Mining liberalization has brought the world’s biggest mining companies with their local partners into the country with disastrous results
Presidential candidates need to take a pro-people stance and oppose large-scale mining in the country, said research group IBON. They need to stand against the country’s mining liberalization policy, which has resulted in destruction, poverty and attacks on mining-affected areas and done little for the economy, the group said.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines recently expressed hopes for a mining rebound in 2016 due to the seemingly “mining-friendly” roster of presidentiables. It has expressed preference for a president who will uphold the Mining Act of 1995 and ensure the benefits of mining investors. The Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce also recently stated the need for a president that would ensure pro-big business reforms in priority sectors, among which is mining.
IBON said that the candidates should shun this “mining-friendliness” if it also means the escalation of harassment and killings in communities resisting large-scale mining.
In Compostela Valley, Lumad leader Teresita Navacilla and resident Jennifer Albacite who were active in opposing large-scale mining operations in their communities were killed in recent weeks. Philippine Army soldiers from the 46th and 71st Infrantry Battalions reportedly went on a shooting spree and bombed communities in barangay Kingking, Pantukan, killing and wounding several civilians. Despite community opposition, President Aquino recently approved the Kingking Copper and Gold Project of the Nationwide Development Corporation (Nadecor) and Canadian-owned St. Augustine Gold and Copper Limited.
In Sta. Cruz, Zambales, police are reportedly harassing the protesting residents of Sta. Cruz and already arrested three villagers. The residents recently barricaded their villages to prevent the trucks of mining companies from hauling nickel to port.
IBON also reminded the presidential candidates that under “responsible mining” of previous administrations, there were some 19 major large-scale mining disasters across the country. The biggest disaster (in terms of volume of toxic tailings) occurred under President Aquino when Philex Mining Company dumped 20.6 million metric tons of mine tailings in the Balog River. Meanwhile, the industry only contributed an annual average of 0.4% of total employment in the period 1997-2014 and 0.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1998-2014.
Mining liberalization has brought the world’s biggest mining companies with their local partners into the country with disastrous results. The 2016 elections is an opportunity for presidential hopefuls genuinely concerned with national development and industrialization to rethink the country’s mining liberalization policy, said the group.