New report calls for moratorium on mining in Philippines

 Former British Minister for International Development and Chair of the Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, Clare Short MP, is to host the Westminster launch on Monday 9 February of a new report, Philippines Mining or Food? 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.

Also present will be the report's authors, Robert Goodland and Clive Wicks, and two UK bishops who are standing in solidarity with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines in their opposition to destructive mining in their country 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 calls for a moratorium on new mining in the Philippines, a review of 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 provides evidence that mining is causing large-scale ruin of island environments and people's livelihoods, particularly undermining food production and sustainability.
On behalf of the Working Group, Robert Goodland 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. 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 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.

The London launch will follow a similar one in Manila on 4 February, where Robert Goodland and Clive Wicks will also be present. Companies whose plans for mining are being challenged include Xstrata Copper, BHP Billiton, TVI Pacific, Philex Gold, and Intex Resources.

Clare Short MP will draw attention to the very substantial role the City of London has 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", 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.


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