”˜Mining in the Philippines – Concerns and Conflicts’ Fact Finding Mission to the Philippines Report
Former British Minster for International Development, Clare Short MP, will launch a report, critical of destructive mining practices in the Philippines, at 11am in the Jubilee Room, Westminster Hall, London, on 25th January 2007. A simultaneous launch will be held in Manila, the Philippine capital, at the Auditorium of the St. Thomas Aquinas Research Complex Building, Dapitan Gate, University of Santo Thomas (UST), Espaã±a, Metro-Manila.
Mining in the Philippines has an extremely poor reputation. It has left over 800 abandoned mines littered throughout the countryside, caused massive environmental damage and has been linked to serious human rights abuses. The legacy from abandoned mines and the operation of existing ones continue to negatively affect the livelihoods of many thousands of poor Filipinos. These effects are particularly detrimental to the Philippines indigenous peoples. Over 800 extrajudicial killings are reported since 2001. Disturbingly, a number of these are believed to be directly linked to protests against mining. The current plans for a major expansion of the mining industry will seriously exacerbate all of these problems.
In July/August 2006, Clare Short, the MP for Birmingham Ladywood led a team of human rights and environmental experts on a fact-finding visit to the Philippines in order to examine the impact of mining on the environment and people’s livelihoods. In her Foreword to the Report she says that she was ”deeply shocked by the negative impact of mining in the Philippines,” and feels that ”the Government of the Philippines and the mining companies have failed to comply with national law and international standards”. Solidarity with and admiration for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is expressed for their public opposition to the country’s 1995 Mining Act and
plans for a massive expansion of mining in the country.
The full 66-page report, ”˜Mining in the Philippines – Concerns and Conflicts’, catalogues the findings of the team, and makes recommendations to a number of parties to improve the situation. It was produced by representatives of the Society of St. Columban, CEESP, ICHR and PIPLinks.
Clare Short MP will chair the launch and all members of the fact-finding team will be available. Copies of the full Report will be available. Some key recommendations are:
Â· The Philippine government should demonstrate that it is willing to adhere to its own laws and to international mining best practice and standards by immediately canceling all current mining applications which will inevitably cause major environmental damage to critical watersheds, ecosystems, agriculture or fisheries and result in social disruption, such as those in Midsalip, Mindanao, visited by the team.
Â· The Philippine government should heed the calls to revoke the Mining Act of 1995 and enact alternative legislation that more effectively protects the interests of the affected local communities, indigenous peoples and the environment.
Â· The World Bank Group should uphold its mandate to help reduce world poverty and protect the environment by halting its promotion and support for mining expansion in the Philippines under current conditions.
* The Investment and Banking community including the Export Credit Agencies should not risk their reputations by investing in any mining companies operating in the Philippines until the Philippine Government stops the Human Rights violations and environmental damage that is currently associated with the mining sector. All mining projects should be inspected by reputable independent organisations before investment. Controls to ensure compliance with National Laws and International Mining Standards must be in place before
* Crew Development Group, a British-based mining company, is urged to remove the Mindoro Nickel Project from the Philippines list of priority projects, in view of the potential environmental damage to the water catchment area, agricultural productivity and the marine environment.
Frank Nally, a Catholic priest of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, who has long campaigned against corporate logging and mining in the Philippines, was turned away at Manila airport on 6 January when he was entering the country to make the final preparations for the Manila-based report launch. A member of the July/August 2006 fact-finding team and one of the authors of the report, he was told he is ”˜blacklisted’ from entering the Philippines.