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Solons, Church and groups push for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new mining law
On Mining
Friday, 04 March 2011 11:42
“For more than a decade and a half, contrary to the promises of development and prosperity that comes with the enactment of the Mining Act of 1995, the Filipino people have only witnessed and become victims of the havoc that the foreign-dominated mining industry has brought to our country. Human rights violations amongst indigenous peoples and communities, mining-related extrajudicial killings, division amongst communities, environmental destructions, cases of bribery amongst government institutions, non-payment of taxes, and undermining of local governance have all been main-stay features under the 16th year history of the mining law.”

This is what Judy Pasimio, Executive Director of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK/FOE-Phils.), and one of the convenors of the Minerals Management Bill Now Network (MMB Now! Network) asserted on the 16thanniversary of the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942) as mining-affected communities, Catholic Church, Congressional representatives, peoples organizations, environmental and human rights groups call for the scrapping of the highly contested mining law and push for the immediate enactment of a new mining law.

Meanwhile, religious leaders reiterated their call to repeal the current mining law.  Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxilliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila said that they have consistently called for such action in the past.  “The CBCP has issued pastoral statements in 1998 and 2006, calling for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.  As pastors, we have witnessed how the faithful has struggled to defend the integrity of creation.  Our experiences of environmental tragedies belie claims and assurances of responsible mining”, Pabillo said.  Relatedly Bp. Deogracias Iniguez, Spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and Bishop of the Diocese of Caloocan, recalled that the CBCP had observed that “mining areas remain among the poorest areas in the country such as the mining communities in CARAGA, Bicol and Cordillera Regions”. Bp. Iniguez also cited the lament of many Bishops that the indigenous peoples face serious challenges when confronted with mining as “the cultural fabric of indigenous peoples is also being destroyed by the entry of mining corporations”.    

Within the Halls of the lower Congress, mining-affected communities and advocates have found their allies as HB206 and HB3763, both pushing for a new mining law, were filed in July 1, 2010 and December 1, 2010 respectively. The authors of the bills are Rep. Erin Tanada III for HB 206 or the Alternative Mining Bill (AMB) and Rep. Kaka Bag-ao and Rep. Walden Bello of Akbayan Partylist, Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Rep. Carlos Padilla and Rep. Roilo Golez for HB 3763 or the Minerals Management Bill (MMB). Additional Congress representatives have since joined the cause.

Rep. Erin Tañada III of the 4th District of Quezon Province, on his part asserts that “That is why, along with the mining-affected communities, peoples’ organizations, the Catholic Church, NGOs and experts, we have filed the Alternative Mining Bill as a response in regulating the exploration, development and utilization of our minerals resources. This bill, if passed into law, will correct all the mistakes and negative effects that the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 has brought to our country and the AMB puts communities, human rights, conservation of our mineral and natural resources, and genuine national development at the center.”   

Rep. Kaka Bag-ao of Akbayan Partylist adds “The MMB envisions that if we ever need to extract our mineral resources it should be for the benefit of the Filipino people and not for the interest of foreign and domestic mining corporations. Under the current mining law, mineral extraction is done at the expense of our communities and the environment. The MMB will ensure that any mineral extraction done in the country, it should be geared towards genuine national industrialization and modernization of our agriculture.”

Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao asserts that “The experiences of most of our indigenous brothers and sisters also points to frustration with the current mining law. Under the Mining Act of 1995 the rights of indigenous peoples on their ancestral domains, territories and resources, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) requirements for indigenous communities, to name a few, have been undermined by irresponsible mining, some corrupt government officials, and most mining companies.  The MMB ensures that the right of our indigenous brothers and sisters are respected and protected, specifically that of their right to their lands, territories and resources and that equitable share from any mineral extraction within their ancestral domains is assured.”

Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, stressed that the current Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is inadequate in addressing serious challenges that face the country, including climate change, disaster risk reduction and globalization.  “Our studies show that mining has contributed very little to economic growth because of the too liberal incentives given by the current mining law.”  He also added that given new laws that have been passed recently, “there really is an urgent need to pass a new mining law that will comply with climate change, disaster-risk reduction and the globalizing economy.” He also challenged the mining companies that “if they are really serious about responsible mining, then they should support these two pending bills, as these capture comprehensively the genuine practice of mining responsibly.” He concluded that passing a new mining law will benefit not only the communities and the country as a whole, but the mining industry as well.  

The movement to protect and defend communities, mineral resources, biodiversity and fragile ecologies from irresponsible mining is gaining grounds and has recently found new allies in known conservationist like the ABS-CBN Foundation/Bantay Kalikasan, where Ms. Gina Lopez, a scion of the Lopez family, is leading a 10-million signature campaign to stop mining in Palawan.

“16 years is enough! We have seen enough of the negative social effects and environmental devastation that the Mining Act of 1995 has brought. We call on all the leaders of our country, especially our House Representatives, Senators and President Nonoy Aquino, to join the cause. Let us save our country from the ravages that the mining law has brought upon us. Let us enact an alternative Minerals Management Bill now!” Pasimio concludes.”

***
The Minerals Management Bill Now Network (MMB Now Network) is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of mining-affected communities, national peoples alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, Congressional representatives, known leaders and personalities advocating for the repealing of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of the Minerals Management Bill.

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Last Updated on Friday, 04 March 2011 11:46
 

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