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Protesters storm mining conference

Demonstrators block hotel as delegates gather

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • September 19, 2012
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Hundreds of environmental activists, indigenous peoples and church workers stormed a conference sponsored by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines today.

The protesters blocked the entrances of the hotel where the conference was held and staged a noise barrage outside.

"We will only witness the farce of these so-called responsible mining companies... [that will] present their so-called state-of-the-art technologies and hazard-proof mining operations," said Clemente Bautista of the activist group Defend Patrimony.

The "Mining Philippines 2012 Conference" is an annual event organized by the Chamber of Mines and the government's Mines and Geosciences Bureau, to showcase "responsible mining" projects.

Bautista said the protest action was the first of a series of activities by the People’s Caucus on the Mining Executive Order, a coalition of groups that call for the passage of a "pro-people and pro-environment" mining policy.

"This mining conference is proof ... it is business as usual for large mining companies presently operating in our country," said Kakay Tolentino, spokesperson of the indigenous peoples group Katribu.

The Chamber of Mines, meanwhile, announced mining companies are out to challenge the government in court over a “patently illegal” provision in a government order limiting mining operations in the country.

Benjamin Philip Romualdez, Chamber of Mines president, said mining companies are already "preparing legal action against the government."

President Benigno Aquino earlier issued an order that gives the government the right to renegotiate the terms of mining contracts after 25 years.

The provision would shorten the potential project period from the existing maximum period of 50 years.

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