A petition calling on the Canadian Government to act in response to increasing extrajudicial killings of civilians and human rights defenders in the Philippines will be tabled by the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona, Heather McPherson, in the House of Commons on February 25, 2021, at 10:00 A.M. EST. Viewers can watch Ms. McPherson Heather table the petition on “House of Commons proceedings Live at 10” on CPAC. She will hold an online press conference following the tabling of the petition (details below). Canada is implicated in the rights abuses through military aid to the Philippines and through the role that Canadian mining companies play in the country. “The Philippines is now one of the two most dangerous countries for defenders of human and environmental rights according to Global Witness,” said Patricia Lisson of ICHRP-Canada (International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-Canada). “In 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report highlighting severe human rights violations, reinforced by harmful rhetoric from high-level officials against human rights organizations, lawyers, political, judicial actors, journalists, trade unionists, and religious groups,” she added.
Community members from Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, accuse Canadian OceanaGold’s copper-gold project of serious human rights and environmental abuses. “In 2018, local indigenous people, who have peacefully opposed the mine for years, were falsely accused of sedition, making them targets for extrajudicial killings,” said Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. “In 2020, police used violent dispersals of a peaceful and authorized blockade of the mine, even though it has had no permit to operate since June of 2019.”
Even as the Philippines’ human rights situation has steadily deteriorated, Canada has continued to provide military aid. “Given the grave human rights situation in the Philippines, Canada should not be selling the country military equipment and providing defence cooperation,” said Lisson. “Canada should add the Philippines to its list of countries that it will not export military goods and technology.”
Canada falls short in protecting Philippine human rights defenders both at the consular level in the Philippines and through its lack of corporate accountability mechanisms at home. “When some of the villagers were falsely accused, facing threats of extrajudicial killing because of their opposition to OceanaGold, and sought assistance from the Canadian embassy in Manila, their requests were not addressed,” said Coumans.
Coumans added, “At the same time, we still do not have an Ombudsperson in Canada who has the necessary investigatory powers to compel witnesses and documents to address complaints against Canadian mining companies.”
MiningWatch Canada and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada) launched a Parliamentary Petition in 2020 to address these human rights concerns. The petition garnered over 1000 signatures from concerned Canadians.
A press conference will follow the tabling of the petition.
Where: Ottawa, Canada (online)
Meeting ID: 895 6905 4602 – Passcode: 105533
When: February 25, 10:30 A.M. EST
Heather McPherson, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona
Cristina Palabay, General Secretary, Karapatan (Philippines)
Bern Jagunos, ICHRP-Canada
Catherine Coumans, Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Moderator: Patricia Lisson, Chair, ICHRP-Canada
For more information contact:
Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org
Patricia Lisson, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada), email@example.com
For background information, see:
Background brief to the electronic petition
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. June 15-3 July 2020. Situation of human rights in the Philippines: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Global Witness report of 2020 citing over half of all reported killings of rights defenders occurred in just two countries, the Philippines and Colombia, and mining was the deadliest sector with 50 defenders killed in 2019
For more on mining-related human and environmental abuses, see MiningWatch Canada and Institute for Policy Studies. OceanaGold in the Philippines: Ten Violations that Should Prompt Its Removal. October 2018
For more on the violent dispersal of a peaceful and authorized blockade to accommodate OceanaGold, see: Global Civil Society Organizations Condemn Violent Dispersal of Indigenous Peoples’ Mining Barricade in the Philippines.
For more on the 2018 targeting of Didipio indigenous villagers and their meeting with Canadian consular staff in Manila, see: Indigenous Rights Defenders Targeted Over Opposition to OceanaGold Mine, Seek Support from Canadian Embassy in the Philippines.