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December 2, 2004

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CPA warns of more protest with Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Mining Act

The Supreme Court decision has sealed the unresolved issues in favor of corporate mining in the country in spite of the valid and legitimate concerns raised by communities, activists, environmentalists and other groups. This is a big drawback in the struggle against corporate take over of the peoples’ resources for profit, rather than the peoples’ economic development.”

This was the declaration of Joan Carling, chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, over the Supreme Court’s reversal of its earlier stand on the Mining Act of 1995. Earlier, the High Court declared the Mining Law as unconstitutional as it allows 100 % foreign ownership and control of mining activities in the country, contrary to provisions of the Constitution.

According to Carling, the SC’s reversal dangerously opened the gate for a total control of foreign investors and corporations not just over people’s mineral resources but to the country’s whole natural resources as well. This is a mockery of the people’s control over their patrimony and a clear violation of the rights of indigenous peoples over their land and resources. The High Court said that it cannot interfere in the exercise of the presidential power of control over the exploration, development and utilization of our natural resources. Since the President is desperate for foreign investment, it will certainly use this power for the total sell out of the people’s resources in the guise of solving the economic crisis.

The reason is economic

The government started to push for a revitalization of the mining industry as a solution to the raging fiscal crisis that the country is experiencing.

Carling explains that in this SC decision, it is very clear that the same reason applies as to why the ruling has been reversed. “We have said this before that revitalization of the mining industry in the hands of multinational mining companies with no public accountability and whose main objective is to rake in super profits, is a wrong solution to the crisis. As experience has shown, corporate mining has not lead to economic development. Instead, it has resulted to more environmental catastrophes, destruction of sustainable livelihood sources of millions of farmers and massive accidents and risks to workers and affected communities.” Carling added that foreign investments has been a major source of graft and corruption which is a major reason for the financial crisis.

“We have now become hostage to massive foreign investment for the exploitation of our resources because the government has messed up our economy and caused the financial crisis to which we are again made to sacrifice, while graft and corruption remains unabated. It is highly deplorable that foreign investment is given premium over the protection of the environment and the peoples’ rights and welfare. As a result, the country will become even more dependent on foreign investments and dictates, instead of building our own industries for the needs of the people” Carling added.

Definitely, only foreign investors and its cohorts in government and local mining companies are the ones rejoicing over the reversal of the Supreme Court’s earlier decision.

Cordillera as one of the priority areas

Cordillera is one of the mineral-rich areas in the country and has been hosting corporate mining for a century already. Yet, the primary beneficiaries are the mining companies who have generated super-profits, while remaining unaccountable for the numerous disasters they have caused, and unanswerable to the rehabilitation of mined-out areas. Instead of addressing these issues, the government will surely encourage the reactivation of mining applications for Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) by giant multinational companies. In the past, The NewMont Mining Company had at least 14 applications covering all Cordillera provinces, with a total land area of almost 1 million hectares. Other multinational mining companies with mining applications in the Cordillera include Anglo American Pty Limited and Oxiana. These companies have questionable records on environmental protection and accountability to host communities and to their workers. Any FTTA approval in the Cordillera will surely lead to more conflicts because it will be met by the people’s raging protests.

Certainly, the battle will now be on the ground while we shall continue to seek legal remedies and avenues for the protection of the peoples patrimony. Mining Companies will face stiff opposition by indigenous communities who have the inherent right over their land and resources.

“We shall not allow the destruction of our land by profit-hungry corporations. We vow to defend our land and assert our collective rights in all avenues and forms of struggle. This is the time to be more vigilant and to act in unison to save the future of our children and the patrimony of the people” concluded Carling.# CPA Public Information Commission

Published with financial contribution from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
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