MAC: Mines and Communities

The following are three statements from different civil society organisations in the Philippines, a

Published by MAC on 2004-11-11

The following are three statements from different civil society organisations in the Philippines, all registering in different ways their opposition to the continued state promotion of mining to the detriment of the Filipino people and the environment.

A Statement Calling for the Scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the Rejection of the Mineral Action Plan of the Arroyo Government

NCCP Executive Committee

November 11, 2004

On March 3, 2005, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942 will have been in operation for ten years. One long decade of misery for indigenous peoples and communities gravely affected by the mining industry, which is, by and large, in the hands of foreign mining companies.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Financial and/or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) provision of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is unconstitutional. However, the Arroyo government has appealed this ruling. Moreover, President Arroyo has issued Memorandum Circular No. 67, "Directing the Operationalization of the Mineral Action Plan for Mineral Resources Development", and Executive Order 270 and 270-A, "National Policy Agenda on Revitalizing Mining in the Philippines". These memos basically lay out the major policy guidelines to "revitalize" the mining industry by giving more economic and political privileges to mining companies.

The Mineral Action Plan (MAP) effectively amended the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Mining Act to simplify and fast-track the procedures of processing mining applications and issuance of permits to mining companies. It also aims to harmonize conflicting laws towards the Mining Act and downgrade the authority of local government units.

The government has already set the MAP into motion, purportedly to help stave off the fiscal crisis. A concrete example is the operation of TVI Pacific Inc. in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte who bulldozed the tip of Mt. Canatuan, home to Subanons, to extract gold even with widespread opposition of the people and without the permit of the local government. Mining permits have been granted in Eastern and Western Samar in spite of a moratorium on mining by the provincial governments. The continued operation and expansion of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company even if the people of Mankayan, Benguet are united in opposition is another case.

These are dangerous developments. They show where the priorities of this present dispensation lie. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) affirms its stand against the liberalization of the country's mining industry by calling for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The Mining Act "has allowed the intensified extraction of our mineral resources endowed by the Almighty Creator"...and "violates the patrimony and sovereignty of the country with the expropriation of the people's land for foreign mining corporations and the 100% control of equity" ("Resolution on the Philippine Mining Act of 1995", NCCP Executive Committee, November 4, 1996). As such, the NCCP calls on its member churches and the general public to remain vigilant in pushing for the rejection of the MAP and to ensure that the Mining Act of 1995 is scrapped. We call on the Supreme Court to uphold the country's sovereignty and protect our national patrimony as it stands on its previous ruling regarding the unconstitutionality of the FTAA provision of the Mining Act.

We also call on our lawmakers to repeal this very destructive law. No amount of financial or fiscal crisis can justify the devastation of our God-given surroundings that is our legacy.

Let us support initiatives that will ensure a mining policy that is pro- people, and will protect the environment as well as push for the genuine development of the country. We have a responsibility to future generations.

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