Migrante Australia condemns the indiscriminate aerial bombings and military offensives conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) against anti-mining communities in the provinces of Batangas and Nueva Vizcaya. We decry the utter disregard for human rights, the displacement and the endangerment of lives in these communities. These military operations in Batangas and Nueva Vizcaya targeted communities known to have opposed large-scale mining projects by Canadian companies MRL Gold and Egerton Gold, both affiliated with Australian miner Red Mountain Mining and the mining exploration activities of Australian company Royalco and the expansion attempts of Australian mining transnational corporation Oceana Gold.
There is no doubt whose interests the Duterte regime is protecting, whose privileges it is safe guarding. In this instance, it is at the expense of indigenous peoples, peasant farmers and poor communities over the interests of extractive and destructive companies such as the Australian mining corporation Oceana Gold in Nueva Vizcaya and affiliates of Australian miner Red Mountain Mining in Batangas. There is also no doubt that these operations are part of the triple wars the Duterte regime is waging against the Filipino people. His war on drugs, the war against the Maute terrorists, the war against the left – are all excuses to eradicate opposition, snuff militant actions, instil fear, deepen oppression and protect the interest of the elite in the Philippines conniving with big foreign corporations and the mining industry.
All peace-loving Australians must know that the Turnbull government extended significant help to the Duterte regime in recent months by sending spy planes and training Filipino soldiers in urban warfare purportedly to fight against the Maute IS terrorist group and to quell the threat of terrorism in the region. Australia’s support have contributed to the displacement of thousands of people, is indirectly supporting the continuing attack on indigenous peoples (lumads) of Mindanao and is justifying the state of Martial Law in Mindanao. In return, the Duterte regime is uncompromising in its support of Australian economic interests in the Philippines even if it means violating the human rights of the Filipino people.
We demand for the removal of big mines and other destructive projects away from these communities. We demand for the pull-out of state armed forces from the communities their land from corporations and other land grabbers. We demand that the perpetrators as well as the mining companies be held responsible and the victims and affected communities be compensated. We also assert that it is only by addressing the socio-economic injustice roots of armed conflict can a genuine and lasting peace be achieved in the Philippines.
Stop aerial bombings in Batangas and Nueva Vizcaya! Australian mining operations out of Nueva Vizcaya now!
2 October 2017