Green groups to Canadian PM: Mine your own business
ENVIRONMENT activists trooped to the Canadian Embassy today to greet the arrival of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with protests decrying long-standing environmental crimes of Canadian mining corporations in the Philippines.
Calling for the immediate pullout of errant Canadian miners from the country, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), joined by the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, Promotion for Church People’s Response, AGHAM-Advocates of Science & Technology for the People, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED) and Batangas-based Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan, also challenged Harper to hasten the resolution of long-standing cases against known mining disasters caused by Canadian companies.
“The people will never forget the death of Boac River in Marinduque province when an estimated 1.6 million metric tons of toxic mine tailings inundated the river system in 1996. The Marcopper Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Canadian company Placer Dome and the perpetrator of the disaster, has yet to indemnify the hundreds of victim families 16 years later,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Boac River was the source of livelihood for hundreds of families, but was declared biologically dead because of the Marcopper mine spill. Residents suffered from skin and respiratory problems, water contamination, destruction of homes and livelihoods, and even the death of at least three children due to heavy metal poisoning.
Majority shares of Placer Dome were acquired in 2006 by Barrick Gold, another Canadian mining company.
“Harper should note that his country’s mining giants are violative of environment and human rights standards, clearly not as advertised. TVIRD, the local affiliate of Canadian miner TVI Pacific, had two mine tailings spilling incidents in 2004 and 2007 in its Canatuan gold project in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. It is also implicated in various incidents of human rights violations, including the recent frustrated murder of Subanen tribal chieftain Timuay Locenio Manda,” said Bautista.
The attempted assassination of Manda resulted in the death of his 11 year-old son, Jordan. TVIRD personnel were also involved in other incidences of violent human rights violations, such as the killing of a small-scale miner, Wilbert Catampungan, and the wounding of his two companions only this July.
“While these atrocities made by Canadian mining firms continue to occur as we speak, more Canadian miners are pouring into the country as we speak. In Batangas province, two open-pit miners, Crazy Horse and MRL Gold, will cover critical upland forest ecosystems and fertile agricultural lands if their projects push through. Their projected effects can even affect the rich Batangas Bay and the Verde Island Passage, declared by marine biologists as the Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity in 2006,” lamented Bautista.
The mine project of Crazy Horse, covering 4,085.9202 hectares of land, have been approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to be converted into a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), which Bautista said will “allow for 100-percent foreign ownership of Batangas’ land and give Crazy Horse incentives and auxiliary rights that will deplete the country’s mineral patrimony at the expense of the environment.”
“It is clear that from Marcopper to Crazy Horse, irresponsible Canadian mining has never improved and is still wreaking havoc in our country. If Harper truly respects the Filipino people’s sovereignty, he should be instrumental to the immediate pullout of these mining corporations. We ask him to ‘mine his own business’ if their foreign capital will not benefit our communities and be detrimental to our ecological integrity and community welfare,” asserted Bautista.
“The gross inaction of Pres. Benigno Aquino III on the growing number of environmental and human rights crimes from all mining corporations does not help in the plight of affected communities. Aquino must also be held accountable for perpetrating this culture of impunity towards opponents of destructive mining and other environmental activists,” said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of TF-JED.