Not a Debate but a Search for Truth

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of Philippine Daily Inquirer

This is in response to the article “Mining Confab Minus the Miners” (page B3) dated January 30, 2012.

Daxim L. Lucas, the author of the article, bluntly accused the organizers of the International Conference on Mining in Mindanao as having “a pre-ordained result in mind” by not inviting representatives from the mining industry. Of course, the conference had a pre-ordained agenda. All conferences do – they are called objectives. He was, as a matter of fact, correct in saying that the conference was “by-invitation-only.” This was because part of the objectives is to “strengthen the networking among people’s organizations and NGOs doing work on mining” and “promote greater participation in dialogue and exchange among the peoples of Mindanao affected by mining.” The organizers only invited representatives from LGUs affected by mining, NGOs and POs doing work on the environment, Academe and Church, because the conference objectives were clear that it would be a meeting of like-minded people, “a homogenous group in order for participants to level off in their campaigns.” The conference, in short, was NEVER an open conference. Representatives from the mining industry were not the only ones excluded from the conference.

That the miners were not invited does not assail the internationality of the conference. Representatives from different international institutions were present: Human Rights Watch – New York, UNESCO, Revenue Watch based in New York, Mining Watch Canada, World Wildlife Fund, London Working Group on Mining in the Philippines, Triple 11 Movement and researchers from Ghent and Carleton Universities, to name some.

The conference was an academic exercise with a stated purpose. Not a debate but a search for truth. The mining industry cannot dictate its agenda on academe. We did not want a debate but a deliberation towards a deeper understanding on the mining industry in the light of what our invited experts had to say.

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