MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines report: rice and water sacrificed to mining; moratorium demanded

Published by MAC on 2009-02-23

It's now 14 years since the Philippine government passed its fiercely "neo liberal" mining act. In the years since, the devastating impacts of both foreign and domestically-funded extractive projects have been registered around the country.

Crying "Enough is too much!" a major report, published last month, sets out in close detail what these impacts have been - particularly on rice production and the quality of vital water supplies.


Philippines: 'Focus on rice production not mining' says new report

Independent Catholic News

http://www.indcatholicnews.com/ricee322.html

10th February 2009

Church opposition in the Philippines to destructive mining on its islands was supported by Church leaders in Britain yesterday, 9 February, at the launch of a new report at Westminster titled, Philippines: Mining or Food? It was commissioned by the UK-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, which is chaired by Clare Short MP and involves Columban Faith and Justice, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, and Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links.

Bishop John Arnold, auxiliary in the Catholic Diocese of Westminster and Anglican Bishop Michael Doe, General Secretary of Anglicans in World Mission, attended, giving support to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and the Philippine Independent Church, which have worked closely with those affected by and protesting against mining companies.

Bishop Doe reflected that he has personally known Church personnel, including one bishop, who were murdered because they opposed mining projects. The Canadian Catholic Bishops Conference sent a message of support to the launch, saying, "the Catholic Bishops of Canada continue to encourage their episcopal confreres in the Philippines, and all those who collaborate with them, in their important and timely efforts to protect our planet as a gift from God".

Report authors and environmental experts Clive Wicks and Robert Goodland recommended that new mining is halted in the Philippines and that international investment is withdrawn until procedures are in place to protect human rights and the environment. They provided evidence that the mining of gold, nickel and other minerals is causing large-scale ruin of island environments and people's livelihoods, particularly undermining rice production and poisoning water. Even whole mountains can be destroyed to access precious minerals, harming the country's tribal peoples. "Focus on rice production and not on mining," urged Robert Goodland.

The authors joined Filipino campaigners and the country's Catholic Bishops in calling for the Mining Act of 1995, which opened the country up to foreign mining companies, to be revoked. "The Church joins in the collective and continuous call against the uncontrollable plunder of our natural resources," said the bishops in 2008. "Above all" they added, "it calls on a moratorium on mining activities until the government and the mining companies learn to uphold the right of the indigenous peoples, compensate the affected communities for past damages, and ensure responsible mining practices".

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous woman from the Northern Philippines, who is currently Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, also spoke at the launch, welcoming the report. "Mining is not the path to our development" she said, "and we will be picking up on the report's recommendations back in the Philippines".

Companies with a British base whose plans for mining in the Philippines are being challenged include Xstrata Copper, BHP Billiton, and Crew Minerals. Clare Short criticised the very substantial role the City of London has in financing large-scale mining in the Philippines, and encouraged investors present at the launch to review their involvement in Philippines mining.

See also:

The full report and abbreviated version: http://www.piplinks.org/miningorfood

Blog of the Philippines' launches of the report: http://philippinesminingorfood.blogspot.com/

Maps of the six mining sites which are the focus of the report's case studies - http://www.piplinks.org/maps

Clare Short MP introducing the 2009 report, Philippines - Mining or Food? - http://www.youtube.com/user/PiplinksTV


Halt mining in the Philippines says new report

By staff writers, Ekklesia

9th February 2009

A report launched today (Monday) in the UK will call for a moratorium on new mining in the Philippines.

Supported by UK Bishops and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, it will urge a review existing mining projects and a withdrawal of international investment in mining until ‘proper procedures' are in place to protect human rights and the environment.
It will also bring pressure to bear on the Church of England concerning its own £80 million investments in two of the mining groups which the report challenges.
Entitled Philippines - Mining or Food, the report provides evidence that mining is causing large-scale ruin of island environments and people's livelihoods, in particular undermining food production and sustainability.

The report will be launched today in Westminster by former British Minister for International Development and Chair of the UK-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, Clare Short MP.

Alongside her will be Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an Igorot indigenous woman from the Cordillera Region of Northern Philippines, and Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as Catholic Bishop John Arnold, Auxiliary Bishop in the Catholic Diocese of Westminster and Bishop Michael Doe, General Secretary of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission.

The report's authors, Robert Goodland a former environmental advisor to the World Bank, and Clive Wicks, visited the Philippines in February 2008 and documented six actual and proposed mining locations on the islands of Mindoro and Mindanao.

They warn that the large-scale mining proposed for the Philippines threatens to wreak havoc, compounding a legacy of deforestation and habitat destruction.

The report provides evidence to show that the extraction process damages food production, particularly rice, and imperils fisheries. The Philippines already relies on rice imports because of the decline in its domestic production. The authors join Filipino campaigners and the country's Catholic Bishops in calling for the Mining Act of 1995, which opened the country up to foreign mining companies, to be revoked.

Companies whose plans for mining are being challenged include Xstrata Copper, BHP Billiton, TVI Pacific, Philex Gold, and Intex Resources.

The Church of England has a £33.2 million shareholding in Xstrata group, of which Xstrata Copper is a part, and a £47.5 million shareholding in BHP Billiton, according to its last annual report.

Clare Short MP will draw attention to the very substantial role the City of London has played in financing mining around the world, including the Philippines, and the existing involvement, in the Philippines, of a number of companies with a British base of operations.
She supports lobbying of the British Government, the European Union and the World Bank to recognise the seriousness of the situation and act in a responsible manner to respect the wishes of the affected communities.

The report includes maps to demonstrate the overlap of mining locations - both existing and proposed - with indigenous ancestral domains, watersheds and areas of environmental importance, all of which are critical for agricultural and food security in the island nation.

The Philippine Government presents mining as "sustainable", as do the mining comanies involved, but many Filipinos reject this. Mining is also frequently associated with generating or exacerbating corruption, fueling armed conflicts, increasing militarisation and human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings. Codes of conduct and standards for the extractive industries conclude that mining should not be permitted in conflict zones.

The London-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines incorporates the missionary society of St Columban and the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR).


Philippines Warned About Choosing Mining over Food

One World Net

12th February 2009

OneWorld US, Asian Human Rights Commission, Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links, The Working Group on Mining in the Philippines

WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (OneWorld.net) - A coalition of Filipino organizations is warning that proposed mining operations will "wreak havoc" by destroying natural habitats, uprooting indigenous peoples, and threatening rice production and local fisheries on several islands.

"Once self-sufficient in rice, the Philippines is now the world's biggest importer and, with world rice prices tripling this year, it has to pay record prices," said UK MP Clare Short in the Working Group on Mining in the Philippines' "Mining or Food" report [pdf]. "In a country where two-thirds of the population live on only $2 a day, this means that more Filipino families are being forced into poverty. The problem is rooted in the failure of the Philippine Government to maintain the health of its agricultural sector and to conserve vital natural resources, such as tropical forests and water, which contribute to national rice output. The loss of watersheds, for example, has a direct impact on the water supply for irrigation that is so vital for rice farmers. Yet, the Government seems to regard forests purely as a source of timber and as potential areas for mining."

"The whole archipelago, 7,107 islands, has been offered for exploration and mining," said Father Frank Nally, a human rights activist and former priest and missionary, who was part of the Working Group's fact-finding delegation to the Philippines. He sat down with the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong to discuss what he saw on that trip and the negative effects mining will have on the Philippines:


PHILIPPINES: Mining or Food?

From: Asian Human Rights Commission

9th February 2009

On February 5, 2009, Fr. Frank Nally, former Columban priest missionary in the Phillippines and human Rights activist came to Hong Kong to discuss the content of a new report showing the intimate connection between mining and food production. Fr. Frank's expertise draws from his experience as a member of the "Working Group" on Mining in the Philippines. The report is supported by the office of Clare Short MP who is involved in the Westminster launch of the above mentioned report. The report is authored by Robert Goodland and Clive Wicks, as well as two United Kingdom bishops, Bishop John Arnold, Auxilliary Bishop in the Diocese of Westminster and Bishop Michael Doe, General Secretary of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission, who stand in solidarity with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines in their opposition to destructive mining in their country.

In February 2008 the working group on mining came to the Philippines, and documented six actual and proposed mining locations on the islands of Mindoro and Mindanao. They warned that the large-scale mining proposed for the Philippines threatens to wreak havoc, compounding a legacy of deforestation and habitat destruction. Evidence is provided to show that the extraction process damages food production, particularly rice, and imperils fisheries. The Philippines already relies on rice imports because of the decline in its domestic production.

The report calls for a number of things, to name a few: a national moratorium on mining; Prioritization of Food production; uphold the Right to Food and stop Human Rights abuses; Stabilize livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples through reforestation; and a rejection of the Mining Act 1995 which opened the country up to foreign mining companies, to be revoked.
Unless the problem is immediately addressed and the more urgent of the recommendations carried out, the threat of real hunger becomes quite immediate and real. In fact so many of the poor, have begun suffering.

Fr. Frank's short interview underscores the concern of a priest and foreigner who a number of times unabashedly asked, "With mining what happens to the "Pearl" of the orient? Don't we now see how the Pearl of the Orient is now imperiled?

The interview can be viewed on Youtube at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7lza-rVu9k


Foreign environmental experts recommend repeal of Mining Law
Mindanao Examiner

7th February 2009

QUEZON CITY, Philippines - According to environmental scientist Dr Robert Goodland and Mr Clive Montgomery Wicks, the Philippine government should repeal the Mining Law and immediately and replace it with legislation which is consistent with the Philippine constitution, applies the Precautionary Principle and adequately protects human rights, indigenous peoples rights and the environment while regulating mining for public interest.

The Mining Law otherwise known as Republic Act 7942, was passed in 1995 and has since been the subject of much criticism from major sectors of Philippine society.

The experts made the recommendation in their report, Philippines: Mining or Food, which looked at six proposed mining sites and examined their potential impact on the ecology and food security of the Philippines which was launched February 4 at Balay Kalinaw in University of the Philippines Diliman campus.

Dr Goodland, who worked as a senior environmental adviser for the World Bank for 23 years and Mr Clive Montgomery Wicks, who worked for the Worldwide Fund for Nature and is currently Vice-Chair of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (IUCN-CEESP), were commissioned by the London-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines February 2008 to visit the country in order to investigate more fully, document and map some key sites targeted for mining.

According to the authors of the report, the existing Mining Law "favors foreign or multinational corporations (MNCs) with benefits such as tax holidays and repatriation of income to their home countries and is economically disadvantageous to the Philippine people as the Philippine state has no share as owner in trust of the resources."

"In addition mining MNCs are allowed access to vast tract of land under the financial and technical assistance agreement scheme that accompanies the act, leaving little rights to so-called "surface owners" whom MNCs often forcefully evict from their lands," the report states.

"The report confirms what indigenous peoples, environmentalists and other sectors of civil society have been saying all along: that the Mining Act of 1995 is hopelessly skewed in favor of large, foreign mining interests at the expense of local communities and the national interest," said Judith Pasimio, of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), a legal and policy research NGO asserted. "The flaws in the current mining law cannot be remedied by mere amendments. It must be scrapped now before it does even more damage."
LRC is currently drafting an alternative mining legislation to replace the existing law. (Rovik Obanil)

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