Philippines: Indigenous Groups Cry Foul On New Mining Executive Order
July 16, 2012 · , ATM Press Release. " Groups cry foul on new mining EO". July 11, 2012. http://indigenouspeoplesissues.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15645:philippines-indigenous-groups-cry-foul-on-new-mining-executive-order&catid=32&Itemid=65
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and its member groups gave the thumbs down to the new mining EO of the Aquino administration, stating that it is inadequate, unresponsive and misleading. They said that while Executive Order 79 appears to be addressing the major concerns of communities and civil society organizations, “many of these provisions in the EO are merely palliative, and worse, are not even applicable to the problematic mining projects”, said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina or ATM.
They also echoed the initial observations of many organizations that the EO is in fact, just continuing the misplaced policy of aggresively promoting mining for the benefit of the industry and does not address the substantial flaws in the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or RA 7942.
Garganera however, conceded that the EO does attempt to make the rights steps towards reforming the mining industry, citing the provisions on increased transparency, a system for review and monitoring of mining contracts and projects, and the identification of no-go zones. He lamented, however, that these reforms are shadowed by compromise text that says “all existing mining contracts and agreements are considered valid, binding and enforceable”, under Section 1 of the EO. ”We sincerely believe that DENR does not have the people, the expertise, the resources and the equipment to effectively enforce this EO, and so the policy is misleading as it gives a false sense of comfort that from now on, ‘all will be well’”, Garganera added.
“These are the reasons why we need a new mining law, and not only rely on this EO”, he concluded.
ATM also said that any increase in the revenue share of the government from the mining industry is still better than what the country is receiving right now but reaffirmed that the increase in excise tax from 2% to 7% is still irrelevant compared to the negative impacts of the industry to the communities and environment. Additionally, the EO did say that no new taxes can be implemented, without a new legislation.
Meanwhile, environmental groups and the Catholic Church were still alarmed that the EO only compliments the Mining Act of 1995.
Anabelle Plantilla, chief operating officer of Haribon Foundation said the mining EO already indicates that the government recognizes that something is wrong with the mining industry as it is driven by the flawed policy.
“The proof of the pie is in the eating, we have documented on how the Mining Act created a big rift in the protection of the environment and then we have another policy that yet again has weak provisions on the conservation of our forest and ecosystem. Do we need to eat this pie again?” Plantilla added.
Gerry Arances, Program Officer on Mining of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils) laments that the provision on local ordinances vis-à-vis the Constitution and national laws need not even be put in the EO on Mining, as this is already given in passing local ordinances. “The numerous LGUs, as exemplified by the South Cotabato provincial government, which issued a ban on open-pit mining, only exercise police power, and uphold the general welfare and right of their constituencies to a balanced and healthful ecology, and the well-being of its local territories and ecosystems, which are protected by the Constitution and other national laws as well,” Arances asserts.
Arances further adds, “What the provision on ‘consistency of local ordinances with the Constitution and national laws’ actually intends to do is to prevent other LGUs from following the footsteps of the numerous other LGUs that have issued local legislation and already stood up against minerals extraction in their respective territories, and protected the welfare of their peoples and communities. This administration wishes to send a strong message to the people and their local governments that it will still pursue its promotion of mineral extraction in the country, its business-as-usual framework, thus, continuing wanton destruction of our communities and the environment.”
LRC is the lead convener of SOS-YamangBayan Network, a national network pushing for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the immediate enactment of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).
Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops Conferences of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) believed the EO has surfaced the urgent need to pass a new minerals management law.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, secretary-general of CBCP-NASSA said, “We cannot accept a policy that only expands the destructive capacity of an existing law. We really thought that the EO will capitalize the need to promote social justice, human rights and the rights of the Indigenous Peoples.” Fr. Garuguez referred to EO 79 as a “kunswelo-de-bobo”. Gariguez added that the EO is another missed opportunity for P-Noy to prove that the Filipino people are really his bosses.
Last July 8, 72 bishops signed a statement calling for the passage of the AMMB, now tentatively titled as the Philippine Minerals Resources Act of 2012, pending at the House Committee of Natural Resources. The statement is expected to be sent officially to the Office of the President and to Congress this week.
“Indigenous peoples, farmers, fishermen, forest-dependents communities and many others are the ones directly affected by the mining industry; they are the ones who lose their homes, livelihood and even dignity and yet not single a provision in the EO guarantees their protection – human rights, needs-based and sustainable development are not fully addressed in the new policy,” Gariguez added.
Garganera also added that the EO failed to cut unfair incentives being provided to mining firms including a long tax holiday.
ATM asserted that the rationalization of the mining industry will be fully achieved only when the current law is abolished and Alternative Mineral Management Bill is enacted.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB.
For more information:
Fr Edu Gariguez, CBCP-NASSA Executive Secretary, 09198005595
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator – 09277617602
Farah Sevilla – firstname.lastname@example.org; 0915-3313361
Edel S. Garingan – email@example.com; 0922-8918972