Invitation: Indigenous Peoples and the World Trade Organization series of activities in Bali, Indonesia on December 2-6, 2013

The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Indigenous Peoples: Resisting Globalization, Asserting Self-Determination

The WTO is the primary instrument of neoliberal globalization to further economic globalization especially in international trade. It aims to build a unitary system of trade relations of countries around the world governed by various agreements. Using catchphrases of a “borderless world” and “leveling the playing field,” it has imposed the removing of restrictions or so-called trade barriers that get in the way of greater corporate profit. Contrary to “free trade” and similar lies and myth, the WTO serves the primary interest and control of monopoly capital and the few advanced capitalist countries over the global economy.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) formally established the WTO in 1995 through the Final Act of the Uruguay Round of negotiations. The GATT together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) were bodies established in 1948 after World War II at the Bretton Woods. These three while appear separate actually work-in-tandem or inter-lock in effecting global free trade.

Capitalist countries led by the United States control the GATT, IMF and WB. The IMF and WB provide loans in the name of national progress to poor and developing countries but imposing Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) that provides liberalization, deregulation and privatization as prior conditions for granting loans and debt reductions. The GATT and WTO, and regional trade initiatives such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with their related multilateral agreements bind countries to implement these neoliberal policies.

The WTO currently governs 159 member States that are obliged upon entry to implement these multilateral agreements even if detrimental to their own economy and harm its citizens. Non-compliance shall mean sanctions that its Dispute Settlement Body decides in closed-door proceedings.

This December 3-6, 2013, the World Trade Organization (WTO) shall convene its ninth Ministerial Meeting (MC 9) in Bali, Indonesia. The Ministerial Meeting is the highest decision-making body of the WTO and usually meets every two years. The last was in Geneva on 2011. It can make decisions on any of the multilateral trade related agreements such as the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and forge new multilateral agreements.

In Bali, we expect the MC 9 to push for greater liberalization in agriculture, acceleration of least-developed countries (LDC) in the WTO, and expediting trade facilitation through restructuring of GATT articles on imports-exports and trade costs. At the same time, it shall attempt to mask the mal-development wrought by the WTO.

The Peoples’ Global Camp (PGC) against Globalization – a series and weeklong activities coinciding with the ninth Ministerial Meeting in Bali, Indonesia – shall unmask the WTO by exposing the ill effects and destruction due to globalization. As in previous rounds of GATT negotiations and ministerial meetings, it shall reiterate its position of Junk WTO and call for NO New Deals.

WTO and Indigenous Peoples

Majority or 95% of the world’s indigenous are in Asia and Latin America, largely are peasants who face the brunt of globalization.

Indigenous lands, territories, resources, and waters are rich in natural resources and biodiversity. Reportedly, the remaining resources worldwide – valuable and essential to the survival of all – are in indigenous territories. However, from colonization to this era of globalization, these have been valuable targets as commodities. Thus, we expect further resource extraction and plunder of indigenous peoples’ territories through mining, energy, mono-crop-commercial plantations, and logging, including theft and commercialization of traditional knowledge and genetic information, indigenous culture, sacred artifacts, heirlooms, and the like.  The commoditization of nature and Mother Earth bounds to worsen as WTO impose more agreements. The multiple crises – economic, political, environmental and climatic – we face today become unprecedented resulting in more violations of our collective rights as indigenous peoples.

On international trade, the removal of tariffs and quantitative restrictions on import goods led to the influx of foreign products in domestic markets. The AoA allowed the importation of agricultural crops even if locally produced. Adding further damage, the WTO likewise demand reduction of State subsidies on price support, seeds and fertilizer costs while advanced capitalist countries consistently refuse to apply this in their own economies. This has damaged livelihoods resulting in bankruptcy of farmers including indigenous peoples, as they are unable to compete with subsidized and cheaper harvests from abroad. The AoA pushes for commercial agricultural production wherein it replaces indigenous or traditional plant varieties with genetically altered species marketed by agriculture companies, and chemical laden foods, detrimental to food security, health and sustainability. Such trading will foster dependency of indigenous communities to outside capitalist market and in the process breaks their ability to assert their political rights, self-determined development, and food sovereignty. The AoA further conscripts the ability of indigenous peoples to produce culturally appropriate food, grow their own food of their choice and quantity in their own land.

Intellectual property rights are not exempt from globalization. Big pharmaceutical corporations, race for patents to gain exclusive control for the production, marketing, distribution and sales of products derived from indigenous knowledge and practice. Indigenous peoples might not even be aware that corporations pirated and earn profit from the knowledge they hold and share in common such as the medicinal uses of plants.  The WTO alarmingly allows the patenting of life forms including extraction of genetic information under its TRIPS. The relatively isolation of indigenous peoples makes them valuable targets for medical research and experiments. Reportedly, Boehringer Ingelheim a German pharmaceutical company bought for $70 million the biotechnology rights of blood samples collected from the indigenous peoples of Trista de Cunha, South Atlantic because of its potential for asthma treatments.

States enact, amend or repeal protective legislations on national industries, agriculture, and services that bar “free trade.” It legalizes liberalization, deregulation and privatization in compliance with WTO agreements and obligations. It undermines indigenous peoples’ rightful control and management of their productive land and resources.  In the Philippines, the enactment of the Mining Act of 1995 totally liberalized the mining industry and offered the country’s mineral resources and ancestral lands for plunder by big foreign mining companies. Laws and policies that deregulated the oil industry and privatized basic services and public assets have greater impacts on indigenous peoples who have been historically marginalized, impoverished, and neglected by the State.

The WTO has expanded even to include health and education services that further discriminate and worsen government neglect of indigenous peoples, and lessening our access to vital social services.

In addition, States and governments in collusion with corporations allow State security forces and arm civilians by creating paramilitary forces that impose the implementation of these multilateral agreements, and facilitate and protect the above extractions. Indigenous communities are highly militarized and we attest of escalating violation of our individual and collective rights, destruction of our indigenous life ways. Many of us are alienated from our lands with forced dislocation and evacuation as governments implement destructive projects without our free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

The WTO violates indigenous peoples’ ownership, control, access and benefit of natural resources, indigenous knowledge, information and culture. Thus, it is for us to forward, assert, and engage.

We have seen in this decade great victories for indigenous peoples in our participation in international processes with the signing of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007, the establishment of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). We look forward to bigger achievements as we prepare to engage further States and governments in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) in 2014. These reflect the growing solidarity and strength of indigenous peoples’ organizations and movement for land and self-determination.

However, we have much yet to be done.  The WTO worsened the prevalent poverty and repression currently experienced by indigenous peoples. Thus, we should also engage the WTO and other regional trade syndicates and strongly register our opposition to agreements forged without our knowledge, participation, and consent.

The very recent Alta Outcome Document reaffirms “that the inherent and inalienable right of self determination is preeminent and is a prerequisite for the realization of all rights. We Indigenous Peoples, have the right of self determination and permanent sovereignty over our lands, territories, resources, air, ice, oceans and waters, mountains and forests.” It strongly states under Theme 3: Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “13. xxx in keeping with our right of self determination and free prior and informed consent, Indigenous Peoples participate effectively and fully in the negotiations of all relevant international agreements that may affect them including multi lateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements and organizations including in the review of existing agreements;”

Thus, indigenous peoples’ engagement in these multilateral institutions shall bring to the fore as main points of assertion the UNDRIP, the Alta Outcome Document and other declarations on our right to self-determination. It shall also stand on our intensifying defense of lands, territories, waters and air at the local level.

We shall strive to achieve gains that go beyond the mechanisms and opportunities in the UN, and of the benevolence of States and governments. Like in other international fora, processes and mechanisms, we shall create our own spaces asserting our right to lands, territories, and self-determination. Indigenous peoples all over the world should assert our call to the WTO, Nothing about Us, Without Us.

Activities on the WTO and Indigenous Peoples

In the Peoples’ Global Camp against WTO and Neoliberalization, the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) together with the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN), Centre for Research and Advocacy-Manipur, Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources in Manipur, Archipelago Indigenous Youth Front-Indonesia (BPAN), Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Archipelago-Indonesia (AMAN), and Land is Life (LiL) organizes a series of activities on the WTO and Indigenous Peoples on December 2-6, 2013 in Denpasar, Bali:

  • Workshop on Indigenous Peoples and the WTO on December 2 (whole day) and December 3 (morning)
  • IP Tent, and participation in the People’s Global Camp from December 3 (afternoon) to December 6
  • Forum on Indigenous Peoples and WTO during the People’s Global Camp on December 5, 9-12 AM

The IPMSDL is a movement of grassroots-based indigenous peoples’ organizations, communities and advocates found in different parts of the world, who are struggling to defend the rights of indigenous peoples. It aims to fight for the recognition and respect of all our inherent rights as indigenous peoples to land, life, self-determination, liberation and social justice. It stands for the right of indigenous peoples to govern ourselves and for liberation from imperialism, state oppression and human rights violations.

In accordance with its goal, the IPMSDL including the co-organizers of the Workshop joins the worldwide anti-globalization movement to Junk WTO. We shall participate in the People’s Global Camp with simultaneous activities in our home countries. Citing adverse impacts to indigenous peoples, we shall also formally register with the ninth Ministerial Meeting our position “Junk WTO! No New Deals!”

The IP activities aim to gather indigenous peoples, IP advocates, environmental organizations, human rights organizations, and other civil society organizations (CSOs). It has the following objectives:

1.            Build deeper understanding and awareness on the WTO and globalization, and its specific impacts on indigenous peoples. Position the struggles of indigenous peoples in the mainstream of the global campaign against WTO and globalization;

2.           Act as a forum for exchange and learning on the impacts of WTO on indigenous peoples, and how we confront these. Forge anti-globalization solidarity among indigenous peoples and with other similarly affected sectors of society; and

3.            Formulate a Unity Statement of Indigenous Peoples that we shall submit to the WTO MC 9 and shall be part of the PGC statement on WTO; and unite on an Action Plan in engaging the WTO.

The Workshop shall also forward its Unity Statement to CSOs, State representatives, and private institutions for their information and appropriate action. We also hope to establish communications with other IP organizations, advocates and institutions. #

For queries, please contact any of the following:

Ms. Bestang K. Dekdeken

Coordinator, Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation

Email: ipmsdl@gmail.com

 

Mr. Simon Pabaras

President, Archipelago Indigenous Youth Front or BPAN

Member, Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Archipelago or AMAN

Email: simonpabaras@aman.or.id

 

Mr. Windel B. Bolinget

Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance

Email: windel@cpaphils.org

Support the Victims of Typhoon Yolanda among Indigenous Communities in the Philippines

https://rally.org/landislife.org

Cordillera Peoples Alliance, National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines (KAMP), Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN), and Land is Life Call for Support for Typhoon Yolanda Victims

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the Central Philippines and caused a lot of damages to the lives, livelihood and properties of the Filipino people. Among the affected are the indigenous peoples in the Islands of Panay, Mindoro and Palawan.

At least 50 indigenous communities of Tumandok, Ati, Hanunuo, Buhid, Bangon, Alangan and Tagbanua were directly affected by the typhoon. Houses were destroyed by the strong winds and falling trees, and other houses and communities were flooded. In Tapaz, about 80-100 % of the houses have been destroyed. The indigenous peoples’ crops and farms were also devastated. Some barangays are impassable because of landslides and debris blocking the roads. There are islands in the province of Palawan which are isolated from the town center and sources of food supplies because all their boats were destroyed.

Initial data gathered shows that at least 12,000 IP families are in need of immediate assistance. The poor socio-economic conditions of the indigenous peoples made these communities most vulnerable, and the impact of typhoon Yolanda puts them in a most difficult situation.

We are appealing for mass mobilization and support for the relief and rehabilitation operations for the indigenous peoples’ communities affected by the Typhoon Yolanda.

Donations may be sent at the LINGKOD KATRIBU drop off center in NCCP Compound at #879 EDSA, Barangay West Triangle, Quezon City. Cash donations may be sent in the following bank accounts:
Account Name: KALIPUNAN NG KATUTUBONG MAMAMAYAN NG PILIPINAS
Branch: Bank of Philippine Islands – Aurora Boulevard
Peso Account #: 3153-1517-67
Dollar Account #: 3154-0030-01 (Swift code: BOPIPHMM)

For other concerns, contact us through:
Email – kamp_phils@yahoo.com
Telephone and Fax – (02) 412-5340
Kakay Tolentino – +63-908-897-7533 / +63917-836-4710

PEOPLES OF THE WORLD RESIST CHEVRON! CHEVRON OUT OF THE CORDILLERA, PHILIPPINES NOW!

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Chevron Corporation (Chevron) is a US-owned energy company. It is a notorious polluter of land, air and bodies of water; emitter of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) that worsens the climate crisis; violator of human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights; destroyer of natural environments; and cause of killer diseases among humans. Indigenous peoples are among the affected populations that suffer the worse from these ill effects of Chevron’s operations.

It is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies. Chevron’s headquarters is located in San Ramon, California, United States (US) and operates in 180 countries. It engages in petroleum operations, chemical operations, mining operations, power generation and production of geothermal energy and other renewable energy. Its upstream operations consist primarily of exploring for, developing and producing crude oil by international export pipelines; transporting, storage and marketing of natural gas; and gas-to-liquids projects. Its downstream operations consist of refining crude oil into petroleum products; marketing of crude oil and refined products; transporting crude oil and refined products by pipeline, marine vessel, motor equipment and rail car, and manufacturing and marketing of commodity petrochemicals, plastics for industrial uses and fuel and lubricant additives.

Chevron traces its beginnings to an 1879 oil discovery at Pico Canyon, California, which led to the formation of the Pacific Coast Oil Co. that it later named Standard Oil Co. of California, subsequently, Chevron. It took on the name Chevron in 1984 when it acquired Gulf Oil Corporation, which nearly doubled its worldwide-proved crude oil and natural gas reserves. A major branch is The Texas Fuel Company, formed in Beaumont, Texas in 1901. This became The Texas Company and, eventually, Texaco. In 2001, Chevron and Texaco merged. In 2005, the merger acquired Unocal Corporation, which strengthened Chevron’s position as an energy industry leader, increasing its crude oil and natural gas assets around the world. In 2011, it bought Atlas Energy Inc.

Chevron is the second largest oil company in the US and the largest private producer of oil in Kazakhstan. It is the largest resource holder and producer among international oil companies in the Asia-Pacific region, leading natural gas and oil producer in Thailand, and top oil producer in Indonesia. One of the top petroleum producers in Angola, third largest oil producer in Nigeria, one of the leading private oil companies in Venezuela, and the only large international energy company with a continuous presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. According to the company’s website, in 2012, it had a worldwide net oil-equivalent production averaged at 2.61 million barrels per day. About 75 percent of that production occurred outside the US. For the second quarter of 2013, its earnings reached 5.4 billion US dollars, with 55 billion US dollar sales and other operating revenues.

Chevron also operates one of the most dangerous coalmines in the US – the Kemmerer Coal Mines, the largest open pit mine in the US and in the list of top companies with the most outstanding health and safety violations in 2010. Chevron Mining Inc., one of the oldest continuously operating mining companies in the US, owns three coalmines in Alabama, New Mexico and in Wyoming. Chevron Mining also produces molybdenum.

In partnership with ConocoPhillips, Chevron operates 35 chemical manufacturing facilities across the US and around the world, producing a host of toxic chemicals (polystyrene, styrene, paraxylene, and benzene, a known human carcinogen) that are dangerous to the host communities and where the products are disposed of.

Chevron’S Operations in the Philippines

Chevron is the world’s leading producer of geothermal energy. According to the company, most of its renewable energy investments are in geothermal. It has four geothermal plants, located in Indonesia and the Philippines. Its two geothermal energy projects in the Philippines are the Tiwi power plant in Albay province, and the Mak-Ban power plant in Laguna and Batangas provinces. Chevron develops and produces steam for the Tiwi and Mak-Ban power plants, with a combined generating capacity of 637 megawatts through its subsidiary, Philippine Geothermal Production Company or PGPC (formerly known as Chevron Geothermal Philippines Holdings, Inc.). The PGPC is 60% owned by the Sy Group or SM Group and 40% owned by Chevron, to comply with the Philippine Constitution, which limits foreign equity ownership of business entities to only 40%. PGPC has been operating the Tiwi and MakBan steam field assets since September 1971 or 42 years now. On April 25, 2013, the Department of Energy of the Philippines issued new service contracts to PGPC’s Tiwi and MakBan geothermal projects, granting PGPC 25 more years to operate, renewable for another 15 years. However, the issuance of new service contracts is questionable as this violates the maximum 50-year term for service contracts according to Philippine law. If we used 2013 as reference, then PGPC only has eight years left for its Tiwi and MakBan steamfield operations.

Chevron is also one of the largest investors in the Philippine energy industry, with more than $2 billion in capital investments. Its subsidiary, Chevron Philippines Inc., markets Caltex fuels, lubricants and petroleum products. In partnership with Petron Corp. and Pilipinas Shell Corp., it owns and operates since 2004 an oil terminal in Pandacan, Manila – the Pandacan Depot Services Inc. The depot sits atop 81 acres of land, with over 84,000 residents living in the immediate area, and 11 million residents in the vicinity. Residents fear that the Pandacan depot could be one of the biggest disasters waiting to happen in the petrochemical industry. Oil spills, leakages and explosions from the depot and connected pipeline have been poisoning the community. In 2001, a gas leak from the depot hospitalized dozens of students at the neighboring campus, the Polytechnic University of the Philippine. Studies show that Pandacan residents suffer from long-term exposure and illnesses associated with the depot operations.

In natural gas extraction, Chevron holds a 45% interest in the Malampaya natural gas field located 50 miles offshore Palawan Island. The Malampaya gas-to-power project is the first natural gas development and largest industrial project in the Philippines. The Malampaya project supplies 2,700 megawatts or up to 45 percent of Luzon’s power requirements. The Philippine government earned $1.1 billion revenue from the Malampaya natural gas project for its operations in 2011, and another $1.1 billion for its 2012 operations. The funds from the Malampaya project, called Malampaya Fund, augmented the government’s pork barrel fund, which has been a source of government corruption.

CHEVRON EYES GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN THE CORDILLERA, PHILIPPINES

Chevron is currently expanding its geothermal energy projects in the Philippines. In 2010, Chevron entered into a joint venture with APC Group Inc., a subsidiary of SM Group, and Guidance Management Corp., to explore, develop and operate the Kalinga geothermal prospect in the Cordillera region. The project covers 25,682 hectares of geothermal fields and plant. APC is investing $300 million to put up the project, which it targets to start producing electricity by 2018 with a capacity of 100 megawatts. The companies have already completed geological and geophysical surveys and are currently in the process of securing the consent of affected indigenous communities. The companies plan to drill exploration wells by third quarter of 2014. 

The two other geothermal prospects of Chevron are the PNOC Renewables Corporation-Magma Energy Resources project covering 23,328 hectares of land in Buguias, Benguet province and Tinoc, Ifugao province; and the PRC-Magma project covering 36,288 hectares geothermal fields and plants in the Bontoc, Sadanga and Barlig towns of Mountain Province. The APC Group also owns the Mainit-Sadanga geothermal project in Mountain Province covering 58,911 hectares and has a power-generation potential of 60-100 MW, and the Buguias-Tinoc geothermal prospect in the provinces of Benguet and Ifugao. APC Group is open to selling the project, which Chevron might acquire. 

Impact of Chevron’s GLOBAL Operations

While the people of the world clamor for solutions to the climate crisis, Chevron’s energy operations continue to contribute largely in GHG emissions. In 2009, the California Air Resources Board revealed that Chevron is the single largest stationary emitter of GHG in California. Numerous oil spills and dumping of toxic pollutants were reported in various areas of Chevron’s operations in the US, Ecuador, Angola, Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines and other parts of the world where it operates. Chevron’s oil, gas, mining and energy operations are causing massive pollution, contamination and destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity, forests, bodies of water, lands, and the air.

In Chevron’s oil operations worldwide, massive amount of chemicals are released daily into the atmosphere including Benzene, a known carcinogen which can cause nausea, fatigue, impaired speech, tremors, depression, cerebral atophy, liver and kidney damage, cardiac arrhythmia and death. In Ecuador, scientific surveys have confirmed that the rates of cancer, including mouth, stomach and uterine cancer; abnormal number of miscarriages; and birth defects among children whose mothers were exposed to contaminated water are elevated in areas contaminated by Texaco’s oil project. Chevron is also responsible for widespread health problems in Richmond, California, where one of Chevron’s largest oil refineries is located, including high rates of lupus, skin rashes, rheumatic fever, liver problems, kidney problems, tumors, cancer, asthma, and eye problems. At least 15,000 people were brought to hospitals for treatment of respiratory complications and other illnesses resulting from a massive pipeline leak in 2012. Richmond is said to have the highest rates of asthma in the US, and one of the highest rates of cancer.

Violations of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Human Rights

Chevron operates profit-driven and destructive projects at the cost of indigenous peoples’ lives; violating their inherent collective rights over ancestral lands and territories, forests and natural resources, self-determination, culture and identity, and human rights. It is also violating indigenous peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as in the case of its geothermal projects in the Cordillera, Philippines, in Ecuador and other indigenous territories in different countries.

Majority of the affected indigenous communities oppose Chevron’s geothermal energy project in Kalinga and other prospects in the Cordillera, Philippines. However, the government’s National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that is facilitating the FPIC of affected indigenous communities is working in favor of the company. In Chevron’s Kalinga project, the NCIP faked the FPIC of one of the affected communities. NCIP has also ignored community petitions against the project. Chevron’s geothermal energy projects are also causing divisions and conflicts among the affected communities.

In Ecuador, Texaco operated from 1964 to 1992 in indigenous territories of the Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa and Huaorani, during which it deliberately dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, spilled roughly 17 million gallons of crude oil, and left hazardous waste in hundreds of open pits. This is one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. For indigenous peoples, the oil operations severely affected their culture and traditions, economic livelihood, and health; and displaced indigenous communities. Up to this day, Chevron’s oil wastes continue to poison the rainforest ecosystem.

According to the Ecuadorian government, Texaco has contaminated two million hectares of land. In 2011, an Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron to pay compensation of $19 billion to clean up the mess caused by its toxic waste and restore the Amazon rainforest. However, to escape from its responsibilities to the environment and indigenous peoples in Ecuador, Chevron brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, The Netherlands that unfortunately ruled in favor of Chevron on September 2013.

Indigenous peoples affected by Chevron’s operations elsewhere in the world are experiencing similar rights abuses. Indigenous peoples in Riau province in the center of Sumatra Island, Indonesia and the Wayuu indigenous peoples in Colombia and Venezuela have likewise been displaced from their ancestral lands, and are suffering from the health effects and environmental destruction caused by Chevron’s oil operations for decades. Indigenous communities in Canada are threatened by Chevron’s tar sands mining projects.

Most of Chevron’s human rights abuses result from the deployment of government military troops in securing their project operations, and the repression and suppression of people’s opposition to the projects. Chevron has employed brutal measures to quiet protests, including utilizing government security services bringing charges of human rights abuse, violence and intimidation against indigenous peoples as experienced in Indonesia, Myanmar, and Angola. These human rights abuses also include forced labor, rape, beatings, torture, summary executions, extrajudicial killings, and political intimidations. In 2010, EarthRights International documented two cases of extrajudicial killings by Burmese Army providing security for Chevron’s Yadana project. The Yadana project was dubbed as “one of the world’s most controversial development projects and is widely recognized as a textbook example of corporate complicity in human rights abuses.”

Chevron has also been attacking human rights and environment advocate groups such as Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network and other non-government organizations that have helped in the global campaign for Chevron to face its accountabilities in Ecuador.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ ISSUES AND DEMANDS

Chevron illustrates corporate control of the world’s natural resources, and strengthening the US’ imperialist domination of the world’s populace. In the name of profit and power, Chevron is commodifying the world’s remaining natural resources and forests that are in indigenous peoples’ territories.

In all of its crimes against humanity and Mother Earth, Chevron continues to deny its responsibilities and accountabilities. It manages to turn court rulings in its favor in numerous cases filed against the company for violations of human rights, massive environmental destruction, effects of its operations to human health, and complete disregard of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and their inherent collective rights to their land, territories and natural resources. The company continues to employ government military troops in suppressing peoples’ opposition.

Chevron is infamous for using money to ensure political influence in the US and around the world, and the continuous flow of profit from its numerous operations. In 2009, Chevron earned a spot on the top ten list of highest spenders on all federal lobbying, with more than $21 million spent on federal lobbying. It was the fourth largest federal campaign contributor from the oil and gas sector during 2009-2010, with 82% of its nearly $940,000 in contributions to Republican candidates. It likewise doled out $500,000 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “which is leading the fight to demonize pending EPA rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The company is undeniably worsening the current multiple crisis that we face today. It is exacerbating the climate crisis, pushing more people into deeper poverty and health crisis, and aggravating the marginalization and discrimination of indigenous peoples. If the company’s human rights abuses and environmental destruction in the US is unhampered and continues with impunity, what more in developing countries whose governments the US directly or indirectly control.

Indigenous peoples demand Chevron to STOP and pullout its numerous projects from indigenous territories. These projects give nothing but destruction and disregard of the natural environment, which indigenous peoples depend on for survival. Indigenous peoples do not benefit from any of Chevron’s activities but instead, it threatens with ethnocide.

Indigenous peoples join the millions of people worldwide that are waging struggles against Chevron – a fight against imperialism, a struggle against the economic, social and political domination of the world by corporations and the US.

Furthermore, indigenous peoples urge Chevron, governments, the United Nations and other inter-governmental bodies, and the civil society to:

  • Ensure the respect and genuine recognition of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, to their lands, territories and resources, to self-determined and sustainable development, and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected indigenous peoples;
  • Uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other international agreements and declarations on indigenous peoples’ rights human rights;
  • Provide just compensation and rehabilitation of affected indigenous communities, clean-up Chevron’s wastes in Ecuador and other countries where it operates;
  • Punish Chevron for its crimes against indigenous peoples, and the environment;
  • Support indigenous peoples’ struggles against Chevron’s operations and resisting Chevron in indigenous territories, and the solidarity and cooperation of indigenous peoples with other sectors of society and peoples affected by Chevron; and
  • Support the indigenous peoples’ struggle against Chevron’s geothermal energy projects in the Cordillera region, Philippines.

For more information on how you can help, contact the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance secretariat at cpa@cpaphils.org.

Cordillera Peoples Alliance. November 2013

References:

  1. Official website of Chevron Corporation. www.chevron.com.
  2. Chevron news release. “Chevron Reports Second Quarter Net Income of $5.4 Billion.” August 2, 2013.
  3. The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report. May 2009. www.TrueCostofChevron.com
  4. The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report. May 2010. www.TrueCostofChevron.com
  5. The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report. May 2011. www.TrueCostofChevron.com
  6. Gonzales, Iris. “Malampaya group prepares next phase of project development.” The Philippine Star. September 27, 2013.
  7. ChevronToxico. http://chevrontoxico.com
  8. “The 14 Worst Corporate Evildoers.” International Labor Rights Forum. http://www.laborrights.org/creating-a-sweatfree-world/ethical-consumerism/news/11434
  9. Ecuador protests denial of US visas for plaintiffs in Chevron oil damages case. September 21, 2013. http://rt.com/news/ecuador-protests-denial-us-visas-162/
  10. Ecuador Suffers Yet Another Setback in Case against Chevron as International Tribunal Absolves the Company of Responsibility for ‘Collective’ Damage. http://www.ibtimes.com/ecuador-suffers-yet-another-setback-case-against-chevron-international-tribunal-absolves-company
  11. “Over 200 Arrested at Anti-Chevron Protests This Weekend.” August 5, 2013. http://www.popularresistance.org/over-200-arrested-at-anti-chevron-protests-this-weekend/
  12. Chevron Eyes more Geothermal Energy Projects. July 3, 2013. http://ph.news.yahoo.com/chevron-eyes-more-geothermal-projects-214157752.html
  13. APC Group plans $300m investment into project in Kalinga. June 19, 2013. http://thinkgeoenergy.com/archives/15758

POWER TO THE PEOPLE! Support the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Destructive Renewable Energy Projects

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The concept of renewable energy can be deceptive.  Power facilities that tap renewable sources of energy – geothermal, hydro, wind, and the like – are often believed to generate little or no adverse impact on the environment or on the people who live in the areas where these facilities are installed.   But large hydroelectric dams are renewable energy facilities.  And the construction of large dams has already displaced at least 40 million people worldwide (World Commission on Dams 2000).   Among those who have been displaced by large dams are indigenous peoples of the Agno river valley in the Cordillera region of northern Philippines.  Their experience shows that if undertaken on too large a scale, with only state and corporate interests in mind, and with no regard for the land or the people they affect, renewable energy projects can destroy lives.  

Globally, people are campaigning against continued reliance on fossil fuels for energy since these are the main source of the greenhouse gas emissions that account for the climate crisis.  However, big business is now capitalizing on popular advocacy of renewable energy to devise profitable projects that appear to be environment-friendly but will, in truth, impact heavily on ecosystems and on the communities that live within these.  

In the Philippines, the legal framework for profiting on renewable energy is provided by the Electrical Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) and the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 (REA).  The EPIRA handed over power generation, transmission, and distribution from state-owned to capitalist-owned corporations, put the supply of electricity on the commodities market, and deregulated pricing by producers as well as distributors.  The REA provided fiscal guarantees of high returns on investments in renewable energy projects.  

Twelve years after the passage of the EPIRA, Filipinos are burdened with expensive electricity.  The Philippines’ Department of Energy admits that the country ranks second to Japan in having the highest priced electricity in Asia, averaging PhP 9.70 per kilowatt hour or USD 0.22/kWh, up from USD 0.08/kWh in 2001.  Power generation is dominated by old names in Philippine business – San Miguel, Aboitiz, Lopez, Ayala – plus the world leader in geothermals, Chevron.  Transmission is the monopoly of, Henry Sy, owner of a nationwide chain of mega-malls.  Only distribution remains unconcentrated.  This is in the hands of provincial cooperatives.  But they are price-takers.  Their members, the ordinary consumers, shoulder the brunt of the privatization of the energy industry and the deregulation of power rates.  As its price continues to rise, electricity is becoming unaffordable for the poor and marginalized sectors, such as indigenous peoples.  

Five years after the passage of the REA, local governments and indigenous peoples have to put up with the importunate efforts of corporate representatives and state officials to cajole, bribe, or pressure them into accepting a plethora of renewable energy projects.  As of 30 August 2013, the Department of Energy had accepted a total of 588 applications for such projects, with a combined capacity of 11,900 megawatts.  The current system capacity of the country’s electrical power industry is already 11,449 MW.  The current peak demand is only 9,526 MW and is projected to rise to only 12,394 MW by 2022.  Need is clearly not the reason for the projects.  Rather, it is the prospect of profit.  

THE CORDILLERA: A SOURCE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

The Cordillera region has a population of 1.7 million (2010 Census), the majority of which is comprised by indigenous peoples belonging to at least eight ethno-linguistic groups, collectively known as Igorot (literally, those of the mountains).   As indigenous peoples, integrated in our ways of life is stewardship and protection of the land and all the natural resources it holds for the enjoyment of future generations. However, the state and big business have long considered the Cordillera as a resource base for the development of the mineral, logging, and power industries, and disregarded the fact that it is our homeland. 

Nationwide, the Cordillera region has the highest energy resource potential, estimated at 3,586 MW, 27% of the country’s potential.  The region hosts the headwaters of 13  major  river systems,  and supplies irrigation to Central Luzon, the Ilocos region, and parts of the Cagayan region.  It is the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon, playing  a  key  role  in  maintaining  ecological balance in northern Philippines.  Its rivers and creeks have been attracting corporate investments in hydropower since the late 1940s.  Apart from hydroelectricity, renewable energy potentials include geothermal, wind, and solar power.

In the government’s Regional Development Plan (2011-2016), harnessing the energy potentials of the Cordillera is among the key priorities.  As of 30 August 2013, the Department of Energy had already awarded one wind, seven geothermal, and 43 hydro power projects to various corporations, and  was processing 60 more hydropower applications.  The Department’s list of projects does not include one large multi-purpose dam that another government agency, the National Irrigation Administration, intends to build in the town of Natonin, Mountain Province.  It also does not yet reflect ongoing studies for the feasibility of building two more large dams in the neighboring town of Barlig.  These would raise the total number of hydropower projects to 106.  The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is still trying to secure the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the affected communities to most of the aforesaid projects.

At present, the 17 operational hydroelectric facilities in the Cordillera region have an installed capacity of more than 660 MW and a dependable capacity of more than 318 MW.  Additional hydropower potential is placed at 1,259 MW, and geothermal resource potential at 510 MW.  However, the annual energy peak demand in the region is only 107.5 MW.  The region’s energy production goes straight to the Luzon power grid.  And not all the villages of the region’s indigenous peoples are supplied with electricity from this grid.  In fact, it took almost 50 years before electricity from the grid was finally channeled to households living in the vicinity of the first hydropower dams built in the Cordillera, on the Agno river, at Ambuklao in Bokod and Binga in Itogon, Benguet province.  As of 2007, only 89.45% of Cordillera households enjoyed electricity.

Chevron, the notorious US-owned firm, is among the numerous corporations that aim to operate renewable energy projects in the region. Its geothermal energy project in the province of Kalinga, targeted for full operation by 2018, covers 25,682 hectares.  Its two other geothermal prospects cover approximately 76,000 hectares in Benguet, Ifugao, and the Mountain Province.  Another major firm is Aboitiz, which has partnered with SN Power of Norway, and now owns the Ambuklao and Binga dams, plus a dozen smaller hydro facilities. Aboitiz has 33 hydropower projects.  Other companies with renewable energy projects in the region include the Ayala subsidiary Quadriver, Henry Sy’s APC Group of Companies, Sta. Clara, Pan-Pacific, AsiaPac, Southeast Asia Renewable Energy, Basic Energy, AVG Power Systems, Clean Rock, PhilCarbon, and Chevron’s longtime partner, the Philippine National Oil Company Renewables Corporation.

POWER TO CORDILLERA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Foreign and local corporations are raking in profit from energy projects as guaranteed by the EPIRA and the REA.  Indigenous peoples do not benefit from these capitalist projects.  Instead, we have to cope with rising electricity prices, adding insult to the injuries our communities have suffered as a result of the impact of the energy projects on our environment, livelihood, and ways of life.  There are still communities in the Cordillera that need electricity, but the existing hydropower facilities that generate massive amounts of energy are not providing this. 

The state’s promotion of corporate renewable energy projects in the Cordillera has entailed numerous violations of our rights as indigenous peoples to ancestral domain and self-determination.  Mega-dams built despite our protests have already displaced hundreds of families of indigenous peoples.  Putting up 106 more hydropower facilities will seriously disrupt our livelihood, which includes irrigated farming and freshwater fishing.  Drilling for geothermal energy in our heavily mineralized region will aggravate environmental pollution and health problems, which we are already experiencing from large mining operations. 

As indigenous peoples, we are guaranteed the right to free and prior informed consent regarding all projects that might impact on our ancestral domains.  The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is mandated to facilitate the FPIC process while ensuring that this is conducted properly.  However, in the processing of renewable energy projects, the NCIP has colluded with the Department of Energy and the corporations to maneuver around our communities’ opposition and railroad the building of so-called consensus in favor of the projects.  In relation to Chevron’s Kalinga project, the NCIP fabricated a bogus resolution of FPIC in the name of the Dananao tribe.  In relation to one large dam project, also in Kalinga, the NCIP would have let one corporation get away with fabricating the existence of a new, distinct tribe, were it not for the vigilance of a local peasant organization.  And in relation to a set of small hydro projects in Ifugao, it allowed public officials to use the military’s presence in the area to intimidate the local citizens into voting for “FPIC”.  Also, the NCIP has adopted guidelines which allow corporations to apply for FPIC again and again when communities persistently refuse their projects.  The NCIP has thus disrespected our peoples and violated our right to self-determination. 

Most of our communities who are affected by renewable energy projects oppose them because these bear ethnocidal impacts or threaten our survival as persons and as peoples:

  • Diversion of  water, economic dislocation, and even displacement from our ancestral lands;
  • Water, air, and land pollution, which results in toxic contamination of remaining potable water and irrigation sources, soil degradation and diminishing crop yields, the siltation and biological death of rivers, and the loss of biodiversity;
  • The loss of the community’s control over its own territory, and the restriction of community access to the resources here;
  • Heightened human rights violations as the state deploys its armed forces to secure the renewable energy projects.

 We do not need state-fostered, capitalist-driven renewable energy projects. We have proven that community-managed renewable energy projects are able to provide for our electricity needs. For nearly three decades now, many of our communities have gotten their electricity from micro-hydro plants, pico-hydro turbines, and photo-voltaic plates which they themselves have installed and managed.  Besides supplying them with electricity, the micro-hydros also provide mechanical energy for rice and corn mills.

Our Alternative

For energy development – indeed, for economic development as a whole – to become viable and sustainable in our indigenous peoples’ territories, it must be underpinned by the recognition and respect of our collective rights to ancestral domain, to self-determination, and to basic survival as human beings.  Rather than be geared towards satisfying capitalist greed, it should address our practical needs.  Rather than consist of a chaos of projects, it should be comprised of a rationally and carefully outlined program in resource utilization and management.  It should be a program in responsible stewardship of nature, undertaken for the welfare and interest not only of the present but also of future generations.  Consistent with our peoples’ traditions in cooperativism, and in resource and benefit sharing, the ownership as well as operation of facilities should be socialized rather than privatized, and gains should be distributed equitably among the members of society.

We advocate:

  • At the local level, community-owned and managed, clean and environment-friendly renewable energy systems that directly address the basic needs of rural citizenry in food production and processing, cooking, lighting, communications, and village industry.  An example are the already operational micro-hydropower systems designed, installed, and managed by our community organizations;
  • At the national level, a socialized, integrated power generation, transmission, and distribution system developed to meet the needs of urban citizenry, public service institutions, and vibrant yet regulated and responsible industrial and trade sectors.

Our Present Demands

We, indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, collectively demand the full recognition of our right to ancestral domain and self-determination. Uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other international agreements and declarations that recognize and guarantee indigenous peoples’ rights and basic human rights!

We demand that the Philippine government, especially the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Energy, ensure the following, and that private corporations do similarly:

  • Respect indigenous peoples’ right to self-determined and sustainable development.
  • Respect and abide by the principles of genuinely free, prior, informed consent.
  • Stop the militarization of the Cordillera indigenous peoples’ territories where projects in energy and other extractive industries are located.
  • Cancel energy projects and contracts with fraudulent FPIC.
  • Indemnify the victims of past energy projects that were forced on communities and impacted adversely on them.  Provide just compensation, decent relocation, and appropriate livelihood rehabilitation to any indigenous community that might decide in favor of an energy project.
  • Scrap the EPIRA, the REA, and other laws that have privatized, commodified, and deregulated the power industry, which is supposed to be a public concern, and that have fostered irresponsible, profit-oriented resource exploitation.
  • Ensure affordable energy for the people.

In addition:

  • Corporations and the Philippine government itself must be held accountable for the violations of human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights in advancing energy projects.

How You Can Help

We urge indigenous peoples’ organizations, people’s movements, indigenous rights and human rights advocates, other individuals, and institutions to support the Cordillera peoples’ struggle against destructive capitalist renewable energy projects.  We enjoin you to support our activities:

  • Community organizing and education;
  • Campaigns, mobilization, and direct actions on renewable energy projects;
  • Public awareness-raising and information-dissemniation;
  • Lobby and advocacy at the local, national, and international levels;
  • Exposing and resisting Chevron and other energy monopolies who have had an apalling  environmental and social record;
  • Supporting the international people’s struggle against Chevron’s global operations.

 We encourage you to write letters of concern to:

  • The Philippine government, particularly its Department of Energy, and its National Commission on Indigenous Peoples;
  • International bodies promoting indigenous peoples’ rights, human rights, and environmental protection;
  • Chevron Corporation.

 Also:

  • Join the Global Indigenous Peoples’ Days of Action on Energy on 9-10 November 2013.
  • Support and participate in the Cordillera Day celebration on 23-24 April 2014, themed “Resist imperialist plunder. Assert our right to self determination and sustainable development.” It shall highlight renewable energy and other development and human rights issues in the region.

 CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE. November 2013