Accountability for Canadian Corporations Operating in the Philippines

Accountability for Canadian Corporations Operating in the Philippines

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International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines - Canada started this petition to Parliament of Canada

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ICHRP-Canada and MiningWatch Canada initiated this petition because of our concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines since 2016. In response to increasing attacks on civilians and human rights defenders, we seek to ensure that: Canadian companies operating abroad can be held accountable in Canada for their role in human rights violations overseas; Canadian consular staff are mandated to protect human rights defenders threatened because of their peaceful actions in response to Canadian companies operating overseas; and that the Canadian government is held accountable for its financial and political support both to Canadian companies operating overseas and to government’s that are implicated in the abuse of human rights in their countries.

The petition exposes gaps in accountability for Canadian mining companies operating overseas, and highlights the problems of corporations operating in tyrannical political situations such as the Philippines.  A key call of the petition is for a Parliamentary hearing on the Human Rights situation in the Philippines, part of our overall strategy to expose and isolate the Duterte government diplomatically. 

We are also concerned about Canadian companies operating in countries where gross human rights violations are occurring, in particular Canadian mining companies operating in the Philippines.[1] On April 6, 2020, some 100 Philippine National Police violently dispersed 29 primarily indigenous Ifugao residents maintaining Didipio’s peaceful People’s Barricade, which was authorized by municipal and provincial governments on July 1, 2019. Rolando Pulido was beaten and arrested; others were wounded.[2]  This event was triggered when a Canadian corporation, OceanaGold, sought to have three fuel trucks run the blockade to maintain basic operations at the Didipio mine. The Didipio mine, situated in Nueva Vizcaya, started operations in 2013, but its permit expired in June 2019 and has not been renewed. With the support of municipal and provincial governments, local citizens and communities oppose the renewal of the permit due to mining-related human rights abuses, environmental degradation, and negative impacts on local livelihoods.[3]

Finally, we are concerned about the lack of effective support by Canadian consular staff for human rights and environmental defenders threatened because of their efforts to protect rights in the context of overseas operations of Canadian companies and the lack of effective accountability mechanisms in Canada to hold Canadian companies accountable when they have caused or contributed to human rights abuses overseas. When Didipio villagers met with staff at the Canadian Embassy in Manila in 2018, after having been “red tagged” because of their opposition to human rights and environmental impacts caused by OceanaGold’s operations, they did not receive the protection they requested, in spite of the known threat they faced as red-tagged rights defenders.

[1] The recently released Global Witness report finds that mining was the deadliest sector with 50 rights defenders killed in 2019 in the context of conflicts related to mining.  
[2] 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.
[3] For more on the history of 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. 

We call upon the House of Commons to:
1. Make the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) independent and empowered to compel evidence and witness testimony under oath. The government of Canada committed to grant the CORE these necessary investigatory powers, but subsequently reneged on this commitment;
2. Enact a human rights due diligence law that compels businesses to respect international human rights. Such a law would have both preventative effect, as well as providing a cause of action for legal recourse in Canada for those who have been harmed by the actions of Canadian companies operating overseas;
3. Hold hearings on the human rights situation in the Philippines in the Parliamentary Human
Rights Sub-committee during the current session of Parliament;
4. End Canadian support to the Government of the Philippines including socio-economic and
financial programming, tactical, logistical and training support, military sales and defence
5. Mandate Canadian consular personnel to protect human rights defenders. Whereas Canadian embassy staff are currently mandated to promote and protect the interests of Canadian companies operating overseas, they are not mandated to protect human rights defenders whose lives are threatened because of their criticism of the impacts on rights and the environment caused by these companies.  

We need 4,000 signatures of Canadian Citizens by December 31, 2020 to advance the petition to Parliament.


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