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Duterte - a Filipino sell-out

Written by: Nick G. on 2 June 2021


The reactionary Duterte regime, which has murdered thousands of Filipinos in the names of drug eradication and anti-Communism, is pushing ahead with the further opening up of the country’s economy and resources to foreign finance capital – mainly Chinese, but with some Australian as well.

The previous Aquino government had placed a temporary moratorium on new mineral agreements, pending a new tax law. 

Duterte signed Executive Order 130 on April 14 lifting the nine-year moratorium on mineral agreements in an attempt to spur economic growth halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the independent IBON Foundation questions the possibility of economic gain from mining, saying that “mining has delivered paltry gains. From 2001 to 2020 (available data is for January to September only), total exports of minerals and mineral products grew almost seven-fold from US$537 million to US$3.7 billion, but this contributed only 1.7% in 2001 and 8.3% in 2020 to total Philippine exports.”

Who is set to benefit?

According to IBON, “available data show that China is the top nationality with ownership in mining tenements in the Philippines and also accounts for a huge number of mining permits and pending applications.”

But there are some Australian companies sending capital to the Philippines. There are two gold processing plants operated by Australian firms, CGA Limited and Medusa Mining. The two companies account for half of the gold extracted in the Philippines. The largest shareholder in CGA is National Nominees with a 20.79% stake, followed by Peter Switzer’s Switzer Financial Group with 13.04%.  Medusa’s largest shareholders are also nominee companies headed by HSBC Custody Nominees with 31.83%. As the top five shareholders, these nominee companies (whose individual investors remain hidden from view) account for 70.36% of shares held in the company.

In another panicked response to the Philippine’s ailing economy, Duterte instructed the nation’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources last December to renew a long-delayed agreement with Australian-based miner OceanaGold governing the company’s Didipio gold-copper underground mine on the island of Luzon.

OceanaGold has been in dispute with local Indigenous people, the Bugkalot, and anti-mining environmentalists. Their 25-year mining agreement expired in June 2019. Many of its workforce had been sacked as a result. 

OceanaGold began operations in 1990 in New Zealand, at a small gold mine at Macraes. It moved into the Philippines in 2006 when it merged with Didipio’s owner, Climax Mining Co., based in New South Wales. According to its 2020 AGM, its two largest shareholders now are the BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd., a subsidiary of the controversial US BlackRock company, the largest investor in US weapons manufacturing and a contributor to global warming. It has an 18.56% stake in OceanaGold.  The second largest shareholder is the US Van Eck Associates Corp with 9.02%. An Australian-based company, it is now largely a front for US capital.

Not only is OceanaGold being assisted by direct Presidential intervention to renew its mining agreement, but the Philippine government has also apparently certified that the OceanaGold’s agreement area is outside the ancestral domain of the Indigenous people.

While OceanaGold may have the backing of Duterte’s government, it has no social licence (community agreement) for its mine, and any attempt to restart operations will be met with spirited opposition.

Australian communists have long supported our Philippines comrades in their revolutionary struggle to free their country through people’s war.

As a country also dominated by US imperialism, we Australian communists will oppose Australia companies looking to exploit the people and the resources of other countries, at the same time as we fight for our own anti-imperialist independence and socialism. 


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