Even with its seemingly acceptable provisions, the government’s new mining policy remains flawed and inadequate in addressing the destructive effects and miniscule benefits of large-scale mining, said research group IBON.
Government recently released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order (EO) No. 79, which will supposedly attend to the concerns on environmental degradation and negligible economic benefits from mining. However, even as the measure imposes a mining ban on areas designated for ecotourism and a moratorium on new mining deals, IBON reiterates that it will not stop controversial and greatly destructive mining projects.
More importantly, while the moratorium is in effect until Congress passes a new law that will increase government’s mining revenues, the EO still allows exploration to continue. Based on the Mining Act of 1995, it is at this stage where most incentives are given to mining corporations.
IBON noted that while the new mining policy clearly addresses much of the interests of mining firms in the country over legitimate concerns of mining-affected communities and people’s groups, the industry still seems to find the EO inadequate for mining firms. During the Mining Philippines 2012 Conference, the Chamber of Mines expressed its disapproval of the EO’s IRR provision allowing the renegotiation of mining contracts after its initial term. This provision, according to IBON, again only shows that the EO extends the Mining Act towards merely ensuring that government gets a bigger cut from large-scale mining.
Other EO provisions such as regulating small-scale mining, creating an inter-agency forum, a one-stop shop and centralized database, and asserting the authority of the national government over local governments are all directed towards making large-scale mining seem responsible. However, these do not correct the basic policy flaw of allowing foreign firms to exploit the country's vast mineral resources.
In the end, the government does not intend to reverse the liberalization of the sector under the Mining Act of 1995, which resulted in intensified large-scale mining in the country. It fails in concealing the Aquino government's general stance to earn negligible revenues in exchange for irreversible resource depletion and potentials for Philippine industrialization, said IBON. (end)