Philippines: Mining for the people, not for profit!

Jun. 05, 2007

MANILA — We are rallying before the 7th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and the Asean Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA) because we wish to protect our country, as well as other struggling countries throughout the Asia Pacific region, from the environmental tsunami brought about by foreign mining giants.

We are not anti-mining. We believe that mining has a fundamental role in national industrialization, that it can be responsibly utilized for the people’s welfare: to meet the needs of hospitals and schools, homes and industries. Mining has its rightful place in a society where governance and science and technology is for the people, and not for corporate interests. We believe that mining can be made sustainable if pursued at a much balanced scale in contrast to the present practices of all-out mineral extraction, waste generation, and plunder.

But the kind of mining that the Arroyo administration and the AFMA is promoting will never serve the interests of the nation, nor of the majority of the toiling masses who do care for our lands and resources because they know that this is the only source of life for the people.

The kind of mining that Arroyo is rabidly promoting is based on greed, not on stewardship. It is based on a history of colonial plunder, not social change. Its overriding aim is profit, not the people’s welfare. Its primary beneficiaries are foreign mining giants, rather than ordinary Filipinos. Its end is to extend Arroyo’s precarious rule over the country by collecting enough backers from foreign big business, at a time when majority of the Filipino people have rejected her administration.

President Arroyo, as a principal author of the Mining Act of 1995 and as an active promoter of mining liberalization, is guilty of treason. These policies and programs practically sell the country’s remaining mineral reserves, lands and waterways to foreigners. These are pursued at the expense of grave ecological destruction, threats to the people’s health and livelihood, and dubious economic gains. When local communities oppose these foreign mining projects, the state uses its own military forces?the arms which are supposed to protect the Filipino people–to intimidate, threaten, or even kill.

The entry of the world’s largest mining transnational corporations (TNCs) into the Philippines with the full backing of the Arroyo administration will bring this country into a state of calamity and will unleash an environmental tsunami that would engulf the people in a tide of unparalleled hardship.

Many of these mining giants encouraged by the government to invest in the Philippines?such as BHP Billiton and Anglo-American?are notorious in other countries for their role in grave environmental disasters, spotty human rights records, and anti-labor histories.

BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company which is eyeing a multi-million dollar nickel project in Pujada, Davao Oriental, faces a $4 billion class suit by the people of Papua New Guinea. For two decades, it dumped 80,000 tons of mine tailings filled with toxic heavy metals such as lead directly into the Fly and Ok Tedi rivers, ruining the livelihoods of the peopl, poisoning forests, and contaminating river systems. Anglo-American, the fourth largest mining company in the world, paid its South African laborers the world’s lowest wages and was named as one of the main toxic lead polluters in North America. Now, it has numerous mining operations in the Cordillera and Mindanao, some of which have been even classified by the government as “priority projects”.

We do not want this to happen in the Philippines. Certainly, we do not want these foreign mining giants to unleash its greed for profit and replicate the same human rights violations, anti-labor practices, health hazards, and environmental degradation here.

We resolve to unite against the presence of plunderous foreign mining firms and their collaborators in local governance and industry. We will struggle on until the Filipino people as well as all other mining-affected communities throughout the region will be able to forge a mining policy that will truly benefit the toiling masses of all lands.

Foreign mining TNCs out of Asia!

Scrap the Mining Act of 1995!

Defend our patrimony, promote a Peoples’ Mining Policy!

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