By ACE ALEGRE
BAGUIO CITY – A senator is seeking a review of the 16-year old Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Sen. Loren Legarda, who convened indigenous peoples all over Luzon at the Teachers Camp here Friday, said the law needs revisions so that issues on economic, social and environmental returns and safeguards will be addressed.
“We need to look if economic returns especially to indigenous peoples are fit vis-à-vis the environmental effects,” the senator, head of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and Committee on Cultural Communities, said.
“We need also to look at the royalties derived from (mining operations),” she added. “We must check the cost-benefit (of these).”
Among those present in the assembly are leaders and representatives from groups like: Isneg, Bago, Tingguian, Kankanaey, Iwak, Ibatan, Agta, Itawes, Tuwali, Gaddang, Bugkalot, Ayangan, Tiblac and Dumagats.
Tribal and indigenous peoples have been complaining of economic and cultural dislocation and minimal trickle-down-effect of mining operations all over the country, most of which are located along IP territories.
Despite the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, IP groups said significant improvement in the communities’ socio-economic and cultural well-being is still wanting.
“Much is desired to ensure improved access to basic health services and education, sustainable development of ancestral lands and resources, economic empowerment, and development of traditional knowledge, skills and practices,” Legarda said.
The two-day assembly, gathered by Legarda in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), seeks to provide a platform in helping communicate and achieve development of (cultural communities) through collective efforts and will serve as a mechanism to strengthen the voices of IP leaders as they engage in dialogue with local and national policy-makers as well as international institutions.
Similar meetings of IPs will take place in Mindanao on September 16 to17 and in Visayas on September 23 to 24.
An indigenous cultural summit will be held in Manila on October 13 to14, as a celebration of Indigenous Peoples Month.