Session 7

Session 7

Communities and Mining: The Politics of Environmental Injustice in the Philippines
Rodne Galicha
Coordinator Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment, Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE) / Sibuyanons Against Mining (SAM)

Mining has been one of the top priorities of the Philippine government to further economic growth. In the latest decision of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995, it now allows one hundred percent ownership of foreign companies to operate, thus the attraction of more investments. However, the mining act if scrutinized carefully has a lot more provisions that benefit the companies rather than the communities.
Despite this economic push through this extractive industry, communities affected resist because their voices are never heard and their rights not respected. History has it that no mining community becomes progressive—the poor remains poor or even become poorer; and the rich and investors become richer. The benefits of mining cannot outweigh the destruction it brings.
The paper analyses the role of communities such as the indigenous peoples in decision-making and their inherent and constitutional rights to do so. Such will lead to the non-compartmentalized culture of the Filipinos which says that all things are connected—that the environment is part of their lives and the land for them is life. In adhering to their culture and rights, their opposition brings them to certain conflicts with the government which may lead even to death.
Though the law says that the communities have to be consulted first, the politics of corruption and influence enter. The conflict begins when government officials say ‘yes’ to the project and the communities oppose. Since mining is a flagship program of the government, militarization begins. Recently, a government order was made and strengthened directing the military to train and manage security personnel of mining companies. Thus, the paper scrutinizes the connivance of the government with mining companies through the divide and conquer scheme.
To validate all these, four case studies of controversial sites shall be presented: Nueva Vizcaya, Sibuyan Island, Zamboanga del Norte, and Marinduque. All boils down to seeking environmental justice: land tenure and security, sanctity of creation and tradition, biodiversity conservation and sustainability and accountability. Upon seeking environmental justice, the following are encountered: human rights violation and environmental destruction. In conclusion, generally, looking carefully at these issues, the very cause of conflict is greed—selfishness being brought about by the culture of politics in the Philippines sacrificing human rights and environment in the name of false development through a business called mining.
For Filipino indigenous communities, environment and culture is one

From Margins to Margins: Cultural Integrity, Ecological Survival and Future Transcripts in the Historical Home-Based Health Narratives of Nova Scotia and West Virginia
Deborah Stiles
Associate Professor, Humanities, Rural Research Centre, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Canada

In the 19th century, “industrialization, urbanization, and im/migration” helped birth a 20th century modernity with which most of North America grappled. The pivotal word here, though, is “most”:  for while most of North America modernized, Atlantic Canada and Appalachia became identified in this same period as “backward” and “underdeveloped.” These regions’ persistent rurality, the exploitation of their eco-systems as resources “colonies,” and even their geo-political placement at the margins meant that, for most of the period under scrutiny in this inquiry, Appalachia and Atlantic Canada were more associated with “anti-modern” than “modern.” Both regions have been identified with unhealthy populations, ravaged landscapes, and vulnerable economies, even as both have been marketed to tourists for their natural beauty/quaint inhabitants.
Historians, geographers and others have utilized numerous theoretical frameworks and evidence to explain the existence of “underdevelopment” and unhealthy populations in Atlantic Canada and Appalachia. An exploration of 20th century sources yields a more complex view. As the world comes to grip with environmental limits elsewhere and everywhere, transcripts for an environmentally sound and more healthy future may be found in the narratives of those who have been at the (perceived) margins before. This paper, using the tools of the herb gatherer, cook, literary/cultural critic, and historian, examines comparatively the lessons of cultural integrity and ecological survival found in the oral history narratives of rural Nova Scotia and West Virginia women.

Download Draft Conference Paper – pdf