Isn’t it Ironic? DENR’s proposed Covid-19 recovery includes an underperforming mining sector
The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. – a national partnership of some 250 peoples’ organizations, non-government organizations, and church’s social action centers working for the protection of the environment – believes that the proposal currently being pushed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is detached from the social and scientific truth – that environmental destruction brought about massively by mining and other extractive and the release of unknown deadly viruses, Covid-19 and Ebola for example, are interconnected. Moreover, the agency is naïve in the sense that mining as an economic activity has yet to prove its economic contribution to our revenues, but has time and time again proven its negative impact to biodiversity in great and permanent way, e.g. The Marcopper Mining Tragedy of 1996.
We believe that if we are to mount a national recovery – a robust revenue collection by the national government is needed. It should have money to spend to counter the socio-economic and environmental impact of Covid-19 head-on and at the same time to have the means to pay for an increasing debt. A look at the table below shows the mining sector’s overwhelming underperformance in terms of its contribution to the national treasury for the years 2013 – 2018.
Mining also boasts that they provide employment. And with the covid-19 pandemic impact to trading and business, the necessity for people to be employed and earn an income to spend for their family needs as they adapt to the new normal should be an utmost concern of government. To offer mining as an answer to increasing unemployment is a myth. The mining sector fails dismally in this area. As reflected in the table below, the mining sector generates less than 1% of the Philippine’s workforce, meanwhile the rest of our local workforce come from other industry such as food production, health sector, social sector, and the like. With an increasing demand for local industries to thrive, the government should be supporting the opening-up or sustaining sustainable industries rather than those that are environmentally destructive and export-driven industry.
As we transition to the new normal, we hope that government agencies, especially the DENR be true to their mandate to act in the interest of the environment, as well as the welfare of people and communities where mining companies operate.
For many years we continuously challenge DENR’s regulatory and monitoring mandate, which are so lacking and even partial to the interest of mining companies. The agency needs to step up and put protection and conservation of the environment at the forefront of their action in this new normal and not on making mining and extractive companies flourish in the post covid-19 pandemic recovery. Regulating and limiting mining companies’ operations will protect nature from the onslaught of extractive corporations. It can also protect the people from a possible, new occurring viruses made possible by the destruction of our wilds, animals, or biodiversity.