By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY – An alliance of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera region said the lifting of the moratorium on the acceptance and grant of new mining applications shows the Aquino administration’s policy on mining.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Ramon Paje recently announced the lifting of the moratorium in a mining conference organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP). Paje also said that DENR will review appeals from 30 percent of rejected mining applications and they will also set guidelines for public bidding of exploration areas and joint ventures in mining.
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) said that the plan reveals the true attitude of the administration of President Benigo Simeon Aquino III towards mining. e “He [Aquino] portrays to be pro-Filipino people and pro-environment while, on the other hand, works to attract big foreign mining companies to exploit the Philippine lands especially the Filipino Indigenous Peoples’ territories,” CPA deputy secretary general Santos Mero Sr. said.
According to Paje, investors have expressed concerns that permit delays and policy discord between national and local governments may trip up pending and new investments estimated at around $20 billion in the next five to six years.
Last month, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) rejected more than two-thirds of the number of mining applications after reviewing them for about eight months to remove mining speculators. Mero said that after the moratorium was implemented, the long list of mining applications was ‘declogged’.
In the month of October last year, Ifugao representative Teodoro Baguilat Jr filed a resolution urging Aquino to declare a moratorium on large-scale mining in the Philippines, due to its devastating impact on the country’s cultural communities and their ancestral land
In February, Paje announced a moratorium on the mining applications pending a review.
CMP president Philip Romualdez said that the moratorium is stalling the industry’s growth or can even lead to a decline and consequently diminish mining’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product. Mero said this is not true, saying that mining’s contribution to the GDP has not been proven. He added that in fact, mining only gave a 1.2 percent to the GDP compared to the 1.5 percent last year.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna partylist representative Teddy Casiño said Paje should retract his statement while Congress is finishing a new law. Casiño filed House Bill 4315 or the People’s Mining Bill that aims to reorient the mining industry towards national industrialization, agricultural modernization, environmental sustainability and respect for human rights.
CPA chairperson Windell Bolinget said that HB 4315 is aimed at ending the foreign domination in the Philippine mining industry and its export-oriented nature. Bolinget added that Aquino should prioritize helping the passage of the bill into law instead of opening the Philippine mining industry and the Philippine patrimony to foreign mining giants. During the visit of Aquino in China, four mining firms agreed to invest in the country.
Bolinget again reiterated the scrapping of the current mining law which is Republic Act 7942 because it is only designed to satisfy the international world market instead of developing the Filipinos. He said that the mining moratorium should be as it is until the passage of the new mining law. (Posted by Bulatlat.com)