MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippine church leaders, environmentalists against government removal of mining ban

Published by MAC on 2021-04-27
Source: Bulatlat.com, Mindanews, Vatican News, ICN

Unsustainable, destructive and extremely detrimental to Filipino communities in the peripheries.

Environmental, religious and progressive groups criticized the Duterte administration recent EO 130 order lifting a nine year moratorium on new mineral agreements.

Fr. Jerome Millan, Social Action Center director of the Diocese of Marbel, said EO 130  could pave the way for Sagittarius Mines to proceed with the Tampakan project, one of the largest copper projects in Southeast Asia.

Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, the national director of Caritas Philippines, denounced the government move saying, “The decision will only favour business interests, not the people, especially the poor and marginalized communities.”

Bayan Muna’s Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a Manobo from Surigao del Sur, said lifting the moratorium will exacerbate environmental and economic crisis. Cullamat noted that unless there are changes in the policies on mining in the  country, it cannot help the economy recover.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose Cabantan warned “we will be facing another kind of threat to life and environment by the lifting of the ban.”

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, who leads of Eco-Convergence Hub in the Visayas, reiterated their stance against the proposed coal mining in Negros Occidental province. “We challenge our government officials, to restore the dignity of your office by siding with our people and the ecology. Let your legacy be in the defense of ecology and justice,” he said.

In Davao City, Atty. Mark Peñalver, Executive Director of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), said the lifting of the moratorium “goes against the very mandate of our Constitution that the State should protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

See also:

2021-04-18 Philippines lifts ban on new mines
2021-02-16 Philippines: Groups oppose offshore mining in Cagayan
2020-12-15 Philippines: Opposition to Presidential order to negotiate OceanaGold's license renewal

On Earth Day, environmental groups decry foreign plunder of mineral and marine resources

Dawn Cecilia Peña

Bulatlat.com https://www.bulatlat.com/2021/04/22/on-earth-day-environmental-groups-decry-foreign-plunder-of-mineral-and-marine-resources/

22 April 2021

MANILA – Environmental and progressive groups criticized the Duterte administration for allowing the foreign plunder of the country’s mineral and marine resources.

The groups are referring to President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent order lifting the moratorium on new mineral agreements, which would give way to at least 291 existing mining applications, and pronouncement allowing China’s intrusion in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Center for Environment Concerns- Philippines (CEC) cited that large-scale mining as one of the biggest blows to the efforts to preserve the country’s natural resources.

“It’s very ironic that the President still agreed to lift the moratorium, considering that mining is one of the causes of massive flooding damages from typhoons Rolly and Ulysses,” CEC Executive Director Lia Mai Torres.

The group estimated that mining and other destructive activities touted as ‘economic recovery’ will cost the country a minimum P680 billion ($14 billion) ecological deficit.

CEC noted that the mining industry, on average, has generated mining revenues equivalent to 10 percent of total mineral production value.

“With government pronouncements that the influx of 100 new projects would generate P21 billion ($433 million) worth of revenue, it is estimated that this will cost around P210 billion ($4.3 billion) worth of minerals that will be shipped offshore instead of circulated in the domestic economy,” CEC said.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), meanwhile, warned that the lifting of the ban on new mining permits “can bring about massive ecological destruction and will greatly impact the health of our people especially at this time when we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.”

The NCCP added that large-scale mining has also left many affected communities impoverished, vulnerable, and displaced especially among indigenous peoples since the majority of mining areas are in ancestral domains.
 
“Massive human rights violations are also consequences of mining as the police and military become investment defense forces to protect the mining companies’ interests. Many of our land and environmental defenders are under attack as they put their lives on the line for a safe and healthy environment,” said the group in a statement.
 
Last year, the Philippines was declared as the second deadliest country in the world for land and environmental defenders by international investigative organization Global Witness.

Destruction of marine resources
 
Meanwhile, militant fisher’s group PAMALAKAYA called on the President to remind him that he is mandated to protect marine and fishery resources.
 
“Mr. Duterte’s recent pronouncement runs contrary to the provision of the Constitution on the national patrimony. Oil, mineral, and fishery resources amount to equal value that should be protected and utilized exclusively for the Filipinos,” said PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap.
 
Hicap was pertaining to Duterte’s approval of “Chinese plunder of fishery resources” in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
 
Based on data from scientist group AGHAM, reclamation sites of China amounting to 62-square miles destroyed coral reefs that caused the country to lose P1.3 trillion ($26.8 billion) annually.
 
Data from AGHAM also show that the entire West Philippine Sea, which covers the Kalayaan Group of Islands in Spratlys and the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), could contribute two to five-percent of the domestic total marine capture fisheries output.

The group called on the state to protect the nation’s marine wealth, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

“The irony on this year’s Earth Day is that the Philippine President is obviously on the camp of those who want to destroy the planet. Moreover, dereliction of the state’s duty to protect and utilize what is rightfully ours is tantamount to treason of the constitution and the Filipinos,” Hicap said.


Lifting mining moratorium ‘short-sighted,’ says South Cotabato bishop

Bong S. Sarmiento

Inquirer Mindanao https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1422662/lifting-mining-moratorium-short-sighted-says-south-cotabato-bishop

April 22, 2021

KORONADAL CITY—The head of the Catholic Church in South Cotabato, where Southeast Asia’s largest known copper and gold reserve is located, assailed as “short-sighted” the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to lift a moratorium on mining to help revive the economy.

Marbel Bishop Cerilo Casicas said Duterte’s Executive Order No. 130 weighed heavy on economic reasons but was short on concern for the environment.

“This is a short-sighted solution,” Casicas said.

“A healthy Earth is not an option, it is a necessity,” he said at a press conference to mark Earth Day on Thursday (April 22).

EO No. 130 lifted the nine-year ban on new mining contracts in the government’s bid to generate revenue to keep the Philippine economy from sinking as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Marbel diocese is a staunch opponent of the Tampakan copper and gold project which planned to use open-pit method to extract an estimated 15 million tons of copper and 498 million grams of gold buried near the earth surface.

The project was estimated to generate $5.9 billion in mining revenue if fully operational.

EO No. 130, Casicas said, could expose other ecologically fragile areas of the country to environmental threats.

“To be sure, there have been a plethora of studies about the ill impacts of open-pit mining on people’s health and the environment, which far outweigh whatever economic benefits open-pit mining claims to provide,” Casicas said at his press conference.

Lawyer Noel Ben, director of the Notre Dame of Marbel University’s Legal Aide and Community Extension Services, said Duterte’s EO No. 130 can be challenged in court.

While the President has the power to issue executive orders, this can be challenged in court if it ran counter to public welfare, said Ben, also representative of the civil society group NDMU Marist Hope Center for Justice and Good Governance.

Challenging EO No. 130 is a bold step that will require consultations with various stakeholders in the Marbel diocese, said Ben.

He said his group would carefully study this option and make the next move public.

According to Ben, EO No. 130 focused largely on the economy and not the environment when there was a need to strike a balance between the two.


Philippine Church decries government lifting ban on mining

Caritas Philippines and several bishops are decrying the lifting of the moratorium on mining in the country, saying it will have a “devastating effect on marginalized communities”.

Robin Gomes

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2021-04/philippines-caritas-bishops-against-lifting-ban-mining.html

21 April 2021

Caritas Philippines, the social arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), as well as several bishops have criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to lift a nine-year moratorium on new mining deals.  They say the move will likely have a catastrophic effect on poor and marginalized communities.

Duterte signed an Executive Order on April 14, lifting a 9-year moratorium on new mining deals imposed in 2012 by former President Benigno Aquino III, who called on government authorities to check and renegotiate contracts with mining firms in cases of environmental abuse. Aquino’s moratorium also provided a respite to the environment to regenerate its depleting flora and fauna.

The moratorium had been imposed while the government worked on legislation to boost the state's share of mining revenues. Since 2018, the excise tax on minerals has doubled to 4%. The Philippines became the top supplier of nickel ore to China and a major producer of copper and gold after Indonesia banned exports of unprocessed ore.

Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque explained that the nation is expecting about US$4 billion in capital investments from three major mining projects.  They are expected to generate $800 million in local taxes and $400 million worth of social development projects. He told the Business World newspaper that indigenous groups are also expected to benefit with around $310,000 in royalties from the major mining projects.

Profit vs people’s welfare

Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, the national director of Caritas Philippines, denounced Duterte’s move saying, “The decision will only favour business interests, not the people, especially the poor and marginalized communities.”  “The government has once again chosen vested interests and profit over suffering people and the ecology,” he said in a statement at the weekend.  “The government must reconsider lifting the mining moratorium. We are in the countryside, and we are seeing no economic improvement in the lives of the people from mining,” he said.

Mining is a highly contentious issue in the Philippines after past cases of environmental mismanagement fuelled a strong lobby against the industry led by local governments, legislators, advocacy groups, anti-mining activists and the Catholic church.

The Philippine Catholic Church and numerous civil society groups have entered into a partnership dubbed Eco-Convergence to promote the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ on the care of ‘our common home’, the earth.  Several Philippine bishops have reiterated the position of Caritas Philippines.

Bishops raise voices

Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao, who leads the Caritas’ Eco-Convergence Hub in Luzon, said that the off-shore mining in Cagayan province, which was devastated by massive flooding in 2020, is likely to bring more harm than good once it will be fully operational.  “The magnetite mining,” he said, “is projected to exacerbate flooding, and cause massive erosion in coastal and near shore areas, which might again cause the loss of lives.” he said.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, who leads of Eco-Convergence Hub in the Visayas, reiterated their stance against the proposed coal mining in Negros Occidental province. “We challenge our government officials, to restore the dignity of your office by siding with our people and the ecology. Let your legacy be in the defense of ecology and justice,” he said.

According to Bishop Allan Casicas of Marbel who heads Eco-Convergence Hub down south, while the Tampakan mines in South Cotabato might garner billions of dollars in export earnings along with two other mining operations in Mindanao, it will also exponentially destroy the Mindanao River Basin and severely affect nine provinces with more than 3.5 million population.

“The Catholic Church, through Caritas Philippines, the Eco-Convergence and the CBCP National Laudato si’ Program strongly enjoin President Duterte to reconsider the lifting of the mining moratorium,” Bishop Bagaforo said.

Harm to communities and environment

“The Catholic Church, through Caritas Philippines, the Eco-Convergence and the CBCP National Laudato si’ Programme,” Bishop Bagaforo said, “strongly enjoin President Duterte to reconsider the lifting of the mining moratorium.”  He said the government’s decision, which “is a sign of desperation to solve the ginormous economic gap caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” is unsustainable, destructive and extremely detrimental to the Filipino communities in the peripheries, and the Philippine ecology.  He pointed to the provinces of Marinduque and Albay provinces, saying the mining companies have left but “the ill-effects to the local ecosystems still threaten communities who gained nothing from the operations”.

Ahead of Earth Day, April 22, dioceses in coal-affected provinces of Quezon and Negros urged Philippines banks to withdraw their financial support to the coal industry by simultaneously displaying banners calling on them to ‘Restore our Earth’, which is the theme of this year’s Earth Day.


Philippines: Churches protest as government lifts mining ban

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/42037

Apr 21, 2021

Ahead of Earth Day, Caritas Philippines, together with several bishops and their dioceses have expressed their concern at President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to lift a nine-year moratorium on new mining deals. They warn that the move could have a catastrophic effect on poor and marginalized communities.

Duterte signed an Executive Order on 14 April, lifting a nine-year moratorium on new mining deals imposed in 2012 by former President Benigno Aquino III, who called on government authorities to check and renegotiate contracts with mining firms in cases of environmental abuse. Aquino's moratorium also provided a respite to the environment to regenerate its depleting flora and fauna.

The moratorium had been imposed while the government worked on legislation to boost the state's share of mining revenues. Since 2018, the excise tax on minerals has doubled to 4%. The Philippines became the top supplier of nickel ore to China and a major producer of copper and gold after Indonesia banned exports of unprocessed ore.

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque explained that the nation said is expecting about US$4 billion in capital investments from three major mining projects. They are expected to generate $800 million in local taxes and $400 million worth of social development projects. He told the Business World newspaper that indigenous groups are also expected to benefit with around $310,000 in royalties from the major mining projects.

Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, national director of Caritas Philippines, denounced Duterte's move saying: "The decision will only favour business interests, not the people, especially the poor and marginalized communities." "The government has once again chose vested interests and profit over suffering people and the ecology," he said in a statement at the weekend. "The government must reconsider lifting the mining moratorium. We are in the countryside, and we are seeing no economic improvement in the lives of the people from mining," he said.

Mining is a highly contentious issue in the Philippines after past cases of environmental mismanagement fuelled a strong lobby against the industry led by local governments, legislators, advocacy groups, anti-mining activists and the Catholic church.

The Philippine Catholic Church and numerous civil society groups have entered into a partnership dubbed Eco-Convergence to promote the teachings of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si' on the care of 'our common home', the earth. Several Philippine bishops have reiterated the position of Caritas Philippines.

Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao, who leads the Caritas' Eco-Convergence Hub in Luzon, said that the off-shore mining in Cagayan province, which was devastated by massive flooding in 2020, is likely to bring more harm than good once it will be fully operational. "The magnetite mining," he said, "is projected to exacerbate flooding, and cause massive erosion in coastal and near shore areas, which might again cause the loss of lives." he said.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, who leads of Eco-Convergence Hub in the Visayas, reiterated their stance against the proposed coal mining in Negros Occidental province. "We challenge our government officials, to restore the dignity of your office by siding with our people and the ecology. Let your legacy be in the defense of ecology and justice," he said.

According to Bishop Allan Casicas of Marbel who heads Eco-Convergence Hub down south, while the Tampakan mines in South Cotabato might garner billions of dollars in export earnings along with two other mining operations in Mindanao, it will also exponentially destroy the Mindanao River Basin and severely affect nine provinces with more than 3.5 million population.

"The Catholic Church, through Caritas Philippines, the Eco-Convergence and the CBCP National Laudato si' Program strongly enjoin President Duterte to reconsider the lifting of the mining moratorium," Bishop Bagaforo said.

"The Catholic Church, through Caritas Philippines, the Eco-Convergence and the CBCP National Laudato si' Programme," Bishop Bagaforo said, "strongly urge President Duterte to reconsider the lifting of the mining moratorium."

He said the government's decision, which "is a sign of desperation to solve the enormous economic gap caused by the Covid-19 pandemic," is unsustainable, destructive and extremely detrimental to the Filipino communities in the peripheries, and the Philippine ecology. He pointed to the provinces of Marinduque and Albay provinces, saying the mining companies have left but "the ill-effects to the local ecosystems still threaten communities who gained nothing from the operations".

Ahead of Earth Day, April 22, dioceses in coal-affected provinces of Quezon and Negros urged Philippines banks to withdraw their financial support to the coal industry by simultaneously displaying banners calling on them to 'Restore our Earth', which is the theme of this year's Earth Day.


Environmentalists, church leaders to Duterte: EO 130 will bring more death and destruction in Mindanao

Carolyn O. Arguillas

MindaNews https://www.mindanews.com/environment/2021/04/environmentalists-church-leaders-to-duterte-eo-130-will-bring-more-death-and-destruction-in-mindanao/

20 April 2021

DAVAO CITY –  Alarmed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s lifting of the nearly nine-year moratorium on the grant of new mineral agreements, environmentalists and church leaders urged him to reconsider the order as they expressed fear it would spell more death among farmers and fisherfolk, and further destroy Mindanao’s environment.

Executive Order 130  lifted the ban as this would allegedly usher in “significant economic benefits to the country” and support the ‘build, build, build’ and ‘Balik Probinsya’ programs of Duterte whose six-year term ends on June 30, 2022.

“The Catholic Church, through Caritas Philippines, the Eco-Convergence and the CBCP National Laudato Si Program strongly enjoin President Duterte to reconsider the lifting of the mining moratorium,” said Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, chair of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace, and National Director of Caritas Philippines.

A press release from Caritas Philippines also quoted Bagaforo as saying the lifting of the ban “is a sign of desperation to solve the ginormous economic gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” but is “unsustainable, destructive and extremely detrimental to the Filipino communities in the peripheries, and the Philippine ecology.”

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose Cabantan warned “we will be facing another kind of threat to life and environment by the lifting of the ban.”

He cited, among others, the case of  the Tampakan mining project in South Cotabato which is being opposed by the Diocese of Marbel.

“They really vehemently oppose mining in the area for the sake of the environment and the people, not just the residents there but those who will be affected by its destruction,” the Archbishop said. The EO, he added, “may create more ecological problems and human suffering.”

Fr. Jerome Millan, Social Action Center director of the Diocese of Marbel, said EO 130  could pave the way for Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) to proceed with its mammoth $5.9 billion Tampakan project,  Southeast Asia’s largest known undeveloped copper and gold minefield.

“(This) is a very sad development for us who are working to stop the Tampakan project,” he told MindaNews.

“They’re spoiling the land, they’re destroying Mindanao”

In the early days of his Presidency in 2016, Duterte warned large-scale mining firms, mostly based in Metro Manila but operating in Mindanao, to stop what he said were “destructive” practices because “they’re spoiling the land, they’re destroying Mindanao.”

In his thanksgiving party at the Crocodile Park in Davao City on June 4, 2016, Duterte said he preferred small-scale miners, banding into a cooperative, to operate the mines “and we will just support them and give it to them and give them instructions on how not to end up spoiling the land natin dito.”

He also repeatedly said he was against open pit mining, the method SMI intends to employ to extract gold and copper in Tampakan.

SMI’s environmental clearance certificate (ECC) was canceled by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on February 4, 2017 but the Office of the President restored it on May 6, 2019 without the public knowing.  South Cotabato reporters learned about it 14 months later, during a briefing by  Omar Saikol, head of Region 12’s Environmental Management Bureau, on July 9, 2020.

Saikol said they were not informed, too, on the restoration of the ECC and learned about it only when they inquired on the status of SMI’s ECC.

Last month, the local government of Tampakan urged the provincial legislature to lift the ban on open-pit mining.

More flash floods, more deaths

Emma Hotchkiss, president of the CanCarMadCarLan Baywatch Foundation, Inc, in Surigao del Sur, anticipates more flash floods and a higher death toll with EO 130.

“We have been experiencing flash floods full of silt for the past three years. Our farms have been experiencing lower yields. Two mining companies’ expired permits have been extended without stakeholders’ consent. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), failed to protect our rights granted to us by our Constitution. Allowing the mining companies to operate illegally is a criminal act,” she told MindaNews.

Hotchkiss said  miners “must have been anticipating this EO since our forest have been filling up with Exploration Permit Applications as shown in the MGB Tenement Map dated February 2021.”

EO 79, EO 130

Signed on April 14 and copies released on April 15, EO 130 lifted Section 4 of EO 79 which imposed in 2012 a moratorium on the grant of new mineral agreements.

President Benigno Aquino III signed EO 79 on July 6, 2012 “institutionalizing and implementing reforms in the Philippine mining sector,” including a moratorium on the grant of new mineral agreements “until a legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect.”

According to Duterte’s EO 130,  Section 48 of RA 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act doubled the rate of excise tax on minerals, mineral products, and quarry resources from 2% to 4%.

The EO said the DENR had conducted a “thorough review of the regulatory framework of the mining industry and has in place additional rules, regulations, and policies providing for and enhancing environmental safeguards to ensure that mining operations observe environmental protection.”

The EO also said the country has tapped “less than 5% of its mineral resources endowment to date” and that in addition to “ushering significant economic benefits to the country,” the mining industry can support government projects, such as the Build, Build, Build Program, by providing raw materials for the construction and development of other industries; and the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa program, by increasing employment opportunities in remote rural areas where there are mining activities, thereby stimulating countryside development.”

Copies of Duterte’s EO 130 were released on April 15, a full week before Earth Day on April 22, whose theme this year is “Restore Our Earth.”

‘No economic improvement’

“We are in the countryside, and we are seeing no economic improvement in the lives of the people from mining. The government has again chosen vested interests and profit over our suffering people and ecology,” Caritas Philippines quoted Bishop Bagaforo as saying.

Caritas also quoted South Cotabato Bishop Allan Casicas of the Diocese of Marbel as saying that while the Tampakan mining can potentially generate billions of export earnings, “it will also exponentially destroy the Mindanao River Basin which will severely affect nine provinces equivalent to more than 3.5 million population.”

“Environmental Trojan horse”

Dr. Jean Lindo, Secretary-General of Panalipdan Mindanao, described EO 130 as “an environmental Trojan horse.”

“What a gift to give this coming Earth Day. It is both ecocidal and ethnocidal, she said.

“While resource-scarce countries have demonstrated economic advancement that puts people in the equation of development, we are going the direction incompatible with sustainable and inclusive development. Now I am beginning to understand what ‘resource curse’ means.”

Lindo said claims of “responsible mining” are “just greenwashing.”

“How can it be responsible when mining makes the communities more vulnerable to flooding? How can it be responsible when the implication is for communities to drink poisoned water?  How can it be responsible when this means death to environmental defenders and the indigenous and peasant sector?,” she asked.

Anti-poor

Fr. Raymond Ambray, Convener of Save Our Surigao Movement and spokesperson of CaragaWatch, said Duterte’s EO 130 is “a classic act of this administration’s sense of priority.”

“Instead of addressing the pandemic squarely, including its economic resuscitation, the Duterte regime focused on a feigned and corrupt attempt to boost the economy under the pretense of its build, build, build program” and this lifting of the moratorium.

Ambray said the mining industry is “pro-capitalist and consequently anti-poor.” He cited Surigao del Sur  where “our farmers suffer greatly in their produce due to the degradation of land … fisherfolk in mining areas lost half of their catch due to siltation caused by mining and Lumads (Indigenous Peoples or IPs)  are often displaced due to the mining operations that spawned the insurgency.

Ambray said the pandemic is “the worst of our time and yet the President’s decision has worsened it all the more” because with the lifting of the moratorium, “it means more arable lands will be destroyed, more fishing sanctuary will be inundated, and more problems to come to the people whose livelihood depends on natural environment. Hence, there will be an exacerbation of future calamity of food shortage and resource war.”

“Rape of Mother Nature”

Bayan Muna’s Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a Manobo from Surigao del Sur, said lifting the moratorium will exacerbate environmental and economic crisis.

Cullamat noted that unless there are changes in the policies on mining in the  country, it cannot help the economy recover. She said the meager royalties are “not enough to compensate for the extraction of tons of  minerals from our land, the poisoning of the waterways and the seas from the waste tailings, the loss of livelihood and homes in the mining areas.”

Cullamat said the Mining Act of 1995 is 26 years old but it has not made the communities near the mine sites prosper. Instead, life has become more difficult for farmers and Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

She said Duterte’s “regalo” (gift) on Earth Day is “kalapastangan sa inang kalikasan”  (rape of Mother Nature).

No prior consultations

In a statement, Bantay Kita, a Quezon City-based coalition of civil society organizations advocating ‚Äčtransparency and accountability in the extractive industry, said it is “greatly dismayed and disheartened” because EO 130 took many stakeholders “by surprise and to our knowledge was issued without prior consultation with relevant stakeholders.”

The group said citing the increase in excise tax from 2% to 4% under the TRAIN law to justify lifting the moratorium is “not the type of rationalization of existing revenue sharing schemes” contemplated by EO 79.

“Reforms in the fiscal regime of mining such as an increase in mineral royalty payments, the imposition of windfall gain tax, and the scrapping of unnecessary incentives should be enacted for a more fair economic contribution from the extractive industry” before even considering the lifting of the ban, Bantay Kita said, adding reforms in the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 are urgently needed to ensure “proper management and governance of our mineral resources, address social justice and environmental mining issues, and fully respect the rights of local communities, indigenous peoples, and local government units to approve or disapprove mineral extraction.”

The group also called on the DENR and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to conduct a comprehensive review of existing mining contracts and agreements and that the review “should include genuine stakeholder consultations with local government units and mining-affected communities.”

It also urged the Department of Finance and DENR to “actively support legislation rationalizing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms that are fair and equitable, considering the one-time nature of mineral resource extraction” and called on President Duterte to “reconsider EO 130 and declare as urgent reforms in the mining fiscal regime to ensure a more equitable, transparent, and fair revenue sharing scheme and mechanisms.”

Sustainable development

In Davao City, Atty. Mark Peñalver, Executive Director of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), said the lifting of the moratorium “goes against the very mandate of our Constitution that the State should protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

He noted that one of the justifications for the ban is that it can support the “build, build, build” program of the government but “this does not agree with the development direction that we should be taking, i.e. sustainable development. We cannot just promote economic prosperity at the expense of our environment and our people.”

“You cannot expect a sustained economic prosperity if our environment is destroyed or left behind. Sustainable development requires the nexus of economics and environmental protection,” he said.

Peñalver also cited the Mining Industry Statistics released by the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau on May 29, 2020 showing that the mining industry contributes less than 1% to the Philippine gross domestic product  and less than 1% to employment. 

(Carolyn O. Arguillas with reports from Bong Sarmiento and Antonio L. Colina IV)

 

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