2019: Another challenging year for Battle-scarred Mining Communities and Environmental Defenders
We, from the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) along with our partner-communities struggling to halt active mining operations in their areas and demanding rehabilitation for abandoned mines, see 2019 as another challenging year in our battle against destructive mining.
During the Holidays, DENR Undersecretary Analiza was jovial announcing that a robust mining industry is in the horizon come 2019 with reference to possible lifting of moratorium on the issuance of new mining permits given the passage of House Bill 8400, a new mining law rationalizing mining industry fiscal regime.
“How ironic,” said PMPI National Coordinator Yoly R. Esguerra. “How can the DENR Undersecretary be happy about possible upsurge of mining activities that destroy people, culture and environment, when she is from an agency that supposed to protect the environment.
House Bill 8400, An Act Establishing the Fiscal Regime for the Mining Industry shepherded by Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is sadly the first of the few signs that indeed 2019 will become an excellent year for mining companies, undeniably a backdrop of growing aggression against communities and the natural environment. Add to this is the planned TRAIN Law II or the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion dubbed as “TRABAHO” Law, purportedly seeking further rationalization and increase in revenue for the government.
The mining company ecstatically hailed these progressive moves in taxation; moves that will burden many people, moves that WE will not submit and succumbed to as trap.
The HB 8400 and TRAIN Law II for PMPI, are but a clear attempt by this administration to hoodwink the public to appear that a new comprehensive policy framework has been installed to guide the mineral extraction industry in the country. However, highlighting the increased revenues that these policies will generate, it is but a short-sighted intervention perhaps only to comply to a provision in Executive Order 79 Series of 2012 issued by the Aquino Administration that requires a new legislation on mining tax – “No new mineral agreements shall be entered into until a legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect. The DENR may continue to grant and issue Exploration Permits under existing laws, rules, and guidelines.” (Sec. 4 Grant of Mineral Agreements Pending New Legislation).
Assuming both policies become effective at extracting revenues for the government, nowhere in the taxing scheme do we see payments for ecosystem services (e.g. carbon sequestration of forests) that will be affected by mining operations, nor just compensation for communities that will be forced out of their homes or for livelihood that will be lost e.g. Agriculture/Food production.
Indeed, 2019 will be a banner year for mining corporations if this government finally gives-in to the pleading and lobbying of the mining industry despite numerous statements by President Rodrigo Duterte that he is against open-pit mining and that the Philippines is better-off without mining.
For PMPI and SOS Communities, our position remains the same, lopsided policies such as HB 8400 and the proposed TRAIN Law II are anything but money for the government and the mining industry, and continued development aggression against the environment and communities.