MAC/20: Mines and Communities

The Peoples' Mineral Wealth is not for Sale! Philippines National Mineral Policy

Published by MAC on 2003-11-11

The following are three statements from different bodies, which although they approach the issue from different perspectives show the depth of feeling in the Philippines over the National Minerals Policy.

The Peoples' Mineral Wealth is not for Sale!

Press Statement: November 11, 2003

In a bid to revitalize the Philippine mining industry, the government is now aggressively promoting foreign direct investment in mining activities all over the country, under the National Minerals Policy (NMP). This policy framework for "sustainable and responsible mining" is an attempt by the government, the World Bank, and mining companies to gain public support for the all-out implementation of the Mining Act of 1995.

In fact, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to sign before the year ends an executive order for the implementation of the NMP as a signal to the international mining community of the government's commitment to the full liberalization of the mining industry which promises to be highly profitable for investors. Likewise, a national workshop on the NMP to be held on December 3-4, 2003 is designed by MGB, mining companies and the World Bank to generate a multi-stakeholders support to this policy.

The NMP for "sustainable and responsible mining" is nothing but a myth aimed at dousing cold water at the growing nationwide opposition to large-scale mining and the sell-out of the peoples' mineral resources to foreign investors. This corporate hype has already been used by multinational mining companies to promote their public image. But their pretentious claim has already been widely discredited as their destructive operations continue to wreck havoc on hundreds of communities worldwide. Yet they simply refuse to be made accountable and to respect the rights of affected communities.

Environmental catastrophes and peoples' resistance continue to hound multinational mining companies, inspite of their promotion of "best practices" and technological advancements. Claims of environmental protection and rehabilitation by the NMP do not provide any real solution to the inherent and environmental problems created by mountains of toxic waste generated by large scale corporate mining.

Clearly, there is no such thing as sustainable and responsible mining under corporate globalization, mainly driven by profit, and more profit. The Cordillera experience of a century of commercial mining did not lead to the development of the people, but resulted instead in environmental problems, loss of livelihood sources, and violations of their right over their ancestral lands and resources.

The imposition of large scale mining among indigenous territories is a form of national oppression and development aggression. Our resources are not for sale! It is our duty to protect them for the use of the future generation. While wealth can be found under the land, more wealth can be generated on the land which can sustain our people in the decades to come.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) rejects the NMP, and warns the President NOT to sign the executive order for its implementation. Surely, GMA will become more unpopular if she issues the NMP Executive Order as she is bound to reap the peoples' wrath come election time, with this anti- people policy. We call on the people not to be deceived by the NMP, and instead support the struggles of mining affected communities. This renewed assault on the peoples' resources must be stopped! It is our duty as citizens to protect our national patrimony and to persevere in the struggle for social justice, genuine development and peace.

Contact person;
Joan Carling, chairperson, CPA
Tel. Nos: 74-442-2115; 74-304-42-39

Scrap Republic Act 7942 or the New Mining Act of 1995
Reject National Minerals Policy!
Oppose Imperialist Globalisation!
Condemn and Oppose the Plunder of our National Patrimoney in the Guise of Development!

A Position Paper Prepared for the Purpose of the National Mining Conference on November 9-12, 2003

We strongly opposed the blatant effort of our government to pass into law the Philippine National Minerals Policy. We also invoke our staunch opposition on the continuing plunder of foreign mining companies to our natural resources, courtesy of Republic Act 7942 (The Philippine Mining Act of 1995)

Our rejection to the National Minerals Policy is anchored on the grounds that it will only worsen the environmental havoc brought by the infamous R.A. 7942. We are not supposed to forget the dreadful environmental disaster caused by foreign mining corporations like the Marcopper-Placer Dome in Marinduque, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation in Benguet and the Western Mining Corporation in the boundaries of Davao Sur, Bukidnon and North Cotabato. The horrendous events claimed the innocent lives of women and children. The irreversible damage to Boac and Maculapnit River in Marinduque, the irreparable destruction of Abra River and rainforest of Benguet, the devastation of the source of potable water of the residents of Davao Sur, Bukidnon and North Cotabato were only few of the very bad reputation of mining in the Philippines. We must bear in mind that the promises of economic development by transnational and multinational corporations are pure rhetoric and cannot, in any sense, pay for the damages they brought in our soil.

Our opposition to the enactment of the Philippine National Minerals Policy is our defense for further subjugation of our national patrimony in favor for the interest of the greed, blood-thirsty foreign mining companies. Since NMP will operate under the premise of the Philippine Mining Act that engineered in giving the mining MNCs and TNCs full control of our mineral resources. The NMP will pay homage to anti-people and anti- people development policies of the government.

From the draft provision of the NMP, basic flaws are gleaned and thus sprung our objection. First, on the issue of the environment protection rehabilitation which states that it is self-regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to the mining industry. This phrase denotes that our government, the DENR-MGB in particular had no authority to demand full and immediate remediation and rehabilitation of the damages they caused in previously mined sites and mining affected communities. The NMP does not provide clear policy on the urgent need for rehabilitation of abandoned and existing mineral sites. Corrective measures and responsibility for past mistakes and disasters caused by mining corporations like Marcopper-Placer dome Corporation and Lepanto Mining Corporation have to be stated for the NMP to be believable.

We are questioning the provision of NMP that allow the use of Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) as an alternative way of tailings management. If our mind serves us right, DSTP is just another name for Submarine Tailings Disposal System (STD) which has been banned by industrialized countries like Canada. STD/DSTP is proven to be very destructive to our ecosystem especially that our country has a very fragile ecosystem because of the past destruction.

The notion of Competitive and Prosperous Minerals Industry of the NMP is defective. In a developing country like ours, competitive mining industry is not appropriate. What the mining industry offers as a competitive minerals industry is limited to the extraction and the semi-processing of ores to supply the international market.

We can only be competitive if we first strengthen the country's economy by producing our own consumer goods, machineries and strengthen our agriculture. This is where the role of the mining industry should be defined. If the government ties itself in the policy of competing to supply the international market with raw and semi-processed mining products, full mature mining and minerals industry is a far-fetched reality for us.

It is clear that both R.A. 7942 and the NMP are not pro-people and pro-environment as the government and mining TNCs/MNCs claim to be. The NMP will only maintain if not to strengthen the domination of foreign mining companies over our mineral resources at the expense of our people, national patrimony and sovereignty.

Whatever sustainable development rhetoric and token environmental measures the NMP contains cannot hide the rottenness and bankruptcy of this national policy and no amount of development could quantify to irreversible damage it will surely bring. In summary, the main objective of the NMP is to perpetuate the extractive, profit-driven, import-dependent and export-oriented characteristics of the local mining industry.

In the spirit of genuine nationalism, we strongly invoke our stand and urge our national government to:

· Cancel all Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAAs), Mineral Production Sharing agreement (MPSAs), Exploration Permits (EPs), and other instruments, licenses, or contracts issued to foreign mining companies and their domestic counterparts in large mining.

If the DENR, MGB and the national government is true to its duty, a pro-environment and pro-people, they must immediately declare moratorium on the processing of large mining applications. If you value our national dignity and rich mineral heritage, you must hear the cry of the people especially the victims of the past mining disasters

· Scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and its Implementing Rules and
Regulation, Reject the National Minerals Policy and all anti-people mining laws.

Effect a moratorium on the opening of new large mines and the expansion of existing ones. A new mining law should be crafted within the framework of national industrialization and supportive of advancing agriculture in order to contribute to food, security, jobs and job security and just wages.

The new mining law must first and foremost be drafted under the premise of national patrimony and genuine national industrialization and national economic development based on a strong and stable agriculture. We reiterate our call to scrap the anti-people and anti-environment Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and immediately reject the National Minerals Policy! We stand by the pursuit of an alternative mineral policy that is anchored on a clear and independent blueprint for genuine people's development and national industrialization.

We would never wonder if despite the throngs of opposition, the DENR-MGB will recommend the passage of this policy and the President of the Republic will eventually sign this policy. This is not the first time that anti-people policies have been enacted. But as sovereign people, we will never let the foreign mining companies to orchestrate another thread of deception to our people and inflict destruction to our environment. We will strengthen our ranks to oppose and confront the implementation of this inhuman, anti-people and pro-capitalist national policy.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Puppet of the Foreign Large Scale Mining Companies!
Uphold and Protect the Right of the Indigenous People to their Ancentral Lands and to Self-Determination!
Uphold Our National Patrimony and Sovereignty!

Bayan Muna [People's Party]
Davao del Norte/Compostela Valley Province
Mt. Diwata Multi-Sectoral Coalition
Mt. Diwata, Monkayo, ComVal Province

Media Release

Civil Society Calls for GMA's Deferment of EO Legalizing the National Minerals Policy

In a consultation convened by the Civil Society Counterpart Council for Sustainable Development (CSCCSD) yesterday, 23 civil society groups including Indigenous Peoples (IPs), and Environmental NGOs strongly called for the deferment of the signing of a proposed Executive Order (EO) that provides a legal basis for the adoption of a National Minerals Policy (NMP).

The group declared that the current draft of both the proposed National Minerals Policy and the proposed Executive Order are severely flawed both in substance and process. While they acknowledged the efforts of trying to integrate several sustainability principles within the framework of the proposed NMP, it nonetheless still basically strengthens the National Mining Act of 1995 and they find no sufficient basis to show that it will be able to correct the infirmities of the Mining Act of 1995.

The collective position of the Group was for both documents to be subjected to wider public scrutiny and discussions, including the possibility of looking into strengthening, amending, or even totally redrafting them to be truly of greater significance and impact on the lives of the Filipino people as well as in the development of the nation and its economy.

In a letter addressed to Secretary Romulo Neri of the National Economic and Development Authority and also Chair of the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development ({PCSD), the Group asked for such deferment to allow PCSD, as an entire Council, to more fully and broadly consult various stakeholders and constituencies, including the Indigenous Peoples in affected (mining) communities to ensure that laws and policies of these comprehensiveness and strategic importance are compliant with the principles of sustainable development as provided for in existing development frameworks of the country.

In the meantime, the Group sees the need to open the NMP to some policy alternatives that would ensure its compliance with sustainable development principles, including among others, a) provision for a co-investment by government, private sector, and affected communities, as basic structure of development of mineral resources; b) provision for investments on developing mineral resources subject to limitations derived from the ecological, social, and cultural sensitivities and fragility of affected mineralized areas; c) limitations, if not abrogation of ancillary rights; and d) provision for national government and local governments with the participation of multistakeholder groups, to develop within a prescribed period, mechanisms for resolution of conflicts over mining and mining investments, and for interventions to reduce risks from mining activities based on the precautionary principles.

The Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is a multi-stakeholder council composed of government, non-government organizations, business and labor sectors, organized to monitor the implementation of the Philippine Agenda 21, the country's blueprint for sustainable development.

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