Outrage over ‘green’ award for Philippine president

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

The UK-based Working  Group on Mining in the Philippines - which includes  church groups - has  written letters of complaint to the Chief Executives of  two organisations which  gave a ‘green’ award to the Philippine president  at the US Congress in  Washington yesterday.

The  Washington-based  International  Conservation Caucus Foundation  (ICCF) and the Global  Environment Facility  (GEF) gave President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the  Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award for “innovative leadership to protect the 
oceans and preserve the biodiversity of the coral triangle” in South-East Asia. 

In letters to Bill  Archer, Chairman of the ICCF, and to Monique Barbut,  Chief Executive Officer and  Chairperson of the GEF, the group suggested that  honouring President Gloria  Macapagal-Arroyo as a conservationist and  protector of biodiversity is akin to  giving a fox an award for chicken husbandry.  Signatories said it would damage  the reputation of the awarding  organisations among all those who know the recent  history and current situation in the Philippines and the role of the  President in worsening that situation. President Arroyo, in their view, has led  a deeply corrupt regime that has  promoted and profited from environmental  despoilation by mining, logging,  overfishing and the promotion of unsustainable  plantation production.  In particular, the  scale of her promotion of mining and the associated  corruption have placed large  areas of critical mega-biodiverse ecosystems
under severe stress, depriving  indigenous and other poor communities of their  right to food and subsistence and  subjecting them to militarization to  impose her policies.

For evidence, the  group refers to their two reports: Mining  in the Philippines: Concerns and  Conflicts, 2007; and Philippines: Mining  or Food?, 2009: www.eccr.org.uk/Publications

The Working Group also  points out that under her nine-year rule, President  Arroyo has also presided  over a regime internationally condemned for its  human rights record, including  the assassination, disappearance, and murder  of legal opposition figures and  local community leaders. The Philippines  has also become,  according to Amnesty International, one of the world's worst  regimes for the  killing of journalists. According to Transparency  International it is now a  notoriously corrupt state.

The Letter  Signatories are:
Rt Revd Michael Doe,  General Secretary of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission,
Rachel Parry, Advocacy  Officer of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission,
Fr Frank Nally, Faith  & Justice Office of the Missionary Society of St Columban,
Geoff Nettleton,  Co-ordinator of Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks), 
Cathal Doyle,  Researcher at the University of Middlesex Law Department,
Miles Litvinoff,  Co-ordinator Ecumenical Council for Corporate  Responsibility (ECCR). 

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