Amnesty International Philippines
Amnesty says DENR actions that disempower indigenous peoples must end now
Amnesty International Philippines is deeply concerned about the plight of 25 individuals, mostly Mangyans, from Mindoro, Southern Tagalog who are on hunger strike in front of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) national office. They are demanding that DENR revoke the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC)issued for the 11, 200 hectare Mindoro Nickel Project of Intex Resources, a Norwegian mining company. The IP communities were not consulted regarding the project before the ECC was issued despite the existing 25-year moratorium on large-scale mining passed by the provincial government of Mindoro Oriental and the fact that the area for mining includes a watershed.
“Actions of government that deprive the indigenous peoples of information about the mining project and decisions that are made without the participation of the peoples are definitely wrong and unacceptable. These actions of government that violate the rights of peoples to information and to partake in decisions affecting their lives must be rejected. Indigenous peoples in remote communities deserve the same respect and have equal rights as any human being living on this earth , “ declared Dr. Aurora Corazon Parong, Section Director of Amnesty International Philippines.
Amnesty International asserts that the human rights of indigenous peoples must not be traded-off for economic growth and alleged benefits from the mining project. It was reported that the DENR issued the ECC without waiting for the recommendation of the EIA-Review Committee which in fact recommended the denial of the ECC because there was no public consultation with the stakeholders directly affected; 4 of the 6 components of the mining project have no baseline data, particularly on terrestrial flora and fauna; and there was no proper project area delineation.
“Government attitudes and actions which disempower already marginalized community must end now. It is in direct violation of the Philippines’ international obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to which it is a signatory.” explained Parong.
“The plight of indigenous peoples traveling from their homes to national offices of government agencies located in the National Capital Region to voice out their opposition to unjust government actions affecting their lives is not new. We recall that the Sumilao farmers did the same hunger strike and marched from Mindanao to Manila so that their voices will be heard by a government agency that was supposed to protect their interest but failed.” Added Dr. Aurora Parong.
Amnesty International Philippines calls for a new approach, grounded in the genuine respect for traditional culture and with human rights principles at its core, to tackle the complex problem on ancestral domains and mining projects.
“We call on the Philippine government, not just NCIP and DENR, to develop an integrated approach that places all human rights – not merely some human rights - at the center and which ensures that all human rights are respected and exercised by all marginalized communities – people living in poverty especially the indigenous peoples.” added Parong
Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity campaign aims to mobilize people all over the world to demand that governments, big corporations and others who have power must listen to the voices of the marginalized communities especially those living in poverty in order that their rights are recognized and protected.
“Respect for indigenous peoples rights and dignity entail that their voices must be heard. The principle of equality of rights cannot be compromised. Active participation of everyone involved for immediate and long term solutions to problems must be made locally and nationally.” concluded Parong.