MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Is it the mandate of the DENR to act as the agent of the mining companies?

Published by MAC on 2004-02-11

Is it the mandate of the DENR to act as the agent of the mining companies?

Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment Press Statement

February 11, 2004

The Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment is aghast on the plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to file an appeal on the Supreme Court's (SC) decision declaring major provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 unconstitutional. The SC found that the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement of the Mining Act, which gives 100% ownership and full control to foreign corporation or individual over our mineral lands, violates our sovereignty.

The DENR plan to appeal was published in its website dated January 30, 2004. Should not the DENR leave this matter up to the mining companies whose interest are the ones to be affected by the SC decision? This decision will have a great impact on the interest and possible super profits of the big mining corporations on the mineral resources of the country.

The true mandate of the DENR as a government agency is to make sure that the Philippine environment is properly manage, wisely utilize and protected including its mineral resources for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos. They should not act as the mouthpiece of the transnational mining companies in the country!

In fact, the DENR should be the first to hail the SC for this positive development because it will help a lot on their task in the restoration and rehabilitation of the environment. The declaration is a victory to the long struggle of the Filipino people against destructive mining operations in the country and should not be interpreted as a big loss as claimed by Mines and Geo-science Bureau (MGB) Director Horacio Ramos.

Considering the experiences of the communities affected by the mining operation, the latter hardly benefited from the mining operation. They only become vulnerable or become victims of mining accidents such as the case of tailings dam spill of Placerdome-Marcopper that up to now still beleaguers the people of Marinduque. This happen while big mining companies reap big profits from exporting minerals or semi-processed ores out of the country.

It is a pity that after more than a century of mining in our mineral-rich country, it has remained backward and a mere importer of machines and technology, in spite of centuries of promises of development? Until when will government and the DENR allow this to happen and kowtow to World Bank extractive industry policy impositions? Why can the government not chart and implement a patriotic program where it can assure that every mineral that will be drawn out from our mountains will surely redound to the people's benefit?

The DENR's decision to file an appeal to the SC ruling only exposes the pro mining Transnational Corporation's position of the current administration. This election time, we dare the presidentiables in the opposition to bring in changes not only at the DENR but in the governing policies for development and the environment. Put forth an economic platform that will prove your genuine concern for the country and the environment.

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