Saturday, July 25, 2009

MAP-Oz @ CBCP News

Filipinos, Australians denounce 'destructive' mining in RP

MELBOURNE, Australia, July 24, 2009—Filipino and Australian environmental activists jointly condemned the "destructive" mining practices in the Philippines advocated by Australian companies in a protest that was simultaneously done in other parts of world.

Activists unfurled banners of protests on a bridge along Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway, July 22, denouncing open-cut mining in the Philippines with words, “Open-cut mining scars the Earth, No to Roxby Expansion” and “Philippines: Yes to Food, No to Mining.”

The protest was also staged in Mexico, Philippines and Canada by members of Friends of the Earth International.

An anti-mining alliance of various groups and organizations called Mining Action Philippines-Australia (MAP-Oz), joined Friends of the Earth-Melbourne (FoE) in a Global Day of Action against open-pit mining.

MAP-Oz convenor and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) officer Rodne Galicha denounced the trampling of human rights and reckless ecological destruction caused by mining.

“Despite wanton environmental degradation, human rights violations and indigenous peoples’ rights abuses, Philippine and Australian companies continue to connive with the government to exploit our natural resources,” Galicha, in a media release sent to CBCPNews, said.

Citing Philippine government’s failure to protect the people’s right to a sustainable livelihood and safe environment, Galicha further accused the government of implementing laws that favor mining companies.

“The Philippine government still denies these abuses and violations, and continues to harmonize environmental policies in favor of the mining law, thus mining licenses are being given immediately without genuine consultation and consent from communities,” Galicha said, adding:

“Open-pit mining has been promoted and causes widespread deforestation and land use conversion that causes 20 to 25 percent of carbon emissions that cause climate change. We never learned our lesson,” he lamented.

In the same media release posted on MAP-oz blog, Australian Mia Pepper, an FoE member, said Australians should be conscious of real issues behind anti-mining advocacies in the Philippines.

“Australians should be aware of mining companies like BHP Billiton which put a protected area in danger, Indophil/Xstrata which is continuously being opposed, Central Gold Asia facing opposition everyday in Masbate, OceanaGold challenged by the local government of Nueva Vizcaya for tax issues and opposed by the indigenous communities, Pelican Resources with its Filipino partner that caused the murder of a local official, Royalco creating divisions among indigenous peoples, and the list still continues,” Pepper said.

The environmentalist criticized Australian investors for exploiting people and resources in pursuit of their own convenience.

“Through AusAID, we help the Filipinos, but our fellow Australians with mining investments take the opportunity of exploiting their resources and these poor people in the villages where some of our aid go are being displaced, abused and sometimes their lives at stake. Australians should avoid expediency,” she stressed.

MAP-Oz is a newly-formed alliance of various Filipino and Australian groups and organizations. The group monitors, assesses, evaluates and exposes various environmental, human and indigenous peoples’ rights issues of Australian mining companies in the Philippines. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

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