Mining in the Philippines
In July 2006 I 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. We met with communities affected by mining and proposals for new mines. We heard how indigenous people had been shifted off their lands to make way for mining and how their consultation rights had been undermined and ignored. We saw polluted rivers, destroyed mangrove forests, damaged coral and ruined agriculture.
We concluded that the Philippines is in danger of losing much of its rich biodiversity and damaging the lives of unique indigenous cultures. I believe that current plans for mining in the Philippines should be scrapped and a new strategy put in place which takes proper account of the large number of jobs that already exist in small scale mining and the need to establish criteria for that development of the mining industry which protects the precious and unique biodiversity of the Philippines and the rights of indigenous communities.
Mining in the Philippines Essay Example
During our visit, we found scant evidence of mining benefiting local people or the country’s conomy. We believe that the Government of the Philippines and the mining companies have failed to comply with national law and international standards. We believe that the Government should be challenged to demonstrate that it is willing to adhere to its own laws and international mining best practice by immediately refusing all mining applications which would damage critical watersheds, ecosystems, agriculture or fisheries or lead to serious social disruption. We are also concerned that some of the mining companies are based in the UK and increasingly money raised in the City of London is being used to fund disastrous projects.
World Bank support for an expansion of destructive mining in the Philippines is also a matter of great concern and given the substantial provision of funding to the World Bank by UK taxpayers, a matter that should be taken up by parliamentarians and the Department for International Development. Similarly the European Union claims that its development programmes are dedicated to the protection of the rights of indigenous people and to a strong commitment to sustainable development but its development interventions in the Philippines are failing to live up to these standards.
All these development agencies should play a bigger role in helping the Philippines protect and restore its degraded environment and thus enhance and provide a sustainable future for millions of poor people working in agriculture and fisheries. We also believe that the investor community must behave more responsibly in their investment decisions in the Philippines. My own conclusion from the visit was that I have never seen anything so systematically destructive as the mining programme in the Philippines.
The environmental effects are catastrophic as are the effects on people’s livelihoods. The attached report has been prepared by Cathal Doyle, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Clive Wicks a UK Member of CEESP the IUCN Commission on Environmental Economic and Social Policy and Fr Frank Nally, UK Columban Faith and Justice Office and takes further the conclusions that I have outlined here.
We all wish to express our solidarity with and admiration for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which has been vocal in its public opposition to the country’s 1995 Mining Act, local mining practices and plans for a massive expansion of mining. Clare Short MP House of Commons 13 December 2006 i Acronyms and Abbreviations