An Open Letter

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Men work on a mining pit in Fungamwak, one of the coltan mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. © Brockmann / MISEREOR

Letter of Solidarity
to the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc.

To whom it may concern:

The signatories to this letter wish to express their solidarity with the Philippine Misereor Partnership (PMPI), namely with two of their staff and two former staff (Yolanda R. Esguerra, national coordinator, Candy Hidalgo, deputy national coordinator, Edel Garigan, former Anti-Mining- Campaign (AMC) project officer, Victor Morillo, former AMC advocacy officer).

As participants of a workshop on “Oil and Mining in Africa”, taking place in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, from 13 to 17 June 2016, we were informed that all four PMPI staff named above are facing criminal charges for cyber libel under the Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012. The charges were filed by the Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC), a company which pursues a controversial mining project in Manicani Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar which is opposed by PMPI.

Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) is a Philippine company, based in Taguig City. It is a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC), a publicly-listed company in the Philippines, based in Taguig City. NAC claims to be the Philippine’s largest producer of lateritic nickel ore and one of the largest in the world. NAC’s principal business involves selling nickel ore to customers from China and Japan.

As part of an anti-mining campaign, PMPI in cooperation with the Catholic Diocese of Borongan supports the local initiative Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO), which opposes the resumption of large scale mining on the island because of its disastrous effects on the environment and the livelihood of the population.

We, the undersigned are deeply worried about accusations by HMC that PMPI made libelous statements on their website regarding an incident which took place on June 20, 2015, when a barge hired by the company destroyed three fisher boats when forcing its way into the port of Manicani Island. PMPI issued several statements condemning the incident. HMC calls parts of these statements lies and malicious. PMPI maintains that their statements are truthful and not libelous.

The undersigned are concerned that the case against the four PMPI staff is meant to intimidate, silence, and cow the individuals and the organization so that eventually they abandon their criticism and opposition to the mining company. The mining company being an entity that affects the public interest cannot be exempted from critics and comments by concerned citizens and should refrain from harassing citizens participating in public discourse.

The undersigned declare their solidarity with PMPI staff and member organisations and encourage the company to withdraw the case. Freedom of expression and opinion, as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippines is a state party, must be respected and protected. The Philippine government, but also private companies, have a responsibility for this.

Pointe Noire, 17 June 2016


This letter of solidarity was signed by 19 participants of the above-mentioned Workshop “Oil and Mining in Africa”, organized by MISEREOR, the German Catholic Bishops Organisation for Development Cooperation from 13 – 17 June 2016 in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo.
The participants came from the following countries: Cameroun, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Malawi, Nigeria, RepubLic of Congo.

Evelyne TSAGUE Cameroun
Ohna MAVONDO Service Nationale Justice et Paix (SNJP) Cameroun
Abbé Antoine BÉRILENGAR Jesuit Chad
Vincent HENDRICKX MISEREOR, Head office N’Djamena Chad
Ade ADEYE MISEREOR, country representative Democratic Republic of Congo
Benoit MUKWANGA Justice et Paix Katanga Democratic Republic of Congo
Coco Bbangu KUSU CERN / CENCO (Commission Episcoplale pour les Ressources Naturelles) Democratic Republic of Congo
Axel MUELLER Germany
Elisabeth STROHSCHEIDT MISEREOR, Asia department Germany
Kathrin SCHROEDER MISEREOR, dept. of policy and global challenges Germany
Vincent NEUSSL MISEREOR, Africa department Germany
Success Joel SIKWESE Malawi
Fr. Kevin O’HARA Stakeholder Alliance for Corporate Accountability Nigeria
Brice MACKOSSO Justice et Paix, Pointe Noire Republic of Congo
Charlotte BOYER Republic of Congo
Christian MOUNZEO RPDH (Rencontre pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme Republic of Congo
Abbé Félicien MAVOUGOU Commission Nationale Justice et Paix Republic of Congo
Rita MABYALHAT Justice et Paix, Pointe Noire Republic of Congo
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