Eliza Hernandez (64), returns from washing the clothes at Barangay Balingbing, Boac on Marinduque Island in the Philippines Photo: David Sproule/OxfamAUS

The Philippines

The Philippines is a place of magnificent natural beauty but it is still probably most well known to the world at large for the former First Lady’s shoe fetish. Sadly, not much has changed since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, as the gap between rich and poor remains great.

Filipinos suffer desperate income inequality with the poorest 20% of the population accounting for a mere 5% of the country’s total income.  One in three people still live below the poverty line.

Oxfam Australia supports poor and marginalised communities in the Philippines who are adversely affected by development bank projects such as dams and power stations, and mining operations. We also respond when natural disasters strike to provide life-saving assistance.

Monitoring development banks

The Asian Development Bank  (ADB) and the World Bank, are major drivers of economic development, especially large-scale infrastructure projects, in the Philippines. But these banks often fund projects that undermine people’s rights, creating detrimental outcomes for poor communities.

As part of the Manila-based NGO Forum on ADB, we actively monitor development bank projects, and work with other organisations to support communities adversely affected by these projects.

We aim to influence bank policies and practices, and lobby donors, including the Australian Government.

Abuses by Australian-owned mines

Oxfam Australia investigates reports of human rights violations, environmental degradation and poverty as a result of Australian-owned or financed mining operations. In the Philippines, we have worked with several communities supporting them as they demand that mining companies respect their rights.

Proposed mine in Didipio

Many in the Didipio community are concerned that a proposed mine may cause environmental damage, endanger their health and displace them from their land. Since 2002, we have worked at the community’s request to ensure their voices are heard.

Marinduque Island mine

Marcopper started mining on Marinduque Island four decades ago, and for more than 20 years, dumped millions of tonnes of toxic mine waste into its seas and rivers. We have supported local community members demand that mine owners face up to their responsibilities, clean up their mess and pay compensation to the community.

Rapu-Rapu Island mine

Since September 2006, we have conducted extensive field investigations into allegations of environmental and social mismanagement by Australian company, Lafayette Mining Limited (who have since gone into voluntary administration) on Rapu-Rapu Island.

Responding to emergencies

We have responded to several natural disasters in the Philippines, most recently to the devastating typhoons that swept through the country in late 2006, affecting some 1.5 million people. We distributed emergency cash grants to evacuees, provided blankets, jerry cans and sanitation supplies, and safe water to the thousands of people taking shelter in evacuation centres.

Fast facts

Population living below the national poverty line:
36.8%
Infant mortality rate:
20.56 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
71.09 years
Literacy:
92.6%

Source: CIA World Factbook, UNDP

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