Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pitkin Suspended?

Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato of Occidental Mindoro last Tuesday,- March 23, 2010, issued two letters addressed to Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and Pitkin Petroleum PLC thru its representative, Ms. Tessa Agravante. How I really wish to share you a copy of said communication but all I can do now is to re-type it and post it here :

"Anent to my telephone conversation with Ms. Tessa Agravante, we reiterate our concern and dismay in the conduct of your oil/natural gas exploration in Sablayan. Reports have reached us that some of our Mangyans were hurt in the violent confrontation between opposing groups. We are likewise informed that you have not been granted any clearance/certification by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that the Mangyans concerned have given their consent to your activities in the area.

At the onset of your activities, we made it clear that the interests of our Mangyans should be primordial concern and their rights are respected by you at all times.

In view thereof, you are hereby enjoined to suspend your/exploration in the area until all the issues are settled and the requisite clearances/permit are secured.

For your prompt compliance."
Signed Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato, Provincial Governor.

Yesterday, after the Chrism Mass where almost all of the priests of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose gathered, Bishop Antonio P. Palang, SVD,DD read his Circular No. 3 Series of 2010 re : Our Anti Mining Advocacy. Bishop Palang has this to say on Sato's request: "This will give us temporary lull. The ways of mining companies are deceiving which therefore demand that we continuously keep watch. I encourage our Basic Ecclesial Communities, alongside our tribal communities, to still be continously vigilant despite this break."

Indeed, the ball is in the hands of the people and not only on DOE and even our local governments. The call remains the same : Onward with our struggle against Pitkin!

Least we forget, in less that twenty four hours, the official campaign period for local officials is officially on...

(Photo from Sr. Cora Carino, DC)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

“Not Oil But Gas” - Pitkin

In his letter to Mr. Froilan A. Tampico, president and Chief Executive Officer of the
National Power Corporation (NPC), Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes revealed that the Pitkin Petroleum discovered natural gas instead of oil in their present exploration in the southern part of Occidental Mindoro.

The Department of Energy or the DOE is a party to Service Contract (SC) No. 53 in onshore Mindoro Island with Pitkin, a United Kingdom-based oil and gas exploration company.

According to a Pitkin report, they have drilled a natural gas discovery whom they call Progreso A1X. The oil company is proposing that NPC lease natural gas generators to replace the leased diesel generators and use the natural gas from the Progreso discovery as fuel. El Progreso, where apparently they discovered natural gas is part of Brgy. San Isidro (Canwaling), San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

In said letter dated 6 March 2010, DOE is endorsing to Pitkin to the NPC to develop the resource through a supply agreement with the NPC-SPUG. The letter further stressed that any arrangement made should be “consistent with the government policy on private sector participation program in missionary areas promulgated by DOE.” The DOE is hoping that Tampico “will prioritize discussing the merits of converting an indigenous resource of natural gas to electrical power for the benefit of the residents of Mindoro Island.”

Pitkin Petroleum PLC believes that there is less 50% carbon emissions from natural gas compared with diesel. Also it claimed that natural gas is indigenous to Mindoro eliminating the need to buy and import diesel from other countries. It would also be much cheaper for NPC to use natural gas compared to diesel thereby reducing generating costs, they say.

With these latest developments, the people of Occidental Mindoro,- the lowlanders and the Mangyans, are opposing still the project due to various moral, economic and environmental reasons. But legally speaking, I would like to point out that the law that regulates the oil industry in the Philippines is a product of the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos : the Presidential Decree (PD) 87 or the “Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972” also known as the “Service Contract Law”. It is one of the many Marcos laws that needs to be amended.

If we are to scrutinize closely said law governing exploration and utilization of our natural resources, we will find out how accommodating they are to foreign interests justifying that these foreigners have positive and indispensible contributions to make towards our economic development.

On the outset, the government and the oil exploration companies claim that their aim is to develop an indigenous Filipino oil industry but in reality its provisions are extremely favorable to foreign corporations like Pitkin Petroleum PLC. Hold on to your computer seats and here are some of their privileges:

1. The service contracts to explore onshore and offshore,- covering thousands and thousands of hectares, may be done through direct negotiations instead of public bidding;

2. Service contractors are exempted from paying tariff duties on all machinery and materials imported for their oil operations;

3. Service contractors do not pay taxes whatsoever. They are exempted from all taxes except income tax but the latter is in fact shouldered by the government;

4. They are not required to publish data concerning production, exportation, or sale of crude oil or gas discovered or produced in the Philippines;

5. A service contract is for seven years, extendable for three more years. If oil in commercial quantity is discovered, the contract can extend for as long as 25 years;

6. If a service contractor discovers and produces oil in commercial quantity, the government reimburses the company for all its operating costs. This provision has encouraged companies to buy machineries and services mainly from their sister companies at unusually high prices because anyway they will be reimbursed by our government;

7. The receipt from oil sales are divided as follows : first, the contractor gets back all his operating costs, then 60% of the net goes to the government and 40% goes to the service contractor. However, the income tax of the oil company is pais to the government out of the 60% share of the government itself;

8. Although it has no freight or transportation costs for local oil, a contractor is allowed to sell its products at the government price for imported oil. So, our people do not even benefit in terms of reduced prices for oil that is part of the natural wealth of our county;

9. Finally, our government guarantees that all profits of service contractor can be repatriated. This means that we have depleted our dollar reserves to provide them with dollars that they can take out.

In February 12, 2010, in a letter signed by Masli Quilaman, Executive Director of NCIP or the National Commission for the Indigenous Peoples said that there was no Certificate of Pre-condition issued by his office to Pitkin.

Last Thursday,- March 18, 2010, the Sangguniang Bayan of Sablayan headed by its presiding officer, Vice-Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano, through a committee meeting recommended to Pitkin that it should first secure Certificate of Pre-condition from the NCIP before they could resume their operations within the ancestral domain of the Tau-Buid Mangyans in their municipality. Further legislative actions are expected from the SB are hoped by the Fakasadian Mangagoyang Tau-Buid Daga, Inc. or FAMATODI and Pantribung Samahan sa Kanlurang Mindoro (PASAKAMI), the two Mangyan organizations who are against SC 53.

But Pitkin representatives who were invited in the meeting insisted that the MOA between DOE-Pitkin and the newly-organized groups of Tau-Buids including the latter’s “Pahintulot” (“Permit to Operate’) are sufficient for them to resume their operation. The new group formed by Pitkin itself reportedly received an almost half a million peso worth of community projects from said petroleum company.

Lessons re-learned : The long tested “divide and rule” tactic is effective even in Mangyans communities; and, even a legislative “ghost” from the dark days of our history could still hound us as a nation….

(Map from Pitkin PLC website)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Praying Pacquiao

Dionesia Pacquiao once admitted in an interview that she dreamed of her son Manny becoming a priest. Aside from his talent and skills, inside and outside of the boxing ring, the Pacman is being admired by the whole world they say because of his religiosity and deep faith. Whenever he went up the ring, the seven-time world boxing champion is seen bending his knees in prayers and wearing an expensive rosary. For many of us Filipinos and the Pacquiao fans all over the world, - specially Catholics like him, those gestures are just like any other public religious display, a form of evangelism.

What I am not comfortable with this display of Christian faith is when Manny always attribute his every victory to divine intervention. But isn’t Jesus who he is thanking was associated often with people regarded by their contemporaries as losers like thieves, beggars, prostitutes and lepers? Were the people’s champ ‘victims’ forsaken by Jesus during the training and eventually the actual bout? Just asking.

In his book “Onward Christian Athletes,’’ Tom Krattenmaker would welcome, instead, a deeper, less doctrinaire and perhaps quieter injection of traditional Christian values into the world of sports. But Tennessee Titans All-Pro center Kevin Mawae said his Christianity is part of who he is and he can’t separate it from his life as an athlete or anywhere else. He said : “The fact that some people are jaded toward religion or faith shouldn’t stop a player from expressing his faith in public.” But Krattenmaker isn’t asking athletes to stop talking about religion but just to be more sensitive in their tone and timing.

Tone and timing. These reminded me of Manny Pacquiao’s claim that he have seen God face to face in his youth. In his 31st birthday bash in General Santos City last December he said in front of more than one thousand guests, “In my 31 years here on Earth, God appeared to me once and told me to have unconditional faith in him. I was not yet very popular and world champion when our God appeared to me and assured me of strength and power.”

Was it just reflection of the joy of the faith when Manny publicly talked about God this way? Or he just expressed good news with people? That I do not know.

All I know is Manny won over Joshua Clottey via wide decision just some minutes ago in Texas...

(Photo from