FACES joins with grassroots partners to build environmental justice between communities in the United States and in the Philippines.
Chevron Accountability Campaign
Since 2006, FACES has actively joined with grassroots communities in Metro Manila who are fighting for relocation, reparations and cleanup of a polluting oil depot in Metro Manila, owned by the California-based Chevron and its partners Shell and Petron.
An estimated 83,000 residents are impacted by the hazardous Pandacan oil depot, a residential district in the heart of Metro Manila. Philippine civil society and environmental groups are actively campaigning for the relocation of the massive depot for years, out of concerns for their health, safety, and environment.
Between the oil depot and neighboring community, Chevron and its partners have constructed a “green buffer zone.” Although meant to maintain a distance between the oil depot and the community, the area is only a few meters wide and has been developed into a public walkway and park for children.
Accidental spills, leakages and fires have overwhelmed the community over the years, and residents and advocates are concerned about the depot’s affects on public health. A study conducted with Global Community Monitor in 2002 detected high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen and component of gasoline, in the air around Pandacan. The UP College of Medicine also reported abnormal levels of lead in urine samples and diagnosed the majority of patients tested with median neuropathy.
FACES launched the Chevron Campaign in partnership with Manila-based groups like Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice (AESJ), who are leading local efforts for the responsible relocation of the depot. The campaign has worked to conduct research on the health impact resurge review and case studies; build alliances with sister communities impacted by Chevron operations; directly pressure Chevron to heed the concerns of Manila residents; and raise public awareness and pressure around the issue through workshops, petitions, and peaceful actions.
Most recently, FACES has joined with the True Cost of Chevron coalition, bringing together the stories and fight of fenceline communities from across California and the US, Nigeria, Ecuador, Burma, Kazakhstan, Iraq, and more.
We are seeking volunteers to assist with research, developing educational materials, and organizing speaking events and workshops. If you’re interested in joining the Chevron Campaign Committee, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
In August 2003, FACES led 9 women on the first face-to-face trip to the Philippines, where they connected with various organizations and communities struggling for environmental justice. Again in 2004, a FACES delegation visited the Philippines and met with past and future partners. From these experiences, FACES members and our Philippine partners identified the importance of a constant face-to-face exchange. With the intention of systematizing an ongoing exchange program, FACES formed the Face2Face program.
Directions and goals
Face2Face is a national, all-inclusive program to educate and deepen the understanding of the magnitude of Philippine and US Environmental Justice issues, with the intention of establishing meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships between communities in the Philippines & US by coordinating and facilitating educational trips. FACES also hopes to collaborate with U.S.-based organizations and communities to set up exposure trips in the Bay Area, familiarizing FACES members and participants with local struggles.
In an increasingly global economic, social, and political environment, it is becoming more and more critical to encourage young people to gain awareness and take action on pressing transnational issues. The FACE2FACE Exchange trip will be designed to nurture a valuable learning experience that will provide inspired and educated young people the skills and the understanding necessary in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.
Living and working with our partners and communities in the Philippines will:
a) expose participants to the effects of militarism, globalization, and capitalism on local communities and their resources
b) introduce participants to groups that are fighting for environmental justice in the Philippines;
c) foster a sense of ownership and understanding through a hands-on service learning curriculum;
d) engage participants in direct action with FACES partner groups; and
e) build strong relationships among participants and FACES leadership that will help participants maintain involvement in environmental and social justice work after the exchange trip.
FACES believes that participants will embark on a challenging adventure through the FACE2FACE Exchange Trip, connecting environmental struggles in the U.S. to those in the Philippines and turning education into action.
Through Kamalayan, FACES members will engage in a series of discussions and activities around the meaning of transnational environmental justice and solidarity in relation to our work. We hope that raising our levels of consciousness will ultimately sharpen our work as a US-based environmental justice organization, working with communities and struggles both here in the U.S. and in the Philippines.
We are looking for Committee Members Interested In:
• Curriculum development: (1) The S in FACES; (2) Social Change Framework in FACES’ Approach to Service, Education, Advocacy, and Organizing; (3) FACES’ role in the global environmental justice movement.
• Compiling information and develop “The ABC’s of EJ” for our website.
Bases Clean Up
The US military produces environmental contamination in every major domestic and foreign base. In the 1980s, the General Accounting Office of the US Congress found the US military to be one of the worst violators of environmental laws. Since then, legislation has been passed and domestic cleanup programs initiated to minimize the threat from military bases to public health and the environment. In Europe and other countries, lawsuits were filed forcing the US military to clean up.
The US military left toxic solvents, pesticides, asbestos, heavy metals, unexploded ordnance and other hazardous substances. Serious groundwater and soil contamination in over 46 sites on Clark and Subic is documented in reports by the US General Accounting Office (GAO), World Health Organization, Independent US and Philippine experts, two US-based environmental firms, and the Department of Defense’s internal reports. US failure to meet its environmental safety standards is also documented by the GAO. Yet, US officials refuse to even acknowledge the problem.
The health effects of some of these hazardous wastes are readily seen, as in those victims suffering from asbestosis or wounds from detonated ammunition. The health effects of other waste materials such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other persistent organic pollutants are less discernible but equally deadly. These substances have been linked to reproductive failure, cancers, and behavioral disorders. Former Clark residents report many cases of stillbirths, birth defects, cancers, skin problems, and mental disability. Some Clark residents still drink from wells testing positive for mercury. A preliminary health survey, released in 1998, shows that communities closest to toxic sites report higher rates of reproductive, kidney, and nervous system disorders. Many leukemia cases have been diagnosed among children and as many as 81 people have died.
It is unconscionable that the US, with full knowledge of the danger of military contamination and while willing to protect those in developed countries, is unwilling to help the Philippines, a country with few financial and technical resources to conduct a comprehensive cleanup. This US refusal to protect health violates international law. Filipino Americans can rectify this environmental injustice by pressuring the US government to meet its moral and legal obligations to protect health.
Directions and Goals
FACES remains dedicated to the affected communities and will continue to support the communities through the following activities:
1. Partnering with Metro Subic Network (MSN):
During the 2005 national conference, FACES members held a conference call wherein MSN shared their recent activities renaming their organization and mobilizing their local communities to protest the dumping of human waste by the US Navy. In addition, MSN shared their plans for 2005, which include:
a) Reorienting MSN to local community members, to assure them that MSN is independent of the People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up.
b) Education: They plan to hold seminars for doctors, base workers, NGOs, community organizations, local government units, barangay health workers, and the media.
c) Organizing: They plan to strengthen their member groups including the group of mothers, Sinag, Anak ng Biyaya, victims of toxic contamination, Autism Society of Olongapo, and survivors.
d) Research: They want to do research on the health status of people in the17 barangays and assess the potential contamination in the local rivers.
e) Legal and Technical Assistance: They want to work with technical experts and lawyers to help in the SAVA (Subic Asbestos Victims Association) cases.
2. Recruiting sponsors for Philippine Scholars in Madapdap, Pampanga:
For the past few years, Philippine Scholars has provided monetary aid to students in Madapdap, a community whose children were afflicted with diseases after living in the former U.S bases. Previously, the community was divided over the process of choosing scholars, the distribution of funds and the work of the chosen program coordinator. In the past few months, however, these problems have been resolved. FACES is committed to finding more sponsors for the Scholars in the Pampanga region.
3. Donating to Physical Therapy:
Some of the children afflicted with neuromuscular disorders are transported to a physical therapy center in Angeles where they receive treatment free of charge. The transportation is costly and many families are unable to take the time to bring their child. A local community organizer suggested raising money to build a physical therapy center in one of the local communities. FACES agreed to financially support this effort.
4. Closing the contaminated well:
The Sapang Bato well remains open, potentially contaminating a deep aquifer, exposing the surrounding community to contaminated water. FACES will explore creative ways to raise money to seal the well.
5. Working with US military bases around the world:
In Dec. 2002, 36 Philippine residents, Arc Ecology & FACES filed a lawsuit asking the US DoD to conduct a Preliminary Assessment/Site Inspection at Clark & Subic under provisions of CERCLA. CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) is also known as the Superfund Law in the U.S.
On December 8, 2003, a San Jose federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the laws on which the petition is based do not apply to former U.S. bases in the Philippines.
On Dec 31, 2003, Attorney Scott Allen filed a notice of appeal at the United States Ninth District Court of Appeals. The appeal cited case law and provisions of the DERP (Defense Environmental Restoration Program) statute to show that CERCLA is applicable to former overseas military bases Clark & Subic which were “owned by, leased to, or otherwise possessed by the United States” at the time the contamination occurred. (Copy of appeal documents available upon request)
On Jan 11, 2005, a hearing was held. Scott Allen and the lawyer for the DoD presented their oral arguments before the court. In July 2005, the Ninth Circuit judged ruled against the assessment, stating that CERCLA is not applicable because the claim was filed after the base was closed.
FACES hopes to build an advocacy effort with US military bases around the world that are subject to close-out and face similar environmental health hazards in the future.