MAC/20: Mines and Communities

The Unity Statement was drafted by the Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PN

Published by MAC on 2004-06-21


The Unity Statement was drafted by the Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), Haribon Foundation, Youth for Sustainable Devolopment Association (YSDA), Legal-Resource Center (LRC-KsK), Philippine Federation for Environmental Concerns (PFEC) and Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC). The Unity Statement is based on the critique and position of the group on the Draft Mineral Action Plan which is now being fast-tracked by the Arroyo's administration.

Aside form the group, Task Force Macalajar, AGHAM, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP) signified their support.

This is part of the collective efforts of various mining-affected commmunities, people's organizations, environment advocates and NGOs to oppose the government's continuing policy to sell out our mineral resources to foreign investors at the expense of the Filipino people and the environment.

The group is circulating the statement to gather signatures from other organizations. To signify your support please reply to this email and attached your name and organization. You can send your reply to kpne@edsamail.com.ph, advocacy@haribon.org.ph, lodelm@yahoo.com, rcabonegro@wwf.org.ph or cec@tri-isys.com.

Clemente G. Bautista
Kalikasan-PNE

People's Unity Statement on the Mineral Action Plan

June 21st 2004

Stop the Plunder of our Mineral Resources, Reject the Government's Mineral Action Plan!

The Arroyo administration stubbornly refuses to heed the people's protests on the aborted National Minerals Policy (NMP). It is again risking a major policy rift with the people. Last year, we made the people's position clear against liberalizing the mining industry by trashing the NMP. Now, the abhorrent policy is back with a draft Mineral Action Plan (MAP) that is a lot worse. MAP is a grand plan of the government to subvert the people's rights and abandon the welfare of our environment. It is a clear sell-out not only of our minerals but the mineral industry itself to foreign investors.

Even as we have grown tired of repeatedly pointing out the deficiencies and fundamental flaws of the government's mining agenda, we reiterate our common positions, to wit:

· We oppose the liberalization of the mining industry. Hidden behind the government's call, recognizing the "critical role" of investments in the minerals industry is a subliminal message that the country must fully liberalize the sector in order to attain goals of national development and poverty alleviation. In the nine-year implementation of the mining liberalization strategy, the minerals industry failed to develop; actually it further declined. This is not because of people's protests, as the industry accuses, but this is largely due to its historical dependence on the world market which has suffered from a severe slump in metal prices for the past decades. All these years, the government has allowed massive destruction and exploitation of our forest and mineral resources primarily to satisfy the profit-making appetites of a few local and transnational mining corporations.

· We resist the extractive, export-oriented and import-dependent nature of the minerals industry. We expect the government to develop the mining industry based on a strategic framework of national industrialization rather than a relentless exposure to the vagaries of the world market for minerals and metals. With a strategic plan for mineral and industrial development, extraction of mineral resources can be prioritized if not limited to our country's need for economic progress, thus, immediately minimizing destructive impacts. We similarly create more jobs in the long term. We cut back on mining for short-term goals of profit for local and TNC mining, of earning foreign exchange for our foreign debt, or of meeting the wayward demands of the world market. MAP's concession to the people's demands, with the phrases "value-adding" and the "development of downstream industries" leaves much to be heard. Without the explication of clear cut directions, it is patently lip-service. We are not satisfied with the MAP's phrasing of the development of downstream industries because, the whole policy framework of MAP is premised on " a policy shift from tolerance to promotion" of mining for the interest of investors and does not depart from the export orientation of the industry.

· We demand promotion and protection of our biodiversity. Nowhere is this recognized in the MAP, yet which is more important: the profits of mining TNCs or the rich but threatened Philippine biodiversity that sustains life and is indeed life itself?

Even as there exists a woeful gap between declared protected areas and equally critical but unprotected conservation and biodiversity areas, the MAP indifferently claims concern for "rapidly expanding NIPAS (National Integrated Protected Areas System) areas." As such, MAP would now allow mining industry stakeholders to take part in committees identifying protected areas, opening the doors to a dilution of the NIPAS goals of conserving important biodiversity areas in order to give way to mineral development.

Genuine economic growth cannot be achieved at the expense of a degraded ecosystem and irreversible biodiversity loss. Given our country's rich but threatened biodiversity, it is more to the national interest to preserve this richness than to prioritize revenue generation through mining projects.

· We want environmentally destructive mining technologies stopped. MAP feigns sustainability by stating that it will ensure the adoption of "efficient technologies" through the judicious extraction and optimum utilization of mineral resources. On the other hand, it remains silent about the present conditions that environmentally-destructive technologies like open-pit or strip mining and submarine tailings disposal systems are prevalent mainly because of the extractive nature of the industry that is profit-driven and have low priority to the environment. · We demand the protection and advancement of the rights of the people. MAP threatens to further subvert people's rights in an undisguised attempt to shortcut procedures, bypass local government units critical of mining projects and undermine whatever little legal safeguards left regarding the social acceptability of such projects. The "harmonization" of conflicting provision of other laws such as NIPAS and Local Government Code towards the Mining Act and "simplification" of the issuance of Free and Prior Informed Consent is an obvious step to fast track the approval of projects and entry of transnational mining companies in the communities. It is all the more dangerous considering how people in mining communities are also often coerced with threats and actual physical harm, even death, when opposing destructive mining projects.

· We demand that environmental justice be pursued. MAP falls short of making past errant mining companies pay for their environmental crimes, and instead only intends to implement stop-gap measures on critical mine sites, while proposing economic incentives schemes for companies to rehabilitate closed down mines. Worse, even as it is only now that the government is trying to identify policy options regarding abandoned mines, MAP appears more concerned with the "redevelopment" of such mines rather than correcting the damages to the environment and injustice on the people that the mining operations have caused.

These are but some of main assertions that we make on the government's moves to draw up a Mineral Action Plan. While we assert our concerns over another clearly objectionable government policy paper, we vow as well to continue educating and mobilizing our people on the need to scrap the E.O 270 and the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or R.A. 7942.

We reiterate our call to junk the Mineral Action Plan and for the executive government to uphold the Supreme Court decision, which ruled as unconstitutional Financial and/or Technical Assistance Agreements provision of the Mining Act of 1995.

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