Gov’t urged to stop large-scale mining, junk destructive mining policy
On World Earth Day, research group IBON called on government to stop large-scale mining and junk its export-oriented mining policy to ensure the welfare of communities, the country’s economy, and the environment.
Based on IBON’s research, the country’s experience has seen dwindling food and livelihood resources in communities with large-scale mining operations nationwide, such as in the Cordilleras, Cagayan, Bicol, Negros, Samar and Leyte, Zamboanga, Agusan, and Surigao. Dwindling fish catch, sedimentation that causes heavy damage to the marine ecosystem, destruction of rich mangrove forests, polluted water sources especially rivers and irrigation systems, severe forest denudation as well as the siltation of farms, are only some of the gravest observed impacts of mining. The country has also seen numerous mining disasters that have had irreversible impacts on the ecosystem.
IBON said that notwithstanding the serious displacement caused by large-scale mining in the lives and livelihood of mostly Filipino farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous communities, the Aquino administration has even stepped up the approval of mining applications.
Government data shows that the number of operating metallic mines increased significantly from 28 to 41 from 2010 to 2013, increasing even further to 46 within the first 9 months of 2014. The number of approved and registered mining applications, meanwhile, grew from 679 in 2010 to 999 by the third quarter of 2014.
Annual mining investment increased from US$1.05 billion in 2010 to US$1.31 billion in 2013. IBON noted however that the mining sector, dominated by big mining corporations serves foreign industry more than the Philippines. The value of mineral exports in 2013, for instance, was equivalent to some 98% of mineral production. This shows that the country’s raw mining resources are taken out of the country for foreign benefit.
According to IBON, the Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942) has allowed foreign control of mining operations and granting incentives and rights to foreign investors. This has not only violated constitutional provisions restricting foreign participation in key sectors, but also allowed big local and foreign business to cover up the plunder of the country’s resources through so-called environmental compliance. Instead of reversing this to ensure that the country’s mineral resources are utilized for its own industrialization, the Aquino administration came out with the revised EO 79 that merely sought to increase its already minimal revenue share from liberalized mining.
The Filipinos have a right to a healthy environment, which is essential to their aspiration for genuine economic development. Large-scale mining however has wrought irreversible damage to it and has in fact endangered the habitat of present and future generations, reason enough for government to scrap the policies that allow it, IBON said.