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Network of Civil Society Organizations bare 6-point policy considerations for PNoy’s Executive Order on Mining

March 6, 2012 ·  , Philippine Misereor Partnership Press Release

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An indigenous man sets fire to an effigy of Philippine President Aquino during a protest against foreign mining corporations on the opening day of the national mining conference in Manila

An indigenous man sets fire to an effigy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino during a protest against foreign mining corporations on the opening day of the national mining conference in front of a hotel in Manila September 13, 2011. The protesters demanded for the mining act of 1995, which allows foreign mining corporations to own land in the Philippines, to be scrapped and for the passing of a new bill to ensure the mining industry is oriented towards domestic needs. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco (PHILIPPINES - Tags: BUSINESS CIVIL UNREST COMMODITIES POLITICS SOCIETY)

“Promulgate a new mining policy now”. This was the call made by the Philippine Misereor Partnership at the close of its 3 day General Assembly held in Baguio City.

The General Assembly attended by almost 300 participants comprising non-government organizations leaders, bishops, priests, nuns and leaders of people’s organizations and communities affected by mining operations made the call in anticipation of the new mining policy to be issued by President Aquino anytime this month .

Taking stock of the first hand experiences of its members and partner communities in mining affected areas in Rapu-rapu, Mindoro, Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales in Luzon, Kabangkalan and San Carlos in Negros, Manicani and Homonhon in Samar in the Visayas region and Surigao del Sur, Tampakan, South Cotabato and ZAMPEN peninsula (Zambo del Sur , ZDN, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga City) in Mindanao, PMPI called on President Aquino to rethink the current mining policy it has inherited from the previous administration “aggressively promoting mining as a key economic driver” the statement says.

“We should mine what we only need” declared PMPI in its 6-point mining policy agenda. The statement called on the PNoy Administration that “the economic argument for the aggressive promotion of mining is misplaced given its dismal contribution to our economy. We should identify strategic metals for our national development anchored on our agricultural development”.

“Sana ay manatiling tapat sa kanyang binitawang salita si Presidente Aquino- na tayong mga mamamayan , lalo na ang ordinaryong tao ay ang kanyang boss pagdating sa pagpapasya. Kaming mga Aeta ng Zambales at iba pang mga katutubong tribo ay nagnanais na sana ay mabigyan ng totoong puwang sa kanyang pamamahala ang aming kapakanan at kaunlaran. Yaon ay nasa agrikultura at wala sa mina.” ( We are counting on President Aquino to stay faithful to what he said when he declared that we, the ordinary people are his boss when it comes to decisions he has to make. We, the Aetas of Zambales and other indigenous tribes would like to appeal to the President to value and truly consider our well-being and development. It is in agriculture and not in mining ) quipped Carlito “Ka Carling” Dumulot of the Zambales-based LAKAS-BIHAWO, an Aeta people’s organization, and PMPI cluster point person for Central Luzon.

Apart from securing the national patrimony for the country’s own development, PMPI highlighted the need to protect and respect the “no-go zones”. It declared that “aside from the areas where mining should not be done under existing laws, no-go-zones for all forms of mining should also include the conflict areas, key-biodiversity areas, small-island ecosystem, and prime agricultural lands.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, PMPI Co-Convenor and Executive Secretary of CBCP-NASSA said, “as pointed out in these policy considerations, there is a need for greater accountability of mining corporations and access to justice of victims of corporate abuses. The respect, protect and remedy framework of the UN principle on business and human rights, to which the Philippine Government was one of the signatories is very clear on this.”

The PMPI statement expounds, “We think that a concrete operational mechanism of this duty is to shift the burden of proof to mining companies whenever any rights abuses or damage to the environment occurs. The extraction of minerals is undoubtedly imbued with public interest as it affect the lives of people and the environment. Given the asymmetry of information between corporations and communities affected by its operation and the great imbalance in resources and capacity by which information can be accessed, the shifting of the burden of proof to the corporations is by itself a concrete application of capacitating the victims of HR abuses committed by or as a consequence of business operations”

“PMPI run the risk of being accused or labelled as anti-development because of its anti-mining campaign. We think though that the responsible mining being peddled by big mining companies borders only on stakeholder ship – that is a claim based on interest or stake. Stewardship goes beyond interest. It is a duty and recognition that we are caretakers of the Creation for the present and future generation”, said Bishop Pabillo, PMPI Bishop Convenor and Chairman of the CBCP-ECSA-JP.

The statement also expressed “that responsible mining will not be possible in the present context due to regulatory capture, foreign ownership of mineral extraction, gross disregard for the FPIC process for the IPs, unchecked environmental crimes and disrespect for the socio-economic, cultural and political rights of mining-affected communities among others.”

Ms. Myrna Llanes, Alternate Point Person of PMPI-Bicol claimed that to date they have yet to get justice and see the mining corporations responsible for the Rapu-Rapu mining disaster being made accountable to what she calls as “environmental crimes.”

“For us the, the new mining policy in relation to the development of the mining industry should consider foremost the six points we have raised and agreed on as a network which is reflective of the views and stand of the mining affected communities and other stakeholders directly and indirectly affected by the mining issue and laws governing its conduct “ mused Marilou Llavan, the new Chairperson of PMPI and Co-convenor for Visayas.

PMPI partners in Zamboanga Peninsula who had recently embarked on a multi stakeholder campaign for watershed protection and management cited that twenty one watersheds in the region are already under threat of destruction by mining applications and permits that have been massively granted to various mining companies which includeTVIRD and Philex among the biggest. Citing an MGB data, Daniel Castillo, Executive director of the DIOPIM Commission on Mining Issues (DCMI) said , “ Almost half of the region’s total land area is already covered by 11 production sharing permits, 29 exploration permits and 2 Financial And Technical Assistance Agreements ( FTAA). Key biodiversity area such as Mt. Sugar Loaf, and major watershed such as Mt. Pinukis are exactly in the path of these mining applications and operations.

The Philippine Misereor Partnership is a network of 284 non-government organizations (NGOs), peoples organizations (POs) and Church groups in the Philippines together with Misereor – the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany. Comprised of fifteen (15) regional clusters: Six (6) from Luzon, Four (4) from Visayas and five (5) from Mindanao., member organizations are present and are pro-actively working with the most marginalized communities in the Philippines for the promotion of social justice and development issues

Contacts:

Yolanda R. Esguerra
National Coordinator, PMPI
09228501875

Atty. Mario E. Maderazo
Project Officer, Anti-Mining Campaign, PMPI
09154549263

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PROMULGATE A NEW MINING POLICY EACH ONE CAN CALL “mine”

(A PMPI Statement on the proposed Executive Order on Mining during its 4th General Assembly composed of 229 delegates representing 159 of its 284 member civil society organizations from the 15 regional clusters all over the Philippines, held at Teacher’s Camp, Baguio City, last February 27-March 1, 2012 )

Promulgate a new mining policy now!

We have an unsettling anticipation for the new mining policy to be issued by PNoy administration. Of late there has been a round of media releases from different groups as to the content of the new mining policy. The development of the mining industry among others is one of the drivers for the present administration to rethink the mining policy that it inherited from the GMA administration which is the aggressive promotion of mining. For us the, the new mining policy in relation to the development of the mining industry should consider the following:

1. Mine only what we need for our national development

Time and again, we have repeatedly stressed that the economic argument for the aggressive promotion of mining is misplaced given its dismal contribution to our economy. We should identify strategic metals for our national development anchored on our agricultural development. Ever since, he minerals that have been mined and still being mined today are simply extracted by companies mostly foreign owned and shipped to home countries of such companies. We are left with damaged environment and toxic legacies like the Mariduque and Rapu-Rapu mining disasters. Our national patrimony should be defended and secured for our benefit. Agricultural development should be pursued and this should inform the strategic minerals that our country should produce.

2. Respect and protect “No-go-zones”

Aside from the areas where mining should not be done under existing laws, no-go-zones for all forms of mining should also include the conflict areas, key-biodiversity areas, small-island ecosystem, and prime agricultural lands. And even in areas where mining would be allowed, the FPIC process should be the minimum standard for its acceptance particularly for ancestral domain. Capacity-building of DENR and re-orientation of the MGB as a research agency and repository of information should be one of the directions in the changes in our mining policy.

3. Institutionalize and strengthen accountability of mining corporations and access to justice of victims of corporate abuses

Mining corporations should transact its business in accordance with the international principle of Business and Human Rights to which our country is one of the signatories. The business sector which include mining is mandated by the UN Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework to undertake due diligence before proceeding with its business operation and it should assume the responsibility of respecting the rights of people who will be potentially and will be actually affected by its operation. We think that a concrete operational mechanism of this duty is to shift the burden of proof to mining companies whenever any rights abuses or damage to the environment occurs. The extraction of minerals is undoubtedly imbued with public interest as it affect the lives of people and the environment. Given the asymmetry of information between corporations and communities affected by its operation and the great imbalance in resources and capacity by which information can be accessed, the shifting of the burden of proof to the corporations is by itself a concrete application of capacitating the victims of HR abuses committed by or as a consequence of business operations.

We support the rationalization of tax incentives and other freebies given to mining companies and exaction of transparency on all dealings of mining companies in generating and disposing its income including any benefits material or financial extended to LGUs and government agencies.

4. Uphold stewardship over mineral resources through peoples’ participation in management and decision-making

We are caretakers or stewards of the Creation. Large-scale mining as it is being done in the present context of regulatory capture, foreign ownership of mineral extraction, gross disregard for the FPIC process for the IPs, unchecked environmental crimes and disrespect for the socio-economic, cultural and political rights of mining-affected communities among others go against the very core of being a responsible steward. We have always risked of being accused as anti-development but we think the responsible mining being peddled by big mining companies borders only on stakeholdership- that is a claim based on interest or stake. Stewardship goes beyond interest. It is a duty and recognition that we are caretakers of the Creation for the present and future generation.

5. Explore and promote policies on Urban Mining or Metals Recycling.

Pressure to mine our mineral resources will be reduced if we consider urban mining. Reuse and recycling of minerals like copper, gold, aluminum among others will help reduce opening up new mines and thereby reduce also the release of other toxic waste to the environment. This will require a policy environment that will provide incentive and support to metal recycling. The Solid waste Management Act and the Basel Convention has laid the groundwork for waste management but a focused policy on metals recycling will have to formulated in order to support our claim for stewardship and management of our mineral resources.

6. Recognize and respect local autonomy

The open-pit ban contained in the Environment Code of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South Cotabato and Zamboanga del Norte are just two examples of how local government units resist and defend the destructive impact of open-pit mining. The new mining policy should recognize the constitutional and statutory grant to LGUs to determine its development processes within the framework of national development. Section 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code should inform the new mining policy as these upholds the will of the communities and the LGUs in relation to any undertaking that will directly affect, mining operations included.

We reiterate our call for:

The repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the passage of the Philippine Mineral Resources Bill;

Cancellation of all burdensome mining contracts after appropriate review and inventory;

Moratorium on all approval of new mining permits pending the issuance of the new mining policy.

Pending the repeal of the Mining Act 1995, promulgate a mining policy that protects our ownership and control over our mineral resources that will ensure the participation of the people and communities directly and indirectly affected by mining.

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