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New Report Says Mining is a Threat to Food Security in the Philippines and Calls for a Moratorium on Mining

February 9, 2009 ·  , Working Group on Mining in the Philippines Press Release

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Philippines ­ Mining or Food? ­ Launch of Report on Monday 9 February 2009, 11.30am-1pm Meeting in the Jubilee Room, Palace of Westminster

Former British Minister for International Development and Chair of the UK-based 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 report¹s authors, Robert Goodland and Clive Wicks, and two UK bishops who are supporting the Catholic Bishops¹ 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 people¹s livelihoods, particularly undermining food production and sustainability.

On behalf of the Working Group, Robert Goodland ­ a former environmental advisor to the World Bank ­ 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 country¹s 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 follows a Manila launch on 4 February, where Robert Goodland and Clive Wicks spoke. They also revisited mining projects mentioned in the report in January. 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 ³sustainable², 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.

NOTES:
For a youtube short clip of Clare Short MP introducing the report see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPZqA85gPCA&feature=channel_page
A copy of the full report is available on www.piplinks.org/miningorfood and maps on www.piplinks.org.maps.
Photos of Robert Goodland and Clive Wicks in the Philippines researching for the report available from Ellen Teague.
Robert Goodland ­ Washington-based and for 20 years an environmental advisor to the World Bank ­ is in London at present and can be interviewed on 020 7794 8131.
Press contacts:
Ellen Teague, Working Group on Mining in the Philippines (WGMP) and Media Desk, Columban Faith and Justice
0208 954 6255
Mobile: 07956 317338
vocforjus@aol.com
Andy Whitmore, WGMP and Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links
0775 439 5597
whit@gn.apc.org
The London-based Working Group on Mining in the Philippines incorporates:
PHILIPPINE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES LINKS (PIPLinks),
THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF ST. COLUMBAN,
CEESP ­ THE IUCN COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL POLICY,
ECUMENICAL COUNCIL FOR CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY (ECCR),
IRISH CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (ICHR),
Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks) upholds and promotes the collective and individual human rights of Indigenous Peoples and other land-based communities in the Philippines.
The Missionary Society of St. Columban, with headquarters in Ireland, has nearly 600 missionaries of ten nationalities ministering in 14 countries, including the Philippines.

IUCN-CEESP ­ The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy has over 1300 members and they provide expertise on ways to harmonise biodiversity conservation with the crucial socioeconomic and cultural concerns of human communities, such as livelihoods, poverty eradication, development, equity, human and community rights, cultural identity, security and the fair and effective governance of natural resources. Press please note: IUCN- Commissions are mandated by their members and Commissions should be referred to by their full titles. Commission members are all volunteers not IUCN staff and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN as an organisation.

The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) is a membership organisation of the British and Irish churches working for economic justice, environmental stewardship, and corporate and investor responsibility.
The Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR), based at the National University of Ireland Galway, is dedicated to the study and promotion of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The Report Authors:
Robert Goodland is an environmental scientist specializing in economic development. He advised the World Bank Group from 1978 through 2001. He then became the technical director to H.E. Dr. Emil Salim¹s independent Extractive Industry Review (http://www.ifc.org/eir) of the World Bank Group¹s portfolio of oil, gas and mining projects. He was elected president of the International Association of Impact Assessment, and Metropolitan Chair of the Ecological Society of America. He was awarded the World Conservation Union¹s Coolidge medal in October 2008.

Clive Wicks has 48 years of experience of working in engineering, agriculture and environment, specializing in the impact of extractive industries on the environment. He is a vice chair of IUCN-CEESP (IUCN¹s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy) and co-chairs SEAPRISE (IUCN-CEESP¹s Working Group on the Social and Environmental Accountability of the Private Sector). He worked in the international environmental movement for the last 24 years, mainly with WWF UK. He headed WWF UK¹s African, Asian and Latin American programs, and represented WWF at G8, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, UNEP and UNDP meetings on extractive industries.
Also speaker, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is currently Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues which meets annually in New York. Victoria originally qualified and worked as a nurse in her native Philippines before becoming an activist for Indigenous Peoples rights. She herself is a Kankanai Igorot from the Cordillera Region of the Northern Philippines. She is the Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation which is a research, education and advocacy NGO working on Indigenous issues. She is very concerned on Mining issues and food security and Tebtebba is a leader in research and documentation on these matters as they affect indigenous peoples not only in the Philippines. Victoria was one of the Joint Chair persons of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus that worked with state representatives at the General Assembly of the UN to ensure the passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007. She is a well known and respected Indigenous Rights activist with more than 30 years experience of working on these issues.

Statement for the launch from Bishop Michael Doe 4.2.09:

“USPG: Anglicans in World Mission is a Church of England mission agency founded over three hundred years ago and today supporting the work of Anglican churches all around the Anglican Communion. In many places this work includes standing with the poor and the struggle for justice. We are in partnership with the two Anglican churches in the Philippines and in particular the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) which I visited in 2007. The IFI works closely with those affected by and protesting against the mining companies, and in October 2006 the Supreme Bishop of this church, Bishop Alberto Ramento, was killed following several threats to his life. Last August Fr. Romeo Tagud from the IFI, who serves as secretary-general of the human rights campaign, Promotion of Church Peoples¹ Response (PCPR) in Negros, received an envelope containing an M16 bullet in an attempt to warn him off. A fellow IFI priest, Fr. William Tadena, was one of four church workers ambushed and killed in 2005 for supporting striking workers and opposing the militarization of his province. Fr Tagud’s response was, ŒThe Christian Church urges us to courageously defend and vindicate the rights of the poor and the oppressed, even when doing so will mean alienation or persecution from the rich and powerful¹. I welcome the publication of this report for the evidence it provides on both the human rights and environmental consequences of the way that the current investment in mining is being carried out.”

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