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The State of Extraction: Dr. Claver Focuses on the Philippines

By Erie Maestro
April 26, 2015


The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 opened up the Philippine mining industry to the fullest level of control by foreign investment companies – from the free and unimpeded flow of raw materials from the Philippines to the First World countries, to very favourable business and corporate tax incentives, and the government training and support for the paramilitary forces funded by mining companies to provide security and protection for mining companies.

Dr. Claver, a physician from the Igorot tribe in the Cordillera, shared the indigenous perspective on the issue, a way of thinking diametrically opposite with that of the governments and corporations involved. “To the indigenous peoples, it is not just an issue of having a green environment and a nice, clean surrounding. It involves the more serious matter of life. The world view of indigenous peoples takes everything in this earth as integral to life itself.”

He continued: “The waters, the sky, the land, the minerals, the trees, the animals, and the people on the surface of this earth all interact in order to maintain life. These components cannot be taken separate from each other. They are all parts of one—without one, life is threatened. Experience has shown that mining firms only pay attention to the trees, the water and the people only for as long as it ensures their continued profitable operations.”

The rape and pillage of the environment as well as the campaign of abductions, arrests, and assassinations of critics, environmentalists and indigenous activists have only resulted in the defense and protection of the environment and the indigenous communities by the indigenous peoples themselves.

“We believe that the struggle in the Philippines is the same as the struggle of other indigenous peoples in any other land. We believe that we face the same foes,” Dr. Claver declared to the conference attendees. “The face of the mining company you have to contend with here is the same ugly face we have to deal with in my homeland. If we do not unite and band together, I believe that we, as indigenous peoples, shall die and fall on the wayside, one separate people at a time.”

Dr. Claver is the Chair of Bayan Canada, an alliance of progressive Filipino organizations in Canada, a member of Migrante BC, the grassroots organization of Filipino migrants and immigrants and of the Victoria-Philippines Solidarity Group for human rights in the Philippines. Because of his outspoken political activities, he and his family were targeted in an assassination attempt by government and military agents in the Philippines.

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