MAC: Mines and Communities

Miners Say Gma Fails To Live Up To Vows And Cancel International Meeting

Published by MAC on 2006-09-12
Source: Tribune

Miners say GMA fails to live up to vows and cancel internactional meeting

By Ayen Infante, Tribune

12th September 2006

The local mining industry has decided to call off an international mining event that was set in Manila next month to save the Arroyo Administration from possible embarrassment.

In a letter to Malacañang, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines president Benjamin Philip Romualdez, cited several reasons the industry agreed to cancel an international mining conference and exhibition that was supposed to happen in Manila from Oct. 3 to 5.

Romualdez highlighted in his letter that the government has failed to deliver the promised policy reforms to make the industry globally competitive and stable.

He stressed "changes in policies have led mining companies to believe and confirm their early suspicions that investment policies in the Philippines are not stable and are heightened by high political risks".

Given the current state of the industry, Romualdez, in the same letter, explained "the postponement is a more prudent approach to take at this time. This decision was reached to shield your administration from operational and governance issues that will inevitably surface in an international conference and could reverberate in the global mining community".

"We would like first to contain and resolve these issues quietly and expeditiously with our partners in government and other stakeholders of the mining industry, just as we have done with the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) in June this year, after a series of dialogue and consultation, CBCP has toned down their stance and made a statement in media that they are not against mining per se but are for responsible mining," it added.

Romualdez said the Board's decision was based on policy-related issues which include changes in the investment incentives which are being pushed in the Senate indicating that since mining is a "resource seeking" and "market seeking" activity, it is not entitled to incentives; in spite of the Justice Department's opinion that local government units cannot enact ordinances that go against the Philippines Mining Act, resolutions banning mining in four provinces namely, Samar, Marinduque, Mindoro and Capiz have been passed and are being implemented; bills seeking to repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 are being deliberated in both houses of Congress without giving a chance for the law to be implemented; and the Minerals Development Council which had its first organizational meeting in January 2006 has not met to date.

It added the promised "one-stop-shop in the central and regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in coordination with relevant agencies involved in the processing of mining tenements is non-existent, and additional layers in tenement processing are being made contrary to Pres. Arroyo's policy of reducing red tape in government agencies; the streamlining of procedures in the grant of mining tenements that would reduce processing time from a best case of three years (with an average of five years) to seven months is not happening; and a moratorium on new mining tenements outside of the 24 priority projects was announced by the Office of the President.
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