Filipino and Australian environmentalist groups on Wednesday held a united action condemning open-pit mining that exploits the Philippines’ natural resources and violates the rights of indigenous peoples.
Newly formed Mining Action Philippines– Australia (MAP-Oz) dropped banners that stated 'Open cut mining scars the Earth, No to Roxby Expansion' and 'Philippines: Yes to Food, No to Mining' on a bridge along Eastern Freeway in Melbourne, Australia.
“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,” Rod Galicha of the Philippines’ anti-mining alliance Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), convenor of MAP-Oz.
MAP-Oz is composed of various Filipino and Australian groups and organization which aim to monitor, assess, evaluate and expose various environmental and human and indigenous peoples’ rights issues of Australian mining companies in the Philippines.
The group joined Friends of the Earth– Melbourne (FoE) in the Global Day of Action Against Open-pit Mining which was done simultaneously around the world by members of Friends of the Earth International especially in Mexico, the Philippines and Canada.
Galicha said the Philippine government 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”.
“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 said.
Mia Pepper of FoE said that “Australians should be aware that 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”.
“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,” Pepper said.