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CHR recommends withdrawal of mining company’s contract

Posted By: Chris Costuya On:


CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Feb. 13, 2011—The Commission on Human Rights en banc has recommended the “probable withdrawal” of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) the government signed with Australian mining company OceanaGold Philippines, Inc.over gross human rights violations in the mining firm’s concession in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.

The FTAA is a contract between the Philippine government and mining companies on large-scale exploration and development of minerals that allows up to 100-percent foreign ownership in a mining project.

The recommendation for the “probable withdrawal of the FTAA granted to the foreign company in view of the gross violations of human rights it has committed” is number one of five recommended actions the Aquino administration should take against OceanaGold.

The other actions CHR recommended to the Aquino administration to take are (2) request all concerned agencies, particularly the NCIP, the DENR-MGB, the PNP and the AFP, to submit reports to the Commission on Human Rights regarding concrete actions they have taken to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of the affected community in Didipio, within 30 days from receipt of this Resolution; (3) request the same agencies to continue monitoring the Human Rights situation in Didipio with the view in mind that all reports of violations be verified and acted upon; (4) advise OceanaGold to consider the Commission’s findings and conduct a policy reorientation on the conduct of
mining operation taking into conscious account the observance of human rights of
the community involved; and (5) direct the CHR Region II Office to actively
advocate for the Human Rights of the affected community and to take every step
possible to avoid the occurrence of further violence and oppression.

But Oceana Chief Executive Officer Mick Wilkes, in a statement, insisted that “it has met and is committed to continuing to meet the human rights of the local community” in its mining site.

As to CHR’s findings that OceanaGold had violated the Right to Residence, the Right to Adequate Housing and Property Rights of several residents in Didipio; the Right to Freedom of Movement and the Right not to be subjected to arbitrary interference; the Right to Security of Person of the people in Didipio; the indigenous community’s Right to Manifest their Culture and Identity, Wilkes simply said: “The company is compliant with all the laws and regulations associated with operating as a foreign company in the
Philippines and is committed to ethical, responsible and sustainable mineral
development.”

The Didipio mine, with a reserve life of 20 years, holds 1.41 million ounces of gold and 169,400 tons of copper, based on a report released last year by OceanaGold, Australia’s fourth-largest listed gold miner.

OceanaGold planned to start operations at the project in Nueva Vizcaya in 2013. It is due to restart construction work this year, with the initial cost estimated at US$140 million over four to five years.

The Philippine government sees mining as a sector with great potential to attract foreign investors and generate jobs. (Bong D. Fabe)


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