on “orders
from the top.”

Sr. Francis Añover, RSM of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
(RMP) said she was told by the guards when she rushed to assist Pond
that the sudden transfer was due to Duterte’s lifting of the ceasefire
and that they were ordered by the Tagum jail warden that all political
prisoners be brought back to detention.

Pond, also the regional coordinator of RMP-Southern Mindanao Region was
arrested by the Philippine National Police when she stepped out of their
group’s national assembly in Cebu City last August 19.

The PNP said Pond was “Adelfa Toledo” but witnesses said the arresting
officers put a fake identification card in her bag. She faces murder and
attempted murder charges.

Pond reportedly presented to the guards a certification from the warden
that she is allowed to stay at the Capernaum care facility for a month
to recuperate but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Pond was taken to the Southern Philippines Medical last November 11,
2016 for a lumbar spine operation. She was also diagnosed to be
suffering from chronic renal infection, osteoporosis, and hyperlipidemia
or abnormally high concentration of fats or lipids in the blood.

Añover said they also sought the hospital director’s help to stop the
transfer but he was out.

Añover said Pond suffered during the transfer from Davao City to Tagum
jail, repeatedly crying out in pain and asking the driver to slow down
and stop for rest.

At the jail facility, Pond was taken back to her old cell beside the
toilet, the nun said.

“She cannot bend due to her lumbar problem while the other prisoners
sleep on the floor with only cardboards and mats,” Añover said.

The missionary nun said she also sought out the warden but the jail
officer was out.

“I wanted to point out to him that he gave a certification allowing Amy
(Pond) to be transferred to Capernaum from the hospital ward while
undergoing PT (physical therapy) but it was clear that they made sure
the transfer from the hospital to the jail happened on a Saturday as the
important people with whom we can talk to and complain were not around,”
Añover said.

Humanitarian grounds

Human rights group Karapatan said Pond was among the 130 sickly
political prisoners recommended for immediate release on humanitarian
grounds under the NDFP-Duterte government peace talks.

“The release of political prisoners is a priority agenda in both the
first and second peace negotiations, with the Government of the
Philippines (GRP) continuously reaffirming its commitment towards this
end,” Karapatan, in a December 5 statement, said.

Last December, Pond appealed to Duterte for her immediate release.

“Perhaps the Duterte government would recognize that I am elderly with
poor health and that I am just a simple educator. What happened to me is
a big disregard to the efforts to alleviate the conditions of one of the
poorest, backward and oppressed sectors among the Filipinos, which are
the Lumad,” she said.

Despite repeated promises by Duterte and the GRP Negotiating Panel in
their peace negotiations with the NDFP, however, none of the 130 sickly
political detainees has been released.

Harassment

Añover also reported unusual activities around the RMP Davao
headquarters after Pond’s sudden transfer to Tagum jail.

“Two nights ago, the dog we have at the office compound had been going
around barking. And since yesterday, February 8, we noticed there are
two burly persons with a motorcycle standing at both sides of the gate,”
Añover said.

“We had a collective decision to be vigilant and not to go out alone,”
she added.

Founded by the Association of Major Women Religious Superiors of the
Philippines (AMWRSP) of the Roman Catholic Church in 1969, RMP is
national, inter-diocesan and inter-congregational organization of men
and women religious, priests and lay people who live and work with peasants.

They establish and operate Lumad and peasant schools like STTICLC which
the Armed Forces of the Philippines allege to be communist New People’s
Army-influenced schools. (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photo by Karapatan)

February 13, 2017   No Comments

Increasing opposition to Duterte’s war on drugs: UN official

Increasing opposition to Duterte’s war on drugs: UN official

Reuters – http://www.arabnews.com/node/1052056/world

10 February 2017

MANILA: A UN human rights investigator says there are signs of mounting
opposition within the Philippines to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on
drugs, with police operations on hold and the Church getting critical of
the campaign.

Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions, however, said the thousands of killings in the
campaign had given rise to a sense of impunity, which could lead to
increased lawlessness and violence.

More than 7,600 people, mostly drug users and small-time dealers, have
been killed since Duterte took office on June 30, about a third of them
in police operations. Callamard said she knew of only four court cases
seeking justice for the victims.

“The difference between the number of reported killings and the number
of court cases is unbelievable,” she told Reuters in Bangkok. “It’s very
unusual for that degree of impunity to remain restricted to one kind of
crime or one type of community.”

The war on drugs has been a signature policy of Duterte, who remains
popular in opinion polls.

But Callamard, a human rights expert from France who took up the UN post
in August, said opposition to the drug war was increasing and had
reached a “tipping point.”

“There is an increasing awareness on the part of the Filipino people
that the war on drugs could hurt them,” she said. “The surveys that are
being done indicate support for the president…but critique the war on
drugs.”

One of the Philippines’ top polling agencies, Social Weather Stations,
said after a survey of 1,500 people in early December that most were
satisfied with Duterte’s rule. But 78 percent said they were worried
that they or someone they knew would be a victim of an extra-judicial
killing.

In a series of reports last year, Reuters showed that the police had a
97-percent kill rate in their drug operations, the strongest proof yet
that police were summarily shooting drug suspects.

Separately, the Philippines’ environment minister vowed not to buckle to
mounting pressure from a mining sector reeling from her shutting more
than half of the country’s mines on environmental protection grounds.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez has ordered the
closure of 23 of the country’s 41 mines, most of which produce nickel
ore, and the suspension of five more due to violations uncovered during
a lengthy environmental audit.

Mines ordered for closure include those run by Hinatuan Mining Corp, a
unit of top Philippine nickel ore producer Nickel Asia Corp, and
BenguetCorp. Nickel Mines Inc.

The decision has rocked the global nickel market as the Philippines, an
archipelago of more than 7,100 islands, is the world’s biggest exporter
of nickel ore.

In another development, the country’s defense minister said the
Philippines is certain of “very strong” links between Daesh and
home-grown militants and is concerned about regional repercussions from
tension between China and the new US administration.

Intelligence from various sources had shown rebels in the southern
Philippines had been communicating with Daesh, and funds were being sent
from the Middle East via conventional mechanisms commonly used by
overseas Filipino workers, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in an
interview.

Some statements about China by advisers to US President Donald Trump
were “very troubling,” he said, adding that defense agreements with
Washington would make US troops based temporarily in the Philippines
“magnets for retaliation.”
“We are concerned if war breaks out and it is near us we will be
involved whether we like it or not,” Lorenzana told Reuters.

February 10, 2017   No Comments

Philippines: Conflicts and Human Rights Under Duterte

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Philippines: Conflicts and Human Rights Under Duterte

Duterte Government and Rebel negotiating teams in public forum in London.

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has shocked the world in the last few months with an estimated 5-6,000 extrajudicial killings in his “war against drugs”. Already there are reports of political activists being killed under the cover of this campaign by local police and death squads.  Much less media coverage has been given, in the confusing reconfiguration of Philippine politics under Duterte, to the current peace talks between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) guerrillas to end 48 years of armed conflict. It is estimated that the armed conflict – the longest in Asia – has claimed around 40,000 lives to date.

This month will see the third round of these talks, which have been sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Government, taking place in Rome. It marks a crucial stage in the negotiations as the agenda turns to economic and social justice, and the issue of the current extra-judicial killings must come under discussion.

The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP), in co-operation with the UK- based NGO Conciliation Resources and the UNISON Filipino Activist Network, is organising a public discussion in London which will involve both government and NDF negotiators who will have come straight from the Rome talks. The meeting is responding to the enormous interest among the thousands of Filipinos in the UK, many of them working in jobs in health and social services. The UK has the largest Filipino migrant population in Europe.

MEDIA COVERAGE IS REQUESTED FOR THE FOLLOWING:
PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE
 

27th January 2017, Friday, 5.00pm

The UK public forum on Conflicts and Human Rights under Duterte will take place at 5.00 pm on Friday 27 January 2017 at the UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY. There will be a special briefing for the press at 6.30 pm where interviews can be held.

30th January 2017, Monday, 4.00pm

A meeting between the peace teams and MPs will also take place take place hosted by Nicole Piche, Coordinator/Legal Adviser, All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group on Monday 30 January, at the Houses of Commons, Room. There will be an opportunity for press interviews after the meeting from 4.00pm.

Media liaisions:

Jamima Fagta
E: secretary@chrp.org.uk
M: +447958 389370

Rafael Joseph Maramag
E: info@chrp.org.uk
M: +447958 482753

Related links:

Eventbrite page: www.london-peace-forum.eventbrite.co.uk
Website info: www.chrp.org.uk/2017/london-peace-forum-venue-changed

Download versions: pdf, docx, jpg p1, jpg p2

January 19, 2017   No Comments

London Forum on Philippine Peace Talks – You are invited!

CHANGE OF VENUE:

UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY

Click the link for more info:

London Forum on Philippine Peace Talks

January 10, 2017   1 Comment

War on drugs used as front

Philippine Daily Inquirer –
http://opinion.inquirer.net/100510/war-drugs-used-front#ixzz4UdUBlrbE

3 January 2017

Eight out of every 10 Filipinos worry about dying in the drug war, says
the latest Social Weather Stations survey. For the new year, New
Zealanders join the Filipino people in hoping for the Duterte presidency
to decisively end extrajudicial killings in the country.

Oplan Tokhang, the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, gave impunity
for police forces to shoot drug suspects, without first attempting
arrest. Thousands of people, mostly in urban poor communities, have been
killed by the state or vigilante groups. We are very concerned to hear
of cases of mistaken identity, in which innocent people with no
connection to the drug trade and even children have been killed.

Philippine security forces have long used the counterinsurgency against
the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as an
excuse to attack activist groups. Now Karapatan and other leading human
rights groups have documented several cases of state and vigilante
forces using the drug war as a front to arrest activists on trumped-up
charges or even violently attack them.

In October, several farmer activists, resisting land-grabbing in San
Jose del Monte, Bulacan, were arrested on drug charges, allegedly after
police officers planted evidence on them. On Dec. 5, Joel Lising, a
leader of the Tri-Wheels Organization para sa Kabuhayan, was gunned down
in Tondo, Manila, during the early hours of the morning.

We are saddened and outraged over too many civilian lives lost,
including innocent children. Hoping for an EJK-free 2017, we join human
rights groups in demanding that all those responsible for extrajudicial
killings be prosecuted and that the drug war not be used as a front to
attack more community activists.

CAMERON WALKER, Auckland Philippines Solidarity,
ph.solidarity@gmail.com; MURRAY HORTON, Philippine Solidarity Network of
Aotearoa, cafca@chch.planet.org.nz; ROD PROSSER, Wellington Kiwi Pinoy,
communitymedia@paradise.net.nz

January 5, 2017   No Comments

Stalked by Death: Indigenous Lumad killings continue in the Philippines

Stalked by Death: Indigenous Lumad killings continue in the Philippines

By Mark Ambay III

Stalked by Death: Indigenous Lumad killings continue in the Philippines

23rd December 2016

THE Lumad peoples of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao are
composed of 18 different ethnolingustic groups, including the B’laan,
Higaonon, Manobo and Subanon peoples. They are some of the poorest
people in the country despite the fact that their ancestral lands are
some of the most fertile lands on the island and much of the mineral
resources of Mindanao are located within their territories.

For years, the Lumad have been fighting an uphill battle to retain
control of their ancestral territories against corporate encroachment,
plunder and militarization. This struggle has resulted in hundreds, if
not thousands, of Lumad deaths, many falling victim to extrajudicial
killings perpetrated by military, paramilitary and private security
forces. Most of these abuses, however, have gone unpunished.

The new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, the first one to hail
from Mindanao, is a known supporter of the fight against Lumad killings.
Despite the promise of change, death still haunts the Lumad of Mindanao.

Deadly history

When Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stepped down in 2010 after being president
of the Philippines for nine years, she left behind a bloody trail of
Lumad killings. Human rights organization Karapatan documented a total
of 89 cases of extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples during the
Arroyo administration, and many of these were Lumad.

Her successor, Benigno Aquino III, had a worse human rights record–102
indigenous people were killed during his six-year term. According to a
shadow report submitted to the United Nations in late 2016, 87 of the IP
killings involved the Lumad. Some of the most gruesome killings of Lumad
happened during his term.

On Oct 18, 2012, soldiers under the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the
Philippine Army (PA) strafed the house of B’laan anti-mining resistance
leader Daguil Capion in the village of Bong Mal in Tampakan town, South
Cotabato province. Capion was injured but managed to escape, but his
pregnant wife Juvy, 27, and their children Pop, 13, and Janjan,8, died
in the shooting incident. Soldiers also brought the remains of the dead
out of the house, an act which violated the B’laan culture. Among the
B’laans, it is considered taboo for non-relatives to disturb the remains
of the dead.

On the afternoon of Aug 18, 2015, Datu Herminio Samia, 70, his children
Joebert, 20, and Emir, 19, as well as his other relatives Elmer, 17, and
Norman, 13, were killed by members of the 1st Special Forces Battalion
in Sitio Mando, Brgy. Mendis, Pangantucan town in Bukidnon province.

According to the lone survivor of the incident, the 15-year-old son of
Datu Herminio, the five victims, who were members of the Manobo tribe,
were shot one by one by the soldiers.. The military, on the other hand,
claimed the five were all members of the New People’s Army and what
transpired was a legitimate armed encounter between the military and the
Communist rebels.

Paramilitary forces also went on a killing spree in the town of Lianga
in Surigao del Sur province. At 4am on Sept 1, 2015, members of the
Magahat-Bagani Force woke up residents of Diatagon village in Lianga,
Surigao del Sur and forced them to gather in the village square. There,
the Magahat-Bagani shot and killed Datu Dionel Campos, 41, and Datu
Jovello Sinzo, 69. Residents rushed to the house of Emerito Samarca, 54,
only to find him dead, as well.

Samarca was executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for
Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), an award-winning
non-government organization that ran a school for indigenous people in
the area. Campos and Sinzo were tribal chieftains who had repeatedly
called for the disbandment of paramilitary forces in the province.

Is change coming?

Duterte handily won the presidency with a promise of change, with his
predecessor’s administration widely seen as corrupt, inept, elitist, and
insensitive to the plight of ordinary Filipinos. In his inaugural
address, Duterte stated his inclination of inclusion of indigenous
peoples’ interests and agenda, especially the Lumad, in the peace
process with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Communist Party
of the Philippines (CPP), which is waging the longest-running Maoist
revolution in the world and which counts many Lumad as fighters of the
New People’s Army (NPA), its armed wing.

Yet nearly six months into his term as president, at least ten cases of
extrajudicial killings of Lumad have already taken place.

On July 12, three Higaonon men were shot and killed by private security
forces employed by Ramcar, Inc., in Brgy. Lupiagan, Sumilao, Bukidnon.
The killed Higaonons were members of the Sitio Inalsahan Indigenous
Peoples Organization, which has an ongoing land dispute with Ramcar, a
company engaged in cattle ranching. The site of Ramcar’s ranch is well
within the ancestral lands of the Higaonon of Lupiagan.

On July 15, only three days after the killings in Sumilao,
motorcycle-riding men fired at Bagobo tribal leader Hermie Alegre, 31,
in Tugbok district, Davao City. Alegre died en route to the hospital. He
was the chairperson of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumad, an organization of
Bagobo people engaged in a land dispute with the religious group Jesus
Christ: A Name Above Every Name. The indigenous rights organization
PASAKA pointed to the 84th IBPA and the paramilitary group Alamara as
perpetrators of the shooting incident.

A pregnant Tigwahanon Manobo woman died and five others were injured
when members of the paramilitary group New Indigenous Peoples Army for
Reforms (NIPAR) rained bullets on Manobo people celebrating a wedding in
the village of Tibugawan, Brgy. Kawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon on July
30, 2016. Butsoy Salusad, the head of NIPAR, has also been tagged as
behind the killing of Matigsalog tribal leader Jimmy Liguyon in 2012. An
arrest warrant was issued for his arrest, but police and military forces
have so far failed to enforce the warrant, and Salusad was even seen
together with military and police personnel on different occasions
despite the warrant.

Two Banwaon indigenous rights activists were also shot dead in separate
incidents on Aug 12, 2016, in the town of San Luis, Agusan del Sur.
Jerry Loyola, 42, went to answer a knock on the door of his house in
Brgy. Balit and was shot three times in the chest. He died instantly.
Not even an hour later, Jimmy Barosa of Brgy. Kasilayan was also shot in
the back while taking a rest in front of his house. Both attackers fled
on motorcycles afterwards. Both were members of the organization
Tagdumahan, which was actively campaigning against the entry of mining
and logging companies on Banwaon ancestral territories. Tagdumahan has
been tagged by the Philippine Army as supporters of the NPA and its
members had been repeatedly harassed by paramilitary groups.

In Compostela Valley, anti-mining activist Jimmy Liguyon was shot by two
motorcycle-riding men in the town Montevista in Compostela Valley
province on Oct, 10, 2016. Liguyon, a member of the Mandaya tribe,
managed to ask for help from bystanders and was rushed to the hospital
in Compostela town and then transferred to another hospital in Tagum
City, where he died the next day. Liguyon was an officer of the Comval
Farmers Association and actively campaigned against entry of the Agusan
Minerals and Petroleum Corporation in Compostela town, and was also a
critic of the human rights abuses committed by the 66th IBPA.

Three days later, another anti-mining Lumad activist was killed in
Compostela Valley province. Joselito Pasaporte, a member of the Mansaka
tribe and the group Panalipdan Youth, was shot dead in front of the
Mabini town cockpit by an unidentified gunman. Police investigators said
Pasaporte was number 6 on its druglist and his killing was most probably
drug-related. Human rights group Karapatan refuted police claims, saying
the military was behind the slaying of Pasaporte because of his stand
against large-scale mining.

No policy changes yet

Activists have lauded many of Duterte’s statements and proposed policy
changes as being pro-people, such as his criticism of American
intervention in Philippine affairs as well as appointment of several
progressives into his Cabinet. Yet they have also remained critical of
his other programs, such as his anti-drug war which has already claimed
the lives of at least 5,000 suspected drug users and criminals.

Duterte’s predecessor Aquino’s Internal Security Plan, Oplan Bayanihan,
has been widely criticized by different groups as the template of
state-sponsored terrorism and extrajudicial killings. Despite calls for
its scrapping, Duterte has yet to implement a new security plan in
exchange for the one he inherited. As such, human rights remains a
sensitive issue for the Duterte administration.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte walks with cadets of the Philippine
Military Academy during the Armed Forces anniversary celebration at Camp
Aguinaldo in Quezon city, Metro Manila Dec 21. Pic: Reuters

“Human rights violations in Mindanao continue to rise amidst the peace
process,” said Barug Katungod Mindanao in a statement.

Extrajudicial killings of Lumad and other activists are being done
“through the continued implementation of Oplan Bayanihan and in the
guise of community peace and development program (COPD),” it also added.

In addition, some see Duterte’s pronouncements as just talk, with no
actual policy changes being implemented. Despite his statement regarding
putting a stop to the proliferation of paramilitary groups in the
country, especially in Mindanao, no paramilitary group has been
dismantled and disbanded.

Until and unless Duterte follows through his promises of change with
concrete action and scrapping of government policies such as Oplan
Bayanihan, the killings of the Lumad peoples of Mindanao will continue.

December 24, 2016   No Comments

President Rodrigo Duterte is to be investigated by an independent human rights group after admitting killing three criminals

http://news.sky.com/story/probe-into-murder-claim-by-philippines-president-rodrigo-duterte-10704687

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is to be investigated by an independent human rights group after he admitted killing three criminals years ago.
Mr Duterte said last week he had helped police kill three suspected kidnappers while he was mayor of the southern city of Davao.
The United Nations Human Rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called for an investigation in the Philippines, saying the killings “clearly constitute murder”.

Kaleb Lloyd

December 24, 2016   No Comments

Bluebird Merchant Buys Batangas Gold Project In Philippines (ALLISS)

Bluebird Merchant Buys Batangas Gold Project In Philippines (ALLISS)
http://www.lse.co.uk/AllNews.asp?code=9osuxj30&headline=Bluebird_Merchant_Buys_Batangas_Gold_Project_In_Philippines_ALLISS
2 December 2016

LONDON (Alliance News) – Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd on Friday said it has bought the Batangas gold project in the Philippines for 1.3 million shares and a 1.0% net smelter royalty upon commencement of production.

Bluebird said it previously owned a 25% stake in Red Mountain Mining Singapore Ltd, which owned 100% of MRL Gold Inc.

On Friday, the group said it has agreed to return its 25% stake in Red Mountain Mining Singapore to Australian miner Red Mountain Mining Ltd and in turn will be transferred the total holdings in Philippine-registered MRL Gold, which owns the Batangas project.

“As acknowledged by Red Mountain Mining it is extremely challenging for foreign-based explorers to develop their projects. As a Philippine-based company Bluebird is confident that it is uniquely positioned to develop the project,” Bluebird said.

In consideration for the acquisition, Bluebird said it will be issuing 1.3 million shares to Red Mountain Mining and the 1.0% royalty.

Shares in Bluebird Ventures were up 5.9% at 2.25 pence on Friday, implying a price for the project of GBP28,125.

Bluebird said the acquisition represented a “significant improvement” in terms as previously it had the option to increase its 25% stake in Red Mountain Mining Singapore to a 50% stake by investing a further USD1.7 million.

Bluebird noted the recent maiden ore reserve declared by Red Mountain Mining for the Batangas project of 128,000 ounces of gold which included 100,000 ounces at 4.2 grams per tonne of gold. Red Mountain Mining has also completed a pre-feasibility study for the project which showed it would produce a free cash flow after capital costs of AUD46.0 million.

The project has an additional 320,000 ounces of majority Joint Ore Reserves Committee inferred resources that are available for future conversion, Bluebird said. The total historical spend on the gold project has been more than USD20.0 million which can be applied as tax losses to the project, the group added.

“Whilst there has been uncertainty in the mining industry in the Philippines over the past six months which has seen a mining audit undertaken of operating mines that resulted in the recommendation for the suspension of over 20 mines the company is not aware of any mines that have ceased production,” Bluebird said.

The group added it is currently in talks with prospective local partners who would manage the permitting process, and said the outlook for Philippines mining projects is “a lot brighter” than it was six months ago.

Bluebird said it plans to undertake a thorough review of the project in the short-term and will “give careful attention” to the environment aspects of Batangas.

“Notwithstanding the current mining climate in the Philippines, we believe that we will be able to progress the project through to production with the assistance of local partners who understand the opportunities that the establishment of a mine will have for all stakeholders,” Chief Executive Charles Barclay said.

“Whilst the agreement to proceed with construction may still take some time, the asset will continue to represent considerable value to our shareholders,” Barclay added.

By Hannah Boland; hannahboland@alliancenews.com; @Hannaheboland

—————————-
Acquisition of 100% of Batangas Gold Project

RNS Number : 7961Q – Bluebird Merchant Ventures Limited release

2 December 2016
Bluebird Merchant Ventures LTD (the “Company” or “Bluebird”) Bluebird acquires 100% of the Batangas Gold Project

Bluebird Merchant Ventures (EPIC: BMV), the Philippine focused natural resources development company is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Batangas Gold Project (the “Project”) for a consideration of 1.25 million Bluebird shares. Having previously held a 25% stake, the acquisition will give Bluebird sole ownership of the Project which has an established JORC resource of 445,000 oz of gold.

* Acquires 100% for consideration of 1% royalty and issuance of 1.25m Bluebird shares
* Pre-Feasibility Study announced on 21st June 2016
* Maiden Ore Reserve declared on 21st June 2016 of 128,000oz of Gold (including gold equivalent) including 100,000oz at 4.2 g/t Au
* Available 320,000 oz of majority JORC Inferred Resources remains available for future conversion
* Bluebird also acquires over $20million of tax losses

The Company previously owned a 25% stake in Red Mountain Mining Singapore Ltd (RMMS) which in turn owned 100% of Philippine registered MRL Gold Inc. Bluebird will return its 25% stake in RMMS to ASX listed Red Mountain Mining (RMX) and RMMS will transfer its 100% stake in MRL Gold Inc to Bluebird. As acknowledged by RMX it is extremely challenging for foreign-based explorers to develop their projects. As a Philippine based company Bluebird is confident that it is uniquely positioned to develop the Project.

In consideration for the acquisition, ASX listed Red Mountain Mining (RMX) will be issued 1.25million Bluebird shares and will also be entitled to receive a 1% net smelter royalty upon commencement of production.

The acquisition represents a significant improvement in terms as previously the Company had the Option to increase its 25% stake to 50.1% in RMMS by making further project investments of US$1.7million.

On 21 June 2016 RMX declared a Maiden Ore Reserve of 128,000 oz of Gold (including silver credits) which included 100,000 oz at 4.2g/t Au along with a Pre-Feasibility Study that showed the project would produce a free cash flow (after capital costs) of A$46million based on the Maiden Ore Reserve. The project has an additional 320,000oz of majority JORC Inferred Resources that are available for future conversion. The total historical spend on the Batangas Gold Project has been more than USD 20million, which can be applied as tax losses to the project.

Whilst there has been uncertainty in the mining industry in the Philippines over the past six months which has seen a mining audit undertaken of operating mines that resulted in the recommendation for the suspension of over 20 mines the Company is not aware of any mines that have ceased production. The Company is in dialogue with prospective local partners that would manage the permitting process and expects to update the market in due course.

The Company believes that the outlook for Philippine mining projects is a lot brighter than it was six months ago. Bluebird’s key management are all located in the Philippines having experience of both bringing gold projects into production and operating gold mines in Asia including in the Philippines, making it uniquely positioned to understand the local culture and environment.

The Company plans to undertake a thorough review of the Project in the short term and in particular will give careful attention to the environmental aspects. We fully support the Philippines Chamber of Mine’s drive for Responsible Mining for both the local communities and the environment.

Bluebird CEO, Charles Barclay commented:

“We are delighted to announce the acquisition of the whole of the Batangas project. Notwithstanding the current mining climate in the Philippines, we believe that we will be able to progress the project through to production with the assistance of local partners who understand the opportunities that the establishment of a mine will have for all stakeholders. Whilst the agreement to proceed with construction may still take some time, the asset will continue to represent considerable value to our shareholders.”

Enquiries:

Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd
+63 917 8615 604
Charles Barclay, CEO

Walbrook PR Limited
+44 (0)207 933 8783
Gary Middleton / Nick Rome

December 5, 2016   No Comments

Philippines considers jailing nine-year-olds amid crackdown on crime

Philippines considers jailing nine-year-olds amid crackdown on crime
http://news.sky.com/story/philippines-considers-jailing-nine-year-olds-amid-crackdown-on-crime-10666152

November 23, 2016   No Comments

IBON FEATURES

IBON FEATURES
|
8 November
2016
IBON Foundation | #114 Timog Ave. Quezon City | 9276986 | www.ibon.org

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Three years after Yolanda: Unmet Yolanda shelter needs, government neglect
IBON FEATURES –
Resettlement in super-typhoon Yolanda-stricken areas continues to be characterized by substandard houses and lack of basic utilities. Shelter shortage is glaring despite the influx of funds. Slow government response in the three year aftermath of the super-typhoon has extended rehabilitation woes for the victims and survivors.

Weak shelter

Rommel  Portugal, a 45-year-old mechanic-turned arbularyo at manghihilot (herb doctor) after Typhoon Yolanda, laments the state of their house in Ridgeview Park. The resettlement site of the National Housing Authority (NHA) is a Php15-ride away from Tacloban City.

Rommel and his family were transferred to Ridgeview after spending more than a year at the bunkhouses. For many families like his who still lack a steady source of income, the incomplete state of Ridgeview houses was another cause for worry. They were not given materials to complete the construction of their new homes. Only one piece of plywood was provided to use as a bed on the cold concrete floors which has caused illness especially among the children.

Ridgeview houses are not sturdy and would not withstand another big typhoon, Rommel observed. There is also no evacuation center nearby in case another calamity strikes. Moreover, there is still no electricity – only small solar panels made available for them to use at least for lighting.

There is also no water system. Aside from having to pay Php30 per container for potable water and Php2 per container for sanitation, Rommel feels that some designated leaders are overcharging residents for the water.

Sanitation is a problem. According to Rommel, the bathrooms are poorly constructed; the toilet bowl is not properly cemented and will tip over if they are not carefully seated. The septic tank is small and the floor drainage is poor, leading to flooding when they bathe. They can no longer use the sink because the hose for the drain has quickly worn down.

Rommel also remembers then Office of the Presidential Adviser on Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (OPARR) head Panfilo Lacson saying that Yolanda survivors transferred to Ridgeview would not have to pay for their units. They would however learn that after five years of occupying the Ridgeview unit for free, residents will have to start paying Php200 every month. The amount will increase every few years until the unit has been fully paid for in 30 years. Rommel said that with an unstable income and no livelihood opportunities in sight, his family cannot afford to pay their unit and they will eventually have to move out of Ridgewood.

Lack of will?

Super-typhoon Yolanda/ Haiyan entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in November 2013, cut across Leyte and adjacent provinces and left from 6,293 to 19,000 dead or missing and 28,689 injured. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that 1,140,332 houses were damaged, of which 550,928 were destroyed totally while the rest, partially.

Government’s resettlement cluster targeted 205,128 housing units for construction under the leadership of the NHA. Despite being a rather low target considering the breadth of damage, the NHA received Php39.2 billion, one of the largest releases to government agencies.  Yet according to a June 2016 National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) report, only 23.2% or Php9.1 billion of the amount has been disbursed. The report also showed that the NHA’s projects only had an overall weighted accomplishment of 12.3%, with 45% ongoing and 42.6% not yet started.

A September 2016 Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) validation report cited complaints by Yolanda survivors that affirmed the snail pace of housing projects. In Guiuan, Eastern Samar, transition houses were demolished to make way for the construction of core shelters. But no temporary abode was provided to survivors while the core houses were being built. As of August 2016, 62% of 3,112 target core shelter units have not been started. Meanwhile, only 57% of the 1,410 target units of transition shelters have been built. The distribution of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) has also been reported to be quite problematic.

As of August 2016, a huge portion of significant amounts of combined foreign and local donations have reportedly been spent on shelters categorized into ESA (Php543.3 million), transitional shelters (Php189 million) and Core Shelter Assistance Project (CSAP: Php27 million). Yet all of the above show how hundreds of thousands of Yolanda survivors remain unsheltered and homeless.

Relief underway?

Snail-paced response and poor construction of homes for survivors not only puts into question the government’s integrity in the utilization of billions of pesos in Yolanda funds.  It also puts into question whether it deems people’s welfare to be of prime importance.

Up to 890,895 families or over four million individuals were displaced by Yolanda. Total cost of damages in all affected regions reached approximately Php39.8 billion, of which agricultural damages accounted for Php20.3 billion and infrasructure damages for the rest.

Reports indicate that infrastructure and agriculture rehabilitation has also fared slowly, depriving the people of livelihood opportunities and severely-needed social services. The destruction illustrates how destroyed homes only mark the beginning of physical to economic displacement that can only get worse the longer rehabilitation and reconstruction takes to progress.

IBON Features

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

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November 11, 2016   No Comments