Mining is crucial to nation building. And the Philippines, rich in mineral deposits of metallic and non-metallic resources and even globally ranked high in terms of mineral reserves, has the potential to achieve this goal. However the mining industry in the Philippines remains to be highly extractive, export oriented and foreign dominated, and not geared towards developing national industries and modernization of agriculture. Mining benefits a few big foreign mining corporations and its local partners at the expense of the vast majority of the Filipino people and the environment.Mining is crucial to nation building. And the Philippines, rich in mineral deposits of metallic and non-metallic resources and even globally ranked high in terms of mineral reserves, has the potential to achieve this goal. However the mining industry in the Philippines remains to be highly extractive, export oriented and foreign dominated, and not geared towards developing national industries and modernization of agriculture. Mining benefits a few big foreign mining corporations and its local partners at the expense of the vast majority of the Filipino people and the environment.
The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 strengthened this mining scheme. It completely liberalized the mining industry in the country to entice foreign investors. This law gave impetus to the unhampered plunder of our remaining natural resources. It gives more benefits and incentives to transnational corporations far greater than those provided to Filipino entrepreneurs thru its provisions that allow:
1. Up to 100% foreign owned capital and repatriation profit.
2. Freedom from requisition of investment and freedom from expropriation
3. Tax exemption for a grace period of 10 years
4. Easement rights, water rights and timber rights
5. Tariff and tax exemption for the materials and supplies imported for their mining operation or exploration and free use of port for 10 years
In the 23 years since the Mining Act was signed into law, the Filipino people experienced plunder of resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of the environment and ecosystem, human rights violations and loss of traditional livelihoods. Indigenous peoples rights to our ancestral lands and self-determination are grossly violated. Under the present law, the mining industry has not significantly contributed to economic growth and development.
The mining industry’s contribution is a measly 0.72% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of the PhP 1.15 trillon gross production value in mining from 1997 to 2012, the Philippine government only gained PhP 110 billion or less than 10% of the gross value from taxes, fees and royalties. The mining industry only employs an average of 200,000 workers annually or 0.43% of the total employment in our country, contrary to the government claims that this industry will generate jobs.
The Mining Act of 1995 opened the floodgates for the surge of mining projects in ancestral lands. It threatens not only the land and resources, but the very survival of indigenous communities affected. To date, there exist at least 229 applications covering 542,245.40 hectares (72% of the total land area approved for mining) of ancestral territories. The sum of all the economic, social and environmental displacement and destruction is not commensurate to the miniscule revenues the country gained from this industry.
Now, Duterte’s Charter Change is being railroaded by his supermajority in Congress. Duterte’s anti-Filipino people and anti-national minorities Cha-cha seeks to open up Philippine lands and territory to 100% foreign ownership and unbridled exploitation of natural resources. The 1987 Philippine Constitution supposedly safeguards the country’s land and resources from foreign control, yet big foreign entities collaborate with oligarchs, bureaucrats and politicians are able to circumvent these protections. The national minorities are the biggest victims – our ancestral lands and territories rights are violated; resources are plundered and the environment destroyed. Now, Duterte’s chacha removes all barriers for the foreign ownership and brazen exploitation of land and resources. Whatever will remain as token recognition of our collective rights as national minorities in Duterte’s chacha will be rendered insignificant.
People’s resistance to large-scale and destructive mining and resource plunder resulting from a liberalized economy are met with repression. Violation of human rights such as extra-judicial killings, different forms of threats, harassments, and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders and community members are rampant in areas with mining interests.
In this context, the indigenous peoples and patriotic Filipinos call for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, reject the liberalized, foreign controlled, export-oriented mining industry and the Duterte Regime’s Cha-Cha.
It is high time for a rational and judicious use of our mineral wealth for domestic economy and genuine national development. Instead of a charter change for the benefit of few, the People’s Mining Bill must be put into law to put forward the Filipino people’s desire for a mining industry that upholds national sovereignty and patrimony, social justice, environment protection and people’s rights and welfare. #