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12 Apr 2021

Philippines: UN intervention in dispute with mining company deterred reprisals against defenders, says environmental activist; incl. co. response

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The 2021 report from International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) declared that human rights defenders are essential workers. The report also included stories of human rights defenders and their communities. One of them, Leon Dulce, is the National Coordinator for Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, an organisation that prevents environmental exploitation and protects marginalised communities from harm in the Philippines. Leon narrated local indigenous Ifugao indigenous community's campaign to close down the 10,266-hectare Didipio gold-copper mine of AustralianCanadian corporation Oceanagold:

We believe the intervention from the UN experts was a significant factor in making the Duterte government think twice before railroading the then impending renewal of Oceanagold’s contract agreement. The UN communication helped create the momentum that led to the provincial government issuing a restraining order against the Oceanagold mine, and inspired the community organisations to launch a people’s barricade enforcing this restraint through direct action.

According to Leon, the UN intervention fed into the direct action of organised communities of defenders, and exposed the national government’s collaboration with irresponsible big businesses, discouraged their usual ‘rubber-stamping’ for these mining corporations, and deterred full-on reprisals against the defenders.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre had invited OceanaGold to respond to the allegations about the operations of the Didipio mine. The company's full response is linked below.