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Friday, December 9, 2016
Major report on destructive mining launched in London and Manila
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¬†The lives of millions of people in the Philippines will be put at risk and there will be catastrophic environmental damage if new mining projects - partly funded by our own high street banks - are given the go-ahead, a new report revealed today. The report: 'Mining in the Philippines - Concerns and Conflicts', published by the Columbans with a number of NGOs working in the region was unveiled at a launch in the Houses of Parliament hosted by Clare Short MP, former British Minster for International Development, who recently took part in a fact-finding mission to the region. Hundreds of people attended the simultaneous launch in Manila, at the University of Santo Thomas. Mining in the Philippines has an extremely poor reputation. It has already 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 ≠ some involving British companies - will seriously exacerbate all these problems. In July/August 2006, Clare Short MP, led a team of human rights and environmental experts on a 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 report catalogues the findings of the team, and makes recommendations to improve the situation. Some key recommendations are: - 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 cancelling all current mining applications which will inevitably cause major environmental damage to critical watersheds, eco-systems, agriculture or fisheries and result in social disruption, such as those in Midsalip, Mindanao, visited by the team. - 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. - 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 investment. -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. Fr Frank Nally, a Columban priest, 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 report launch there. Speaking at the launch, Fr Frank said the Philippines was one of the most beautiful countries in the world. "This is God's cathedral" he said. "with a huge number of plants, trees and flower unique to the islands." The indigenous people speak over 80 different languages. "they tread very lightly on the earth." Cathal Doyle, one of the reports authors, said that when loggers first moved in to destroy the forests these people moved up into the mountains. Now the mines are threatening to flatten the mountains they will have nowhere to go." Copies of the report and more information about organisations involved in the campaign can be found on the following websites. www.columban.com www.piplinks.org www.alyansatigilmina.org A blog of the fact-finding trip can be found at www.philippinesfactfinding.blogspot.com.
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