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Group presses Canada for
mining justice in the Philippines

Subanen leader, Nenita Condez and Congressman Carlos Zarate during interview with Lito Taruc on CKJS Radio's Good Morning Philippines show, March 29, 2017. Photo by Diwa Marcelino

WINNIPEG – A delegation from the Philippines was in Winnipeg this past week (March 29 – 30) to raise awareness about Canadian mining and social justice in Mindanao. The two-day visit is part of a cross-Canada tour sponsored by KAIROS, a faith-based social justice organization of ten Canadian churches and religious organizations.

The delegation aims to make the overseas operations of Canada’s mining sector open for justice and ensure that Canada plays a leadership role in the Philippines’ peace process. The delegates, all from the heavily mined Philippine island of Mindanao, include: Representative Carlos Zarate, a Member of Philippine Congress and Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources; Bishop Antonio Ablon, Anglican Church/IFI, Zamboanga del Sur; Dr. Anie Bautista, National Coordinator, Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice); Nenita Andes Condez and Eufemia Campos Cullamat, Lumad women leaders.

The delegates shared first-hand accounts of human rights violations in the context of mining projects in the Philippines, including Canadian-owned operations. They have joined KAIROS and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability in calling on the Government of Canada to appoint an extractive-sector ombudsperson to monitor Canadian mining operations overseas, and to facilitate access to the Canadian courts for non-nationals who have been harmed by the international operation of Canadian companies.

People claiming harm from mining activities in the Philippines face a corrupt and inaccessible judicial system and fear reprisal from security forces and paramilitary groups.

According to Bishop Ablon, national security policies implemented by the Philippine government to protect foreign investments and large-scale development projects are contributing to increased poverty and conflict, and having a negative impact on the rights of Filipinos.

“Members of resource rich communities in Mindanao are being driven from their lands and from their sources of food and livelihoods into situations of hunger and poverty. People’s rights are being violated and some people who choose to stand their ground are being killed,” says Bishop Ablon.

In 2014, KAIROS Canada’s Philippine Learning Tour visited communities in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur on Mindanao to gather information on the operations of the Philippine subsidiary of Calgary based TVI Pacific, Inc. They then called on the Philippine government to investigate all claims of human rights abuses and to cease all mining operations until the safety of the local people could be assured.

While in Winnipeg, members of the delegation were interviewed on CKJS Radio’s Good Morning Philippines program and held information events elsewhere in the city. Their tour also made stops in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal.

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