MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Unity statement against the National Minerals Policy in the Philippines

Published by MAC on 2003-11-13

Unity statement against the National Minerals Policy

13th November 2003

Endorsed by: Kalikasan-PNE, LRC, Tebtebba, CEC, KAMP, AGHAM, BAYAN, KMU, KMP, CPA, TAKDER, CCPC, KATRIBU

We, representing different non-government organizations of indigenous people, peasants, workers, women, lawyers, scientists, technologists and environmental activists, gather together on an issue that is of grave concern to our country, our people and our environment.

Despite the strong nationwide opposition to the liberalization of the mining industry, the present government is hell-bent to surrender the national patrimony by railroading its National Minerals Policy (NMP) and removing all legal impediments to the implementation of the heavily-criticized Philippine Mining Act of 1995. An Executive Order to put this in place will soon be signed by the president, signaling a more aggressive plunder and exploitation by local and foreign mining companies of the peoples' resources.

While President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to meet today with representatives of mining companies at the Manila Hotel to elicit support for these plans, notwithstanding her presidential ambitions, we come together to signify our unity against the NMP and another term for the anti-people and anti-environment Arroyo presidency.

The NMP is anti-people and anti-environment While the NMP is being touted to "promote sustainable and responsible mining" and mentions "transparency and multi-stakeholders participation," these are all but empty rhetorics.

The fact is that mining companies in the country continue to violate the rights of affected communities and cause irreversible destruction to the environment. Despite this, they are even being pampered and protected by the Arroyo government.

Betraying its hideous intent is the NMP's silence on just and proper compensation, rehabilitation and turn-over of lands to devastated communities. Further, it does not recognize at all the prior right of indigenous peoples over their ancestral lands., many of which are classified as mineral lands open for mining operations. It also masks the reality that the people are increasingly met with intensified militarization and human rights abuses to the point where mining operations can actually spell ethnocide.

The Regional Mining Workshops held in the past months were clearly called to give a semblance of multi-stakeholders' consultations on the National Minerals Policy. The fact remains that these workshops were hastily called, prevented greater NGO and public participation, and conducted in a manner that already presupposed acceptance of NMP.

The myth of self-regulation

The provision for "a self regulating minerals industry" flies in the face of continuing irresponsibility and unaccountability of mining corporations to adverse impacts of their operations. Any claim on "best practices" by mining corporations are all lies in the face of communities they have ravaged but gained huge profits. For all the cases of mining disasters over the years, is there any mining company to date that have really cleaned up the rivers, lakes, and ricefields that have been destroyed by their mine tailings?

In spite of this, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 guarantees so many incentives to mining companies, including tax holidays and capital repatriation. The NMP claims to promote the rights, interest and welfare of affected communities and national interest for the common good and for genuine development are mere lip service.

People's call: Oppose the NMP!

This deceptive maneuver of the national government for the total sell out of the peoples mineral resources should be met with more opposition and resistance at the local, regional and national levels. We shall continue to expose the true intent of mining companies and the national government of corporate globalization, and not people-centered national development and environmental protection. We should not be misled with all the rhetoric in the Executive Order and the NMP. Instead, we must persevere in strengthening the peoples' resistance and assert our democratic rights to protect the nation's patrimony.

We declare our opposition to President Macapagal Arroyo's quest to maintain herself in power beyond 2004. We will continue to expose and oppose her role in the anti-people laws and policies like the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the National Minerals Policy.

We firmly reiterate our call: Reject the National Minerals Policy and Scrap the Philippines Mining Act of 1995!

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