Philippines "alternative mining" legislation proposedPublished by MAC on 2009-05-18
An "Alternative Mining Bill" has been filed by groups in the Philippines, led by the Legal Rights Natural Resources Centre, in a practical challenge to numerous problems created by the country's much-criticised, and World Bank-inspired, 1995 Mining Act.
Civil society challenges government promotion of mining with filing of new mining bill
Legal Rights Natural Resources Centre Press Release
13th May 2009
Quezon City, Philippines-Indigenous peoples representatives, environmentalists and Church leaders will bring their struggle against government's pro-mining policies to the legislative arena today as they file a proposal for a new mining law to replace the Mining Law of 1995 (R.A.7942).
"We must put an end to the continued plunder of our country's wealth under R.A. 7942 and the Arroyo government's aggressive promotion of mining. We are here today to show our all-out support for the Alternative Mining Bill (AMB)," Rovik Obanil of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources (LRC) said.
Obanil revealed that the proposed legislation was the result of extensive consultations among mining-affected communities as well as with experts on economics, governance, social sciences and geosciences.
"The Mining Law of 1995 was practically written by the mining industry. During legislative deliberations prior to it's passage, the legitimate concerns of the people with respect to environmental protection, human rights, ancestral domain and food security were brushed aside. It is no surprise therefore that in 14 years of implementation of this law, we have seen a pattern of abuse from Luzon all the way to Mindanao," Obanil argued.
"Minerals are a strategic resource which should be utilized in a judicious manner. If we are going to allow the mining of our mineral wealth, it should be done as part of a clear national development strategy which promotes the creation of downstream industries to maximize benefits for our people," Obanil said.
The current Mining Law according to LRC, merely promotes extraction of minerals for ex-port which means very few jobs are created and very little income is generated beyond the taxes mining companies pay.
"The time has come to say, ‘Enough!' to government's pro-mining policies that result in human rights violations and only endanger our food security. After two decades of the Mining Law, it is clear that it does not serve the interests of the country and results in continued marginalization of poor communities and indigenous peoples like us," Peter Duyapat, leader of the Didipio Earthsavers Movement (DESAMA) OF Nueva Vizcaya.
"We want to democratize decision-making with regard to the entry of mining in our areas. If any mining is to be done at all, it is people like us who will be affected who should make the decisions, not Malacañang," Timuay Lucenio Manda, of the Piksalabukan Gukom de Bayog (PGB) of Zambaonga del Sur said.
Supporters of the AMB staged a motorcade from the Quezon City Memorial Circle to the Sandiganbayan. They then marched to the House of Representatives to join the bills authors, representatives Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan of the Liberal Party, Lorenzo Tañada III, Walden Bello, Carlos Padilla and Rufus Rodriguez.
Reference: Rovik Santiago Obanil
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Centre
Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth, Philippines
THE MINING SITUATION IN THE PHILIPPINES : LIKE DIGGING OUR OWN GRAVE
Press Release from office of Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, Chairperson, Committee on Human Rights
13th May 2009
It is with great pride and renewed hope that I sponsor the proposed Alternative Mining Bill. In the nearly 15 years since the Mining Act was passed, it has become increasingly clear that our determined search for minerals has meant digging ourselves deeper and deeper into our own grave.
For all its purported benefits, the mining industry has cost us far more than its weight in gold: the human rights violations, the alienation of indigenous people and the environmental damage has poisoned our society and economy in much the same way as toxic mine tailings have seeped into our land and waters. Its measly 1.2% contribution to our GDP from 2001 to 2008, and an employment generation rate of only 0.5% last year, hardly make up for the $80 M cost for rehabilitating Marinduque alone. In our bid to attract investors in the industry, we have given tax breaks and various other incentives to multinational companies that have failed to translate into any real profit for either the national government or local communities. We have only allowed these companies to eat at our table without ever having to pay for it, or for that matter, give thanks.
While the present and past administrations have treated those losses as dirt off their shoulders our people continue to bear the brunt of years of faulty policy. 16 mining activists were reported killed last year by the Kalikasan People's Network. The Commission on Human Rights has observed that mining activities are considered legitimate cause for the internal displacement of persons. Further, the current policy that lays out 23 priority projects in mining will eat into 60% of our protected areas and 53% of the indigenous people's ancestral domain.
Unfortunately, the dismal human rights record can be directly attributed to the Mining Act, which does not include violations of human rights as ground for cancellation of permits or shutting down of operations. This allows them to operate with impunity, giving regard to none of the havoc they wreak on the land in which they operate or the community which so generously hosts their business at invaluable cost.
I think it is high time for us to correct the many unforgivable oversights in the present mining law. This in turn requires a drastic reassessment of the social, environmental and economic costs of mining. The proposed measure, which we call the Alternative Mining Bill, is a product of just such an endeavour. It puts human rights and the rights of indigenous people at the fore of its considerations. The interests of the people will come before the interests of the corporation. Any violation by mining companies will be held as legitimate cause for us to throw them out and hold them accountable. Its provisions on the "Free Prior Informed Consent" by the community will finally provide adequate standards for it to be truly called 'Consent', while the prohibition on hiring armed contingents to protect the companies' interests will be disallowed. They will also be required to give a bond, money that will ensure that in the event they pull an escape act, we will have something to fall back on. These are just a few examples of the socially and environmentally conscious provisions that have been written into the bill. On close perusal, you will find that the proposed measure is nothing short of a revolutionary overhaul of what has long been accepted as a defective law.
Creating a better policy on mining is going to take more than just passing a new law, it requires a realization on the part of government that the so-called profits from the industry are at best, an illusion and at worst, a lie. We need to stop glossing over the truth about mining and stop dreaming of its promises of profit.
Only a better law that faces up to the cold realities of the industry and sizes up the costs and benefits with a hard eye and a heavy hand will get us out of this self-imposed tomb. It will be slow and painful, but I am confident this proposed mining bill - a product of four years of hard work and research - will give us the breath of life we need to claw our way out.
Office of Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III
Chairperson, Committee on Human Rights
Northwing 409, House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax: 9316478 or 9315001 loc 7368 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reference: Rep. Erin Tañada - 09193688555
Media Officer: Laurice Ramos - 09228433311
ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS' STATEMENT ON THE ALTERNATIVE MINING BILL
We, the Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG), a coalition of twenty (20) legal-resource non-government organizations, express our support for the passage into law of the Alternative Mining Bill.
We are alarmed at the worsening state of mining practices in the country and the scale through which the government pushes for the revitalization of the mining industry.
We have witnessed the destructive effects of mining on human and other life forms - violations of peoples' rights, fish kill, environmental destruction, pollution, and effects on health including HIV and AIDS - which are glaringly illustrated in the cases of Canatuan in Zamboanga del Norte, in the communities in Benguet and in the wasted rivers of Marinduque;
We recognize that the destruction that mining causes do not only wreak havoc on our environment, but also cuts across the concerns of the various basic sectors whom we work with: the farmers, the fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, women and children, labor and the local governments;
We believe that there is a need to challenge the government's misrepresentations that mining is the solution to the economic and social woes of this country;
We believe that there is a need to challenge the government's misrepresentations regarding the benefits of mining, as well as the law and policy framework on which these premises were based.
We condemn and call for the scrapping of the oppressive Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act that threatens to displace communities from their lands and ancestral domains and that virtually allows full foreign ownership and control of our natural resources.
We condemn and call for the scrapping of the Mineral Action Plan of the current administration which seeks to facilitate the approval of all kinds of mining permit applications in the shortest time possible that threaten the human and resource tenure rights of the poor and marginalized communities we represent.
We commit to work for a democratic and consultative process to enact an alternative mining law that will work for and protect the interest of the poor and marginalized sectors that have long been ignored by the government.
We commit to contribute, as a coalition, what we can to uphold the rights of the poor and the marginalized, and achieve a more ecologically sound, gender-fair, equitable system of resource management in the country.
 The ALG is a coalition of twenty (20) legal-resource non-government organizations that work for justice system reforms and the empowerment of the poor and marginalized sectors in the country. ALG members: Albert Schweitzer Association Philippines, Inc. (ASAP); Alternative Law Research and Development Center (ALTERLAW); Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC); Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw (BALAOD-Mindanaw); Children's Legal Bureau (CLB); Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC); EnGendeRights, Inc. (ENGENDERIGHTS); Free Rehabilitation, Economic, Education and Legal Assistance Volunteers Association, Inc. (FREELAVA); Kaisahan tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN); Kanlungan Center Foundation, Inc. (KANLUNGAN); Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc. - Kasama sa Kalikasan - Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK-FOE); Tanggapang Panligal ng Katutubong Pilipino (PANLIPI); Paglilingkod Batas Pangkapatiran Foundation (PBPF); Pilipina Legal Resources Center (PLRC); Participatory Research Organization of Communities and Education Towards Struggle for Self-Reliance-Panay (PROCESS-Panay); Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN); Tanggol Kalikasan (TK); Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education (TEBTEBBA); Women's Legal Bureau (WLB); Women's Legal Education, Advocacy and Defense Foundation, Inc. (WOMENLEAD);
Alternative Mining Bill to be filed today
13th May 2009
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, -The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro convenes today (May 13) a forum "Discussion on Alternative Mining Bill" (AMB) at the Archbishop Patrick Cronin Hall in the compound of the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral.
The forum is being convened by the Archdiocesan Social Action Centre and the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Centre-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK/FoEP) as a parallel activity to the official filing today, May 13, of the Alternative Mining Bill at the House of Representatives by Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" R. Tañada III (Liberal Party, 4th District, Quezon) and AKBAYAN representative, Congresswoman Riza Hontiveros.
Social Action director Rev. Fr. Jose A. Cabantan called on the House of Representatives to support the passage of the AMB, saying "it is now time to scrap the RA 7942."
"The AMB aims to bring back the exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources within the framework of national development, the right of peoples to self determination, and respect for human rights and the environment," Cabantan said.
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D. also joined Cabantan's call, stressing that after fourteen years of the implementation of the Mining Act of 1995, no solid proof of progress especially in the sites of struggles (SOS, the term used to refer to communities in the mining areas) is evidenced.
"Fourteen years of the implementation of the Mining Act of 1995 had brought about the physical and economic dislocation of many indigenous peoples and other upland rural communities, as well as aggravated the already dire situation of our environment-by handing over our lands and mineral resources for corporate exploitation. All these, in exchange for a grossly disadvantageous amount from mining revenues," Ledesma said.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of this city's second congressional district had earlier signed the AMB as a sponsor. Also, Rep. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III of the third congressional district of Bukidnon has also expressed support to the AMB.
The AMB, according to LRC team leader for Cagayan de Oro City Carl Cesar C. Rebuta, is the product of years of consultations by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK/FoEP) and its partners in the Alternative law Groups (ALG) with different sectors of society in response to the damages wrought and posed by The Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942).
"The Alternative Mining Bill is dedicated to countless women and men who have risked, and those continuing to risk, their lives for genuine freedoms," he said.
According to Rebuta, "the time for change has come" and that the 1995 Mining Act must be repealed because of its many flaws such as
(1) It promotes the exportation of raw minerals without maximizing the benefits of such resources for the Filipino people;
(2) It fails to take into consideration externalities or negative impacts, thus leaving the masses and the local government units to bear the brunt of such impacts;
(3) It prioritizes exploration, development and utilization of resources over and above food security and environmental conservation;
(4) It grants too much power for decision-making to the President, when resources are the only heritage of the Filipino people, meanwhile disempowering local communities through lack of participatory mechanisms;
(5) The law is not consistent with sustainable development;
(6) It grants too many incentives for investments, including confidentiality of information, return of investments, tax-breaks, etc.;
(7) It lacks systems that would ensure payment and compensation of affected communities and local government units;
(8) It fails to provide for punishment and accountability on social impacts, including human rights violations;
(9) It fails to provide a rational and comprehensive benefit-sharing among the stakeholders;
(10) It fails to consider the physical characteristics of the Philippines that is not conducive to industries like these, despite claims that the Philippines has a rich mineral resource, when the country in fact is also a rich agricultural country; and
(11) It allows 100% ownership and control of natural resources to foreigners.
Before the forum, which will official start at 1:30 p.m. today, representatives of the different sites of struggles (SoS, the term used to refer to mining communities) in Mindanao are also holding a motorcade all over the city to gather support from different sectors for their struggles against mining operations and for the passage of the AMB.
The motorcade will pass through the Xavier University where a short program will be hosted by the XUCLA. It will then proceed to the BALAOD Mindanaw office where another short program will be done hosted by BALAOD and KAISAHAN. From there, the motorcade will join the forum at the Cronin Hall.
Afterwards, all forum participants will march to the nearby City Hall to present to Mayor Constantino Jaraula hundreds of signature expressing support to the AMB.
Fr. Cabantan called on all sector of society to support the AMB and to show this support to Congress for the immediate passage of the bill.
"The support of this campaign will not only strengthen the crusade in favour of the Alternative Mining Bill but also in support for the people who are adversely affected by mining operations," he said.
In 2002, the LRC and other opponents of the 1995 Mining Act, which incidentally is principally authored by President Arroyo when she was still a senator, convened at the historic Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City to discuss issues concerning mining in the country.
That discussion gave birth to the "Dapitan Initiative", a manifesto signed on October 11, 2002 expressing the policies and principles that should govern the mining industry.
The Dapitan Initiative expressed that the mining industry must
(1) uphold indigenous people's rights and achieve a more ecologically sound, gender-fair, equitable system of resource management;
(2) Everyone should share in the burden of satisfying resource needs primarily through re-using and recycling existing mineral products;
(3) In land and water use, the concerns of food security, which includes food free from pollution, livelihood production, ecological balance, equity, and social justice should always be the priority;
(4) Only resources that are necessary for domestic use and national industrialization should be utilized. We should develop our own human resources and encourage the evolution of our own appropriate technologies. Priority should be given to community-based, community-initiated and community-owned stewardship of resources;
(5) There should be no compromise on human rights, dignity and collective identities.
Also, advocates demanded for the
(1) immediate cancellation of all existing financial and technical assistance agreements (FTAAs), minerals production sharing agreements (MPSAs), exploration permits, and other mining agreements, licenses and other instruments because they are all based on a highly flawed system;
(2) scrapping of RA 7942 (Philippine Mining Act), RA 7076 (Small-scale Mining Act); PD 463, and all related laws that are oppressive to the people;
(3) moratorium on the issuance of large-scale mining permits, licenses, agreements and other instruments for one hundred years;
(4) Rehabilitation, restoration of mining areas and accountability of mining corporations for the destruction that they caused;
(5) Upholding workers' rights; and
(6) Prohibiting state and privately sponsored armed groups from areas where there are current and prospective mining operations.
Since that historic signing of the Dapitan Initiative, Rebuta said that various efforts were made to engage and challenge the government, the international finance corporations, the transnational mining corporations, the mining industry and other key players to expose the wrongs and failures of the law and the policy, their implementation and the practices involved in the mining industry.
And all these efforts now come to a head with the official filing of the Alternative Mining Bill in Congress today, May 13, 2009. (Bong D. Fabe)
Critics push alternative mining bill in Congress
14th May 2009
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 May) -- Critics of large scale mining have gone to the House of Representatives in their move to eliminate full foreign ownership of mining ventures in the country.
Erwin B. Quinones, of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Centre-Kasama sa Kalikasan- Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK-FoE Phils) that was tasked to draft the bill, said it was shaped over six years of consultations with various sectors.
Sponsored by Representatives Risa H. Baraquiel (Akbayan) and Lorenzo R. Tanada lll (Quezon, 4th District), the bill -- titled "An Act to Regulate the Rational Exploration, Development and Utilization of Mineral Resources, and to Ensure the Equitable Sharing of Benefits for the State, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, and for Other Purposes" -- is supposedly intended to replace Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Quinones said they are still looking for sponsors at the Senate.
The bill calls for the national government to have 10 percent of gross revenues aside from taxes, as a form of royalty fee.
The local government units, on the other hand, shall be entitled to a share of the net revenues paid directly to the provincial treasurer, taking into consideration the classification of the LGU as per vulnerability and human development index.
The bill proposes that indigenous people be given at least 10 percent of the gross revenue in royalty fees.
It is apparently is a far contrast from the current law.
Indigenous people are now receiving a royalty fee of at least one percent of gross revenues, while the government gets two percent excise tax from the gross revenue, said Constancio A. Paye, Jr., Central Mindanao director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
The alternative mining bill also proposes the removal of the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), which allows 100-percent ownership of mining ventures.
"Only Filipino citizens or corporations, 60% of whose equity is owned or controlled by Filipinos, are allowed to mine - to conduct development, utilization and processing of mineral resources in the Philippines ," a primer prepared by the Alyansa Tigil Mina said.
Sagittarius Mines, Inc., which is based in nearby Tampakan, South Cotabato , has been granted an FTAA by the government. The mining company is largely owned by Swiss miner Xstrata Copper through a 62.5% interest, Australian junior exploration firm Indophil Resources NL (34.23%) and Filipino conglomerate Alsons Corp. (3.27%).
The also bill also aims to decrease the maximum areas and term for mining contractors.
The maximum contract area for mining operations shall be limited to 500 hectares and the maximum term is 15 years, including five years for rehabilitation, according to the bill.
Paye said that based on the existing mining act, firms are allowed 81,000 hectares during exploration and a maximum of 5,000 hectares during production stage but subject to increase depending on the need.
He added that firms can have 25 years for production and can be extended for another 25 years. (MindaNews)