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Women do the #MannequinChallenge – call to end destructive mining.

Women do the #MannequinChallenge – call to end destructive mining.

Manila - “Kalikasan, Kabuhayan, Karapatan, Kinabukasan” – these were the words elaborately painted on the bodies of six women who stood still in middle of Sofitel’s lobby on Tuesday (September 10). The women from Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) Women and Mining Working Group expressed their protests with body paint covering their bodies and performed the #MannequinChallenge at the opening of the Mining Philippines International Conference and Exhibit in the hotel.

The conference and exhibit by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) are an annual event as a dialogue to discuss mining and extractives in the Philippines. Its main purpose, however, is to attract investors in the mining and extractives business, and this year’s theme seemed to have made this agenda more obvious. “Riding the Wave: Capitalizing on Opportunities”, a statement that promises wealth to those who can willingly exploit the country’s natural resources.

Members of the ATM Women and Mining Working Group, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous People’s Rights), Oriang, and the National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) have consistently exposed the displacement and violence against rural and indigenous women brought by large-scale mining.

“Mining is a women’s issue,” said Judy Pasimio, coordinator of Lilak. “It is an issue mostly affecting rural and indigenous women – an issue of violence and marginalization,” she added.

“Women are the most vulnerable when it comes to mining. Mining destroys livelihoods. And women not only feed themselves, they feed their whole families,” said Oriang Secretary-General Oyette Zacate.

Marjorie Barrientos and Amarizal Mabanan of the Maporac Aetas Organization want mining corporations off their lands, “These are our ancestral domains. We have the right to protect it and defend it.”

PKKK Over-all Coordinator Amparo Miciano-Sykioco called for the unity of women now more than ever, “Amid land grabbing, destruction of environment, and human rights violations, women should be stronger and more united than ever. We should be at the forefront of protecting our rights, our environment, our livelihood, and our future.”

The ATM Women and Mining Working Group called a stop to large-scale mining in the Philippines, and the issuance of an executive order to ban open-pit mining. They also insisted on the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and enactment of the Alternative Mineral Management Bill (AMMB). A moratorium on large-scale mining operations in the country was also demanded. The other demands of the women’s group included the protection and preservation of the environment, access and control of indigenous peoples totheir lands and respect for their culture, protection of people’s livelihood, and ensuring the children’s future.

The non-violent action of the women’s group is part of the week-long solidarity actions of anti-mining groups all across the country. A main demand of ATM is the non-renewal of the mining contract of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI), owners of the Didipio Gold Mining Project in Nueva Vizcaya.

According to a media articles, the CoMP’s conference is a venue to discuss the country’s mineral resource development issues, challenges, and opportunities. It stated that the conference sends invitations to local government units, private sectors, academe, mining host communities, and indigenous peoples to join the progressive discussion on mining. This year, women took a stand. Amid their silence, their call was loud and clear – END LARGE-SCALE MINING in the Philippines.

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