Filipino and Australian advocates embarked on fact-finding mission to
communities affected by Aussie mine firms

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

29 January 2015

Seeking to validate the social and environmental conditions in various
communities across the Philippines affected by Australian-owned
large-scale mines, environmental and rights advocates from the
Philippines and Australia have embarked on a fact-finding mission
circuiting Bongmal District, South Cotabato and Kasibu Town, Nueva
Vizcaya from January 28 to February 03 , 2015.

“We aim not only to inspect the adverse impacts of Australian-owned
mining to the environment, economy, society and culture of communities
they affect, but to deliver our solidarity to the people’s righteous
resistance as well. It has been widely reported how such
Australian-backed mining transnational corporations or TNCs such as
OceanaGold in Nueva Vizcaya and Glencore-SMI in South Cotabato have been
amassing rights violations and other atrocities towards their host
communities, and we intend to report details on these atrocities back to
our country’s leaders to hold these TNCs accountable,” said Peter Brock,
chairperson of the Action and Peace for Development in the Philippines
(APDP),

Led by Australian solidarity groups APDP, Philippines Australia
Solidarity Association (PASA), and the International League of Peoples’
Struggle in Australia (ILPS-Australia), the mission was joined by the
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Defend
Patrimony Alliance, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP),
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Novo Vizcayano
para sa Kalikasan, SOCSKSARGENDS Agenda, and various other national and
local environment groups and social movements.

Both OceanaGold and Glencore-SMI have been permitted with Financial or
Technical Assistance Agreements or FTAAs for their respective mine
projects, which grants the biggest possible project area as well as both
fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to mining companies.

In a 2010 Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM) in areas covered by
Glencore-SMI’s Tampakan project in South Cotabato, potential serious
impacts such as geological instability, watershed ang agriculture
pollution and disturbance, losses of livelihood and militarization were
identified. A recent EIM held just last year discovered that the Didipio
project of OceanaGold has already caused massive siltation and heavy
metals pollution in different river systems.

“This PH-Australian fact-finding mission is part of a series of
activities which aim to directly support the Filipino people’s struggles
to protect their land and livelihood from mining encroachment and
pollution. It is high time for the Australian people and the
international community at large to hear the plight of indigenous
people, peasants, and other marginalized sectors that have been robbed
of their livelihood and their voice by these Australian mining TNCs,”
explained Sr. Mary Francis Anover, RSM, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony
and national coordinator of RMP.

According to the mission organizers, the findings will help guide an
International Solidarity and Fact-Finding Mission this coming July, and
will serve as basis for lobbying efforts and legislators’ investigations
in the Australian Congress later this year.


Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net

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Australian business, trade to increase presence in PH

Australia notes though that mining is a missed opportunity for the
Philippines, an industry that significantly contributes to the former’s
growth

Chris Schnabel –
http://www.rappler.com/business/economy-watch/82154-australia-business-trade-increase-ph

29 January 2015

BULLISH. Firms from “Down Under” are bullish about their growth
prospects in the Philippines, says Australia senior trade commissioner
Anthony Weymouth (4th from left) with representatives from Australian
businesses. Photo by Chris Schnabel / Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Australia is more bullish in their business and
trade growth prospects in the country, firms from Down Under said.

Anthony Weymouth, Australian senior trade commissioner to the country,
said that it is time for Australia to increase its trade presence in the
Philippines.

Two-way trade between the two countries is at AU$3 billion ($2.40
billion) and an estimated 200 Australian companies now have a
significant presence in the Philippines, employing 15,000 to18,000
Filipinos, Weymouth said.

These include ANZ Bank and Macquarie, two of the major Australian
locators in the country.

The landmark ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZ)
also now allows for 95% of Australian products to enter the Philippines
duty free while 97% of Philippine-made products can enter Australia with
the same benefit.

An increased popularity of Australian products is also seen due to the
recent fall of the Aussie dollar.

“It’s basically a 20% price reduction in 3 months,” Weymouth said.

About 15,000 Australians currently reside in the Philippines while about
250,000 Filipinos now call Australia home, Weymouth shared.

Increased investment

Other Australian firms, meanwhile, praised the government efforts to
improve the overall environment in doing business in the country.

“We see a country that is really getting its act together,” James Young,
country director for Cardno, said. Cardno, a professional infrastructure
and environmental services company is involved in some of the important
public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects planned for the
next few years.

Michael Banak, director of Crone Partners, an architectural firm,
confirmed that it is looking for a partner to set up a permanent base in
the country.

The firm has been in the Philippines since 2006 and is notable for
designing Arya Residences, the country’s first residential building
receiving the “green” certifications of Building for Ecologically
Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) and Leadership in Energy &
Environmental Design (LEED). Crone Partners is also designing a 20
hectare master-planned project.

Meanwhile, Sight Skills based in Clark, Pampanga, is providing training
services for construction, gas, mining, and oil. The company is behind
Asia’s only simulated underground mine and an offshore platform which it
uses to train workers involved in the Malampaya deep water gas-to-power
project.

Telstra, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, is also among
locators that employs the highest number of Filipinos in the industry.

Mining a ‘missed opportunity’

When asked about the problems Australian firms face in the country,
Weymouth singled out mining as a great “missed opportunity,” saying with
significant investment in mining the Philippines could achieve an 8% or
9% gross domestic product (GDP) growth instead of 6%.

The Philippines is one of the most mineral-rich country in the world,
but only about 2% of the resources are being extracted, Weymouth said.
On the other hand, mining is a significant industry and major
contributor to the Australia economy.

“The bottom line is that there are mining projects in places like
Mindanao that have the potential for billions of dollars in investment
that can raise the GDP by 2% for the next 40 years,” Weymouth said.

The trade commissioner added that Australia would like to see the issues
addressed, as it is a big challenge facing Australian mining firms.

Australian mining firm Indophil Resources has a significant stake in the
controversial Tampakan project.

The firm is set to be taken over by local firm Alson. – Rappler.com

(AU$1 = US$0.80)

Andy Whitmore (Whit)
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)
Coordinator
Finspace, 225-229 Seven Sisters Road, London, N4 2DA
Ph: +44 (0)775 439 5597
Email: comms@piplinks.org
Web: http://www.piplinks.org
Skype: mantissa88

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the
intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell