This recent backtracking of President Rodrigo “Roa” Duterte and his administration on mining prove that indeed his past pronouncements and posturing as pro-environment is nothing but lip service.
The reasons for the amendment are unsubstantial and flawed. One, with regards to its claim that will add to the needed revenue and will generate jobs:
WE believe that mining is NOT a significant and sustainable job generating industry. One, with regards to its claim that it will add to the needed revenue and will generate jobs, this sector has been consistently employing below 1% percent of the Philippine’s total employment from 2013 – 2018 (See Table 1. Data on Employment – Mining and Quarrying from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau 2013 – 2019).
Poverty in “Mining Provinces” is high. The DENR, along with the Department of Finance, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, and their apologetics have come to conclude that mining contributes to poverty alleviation. Looking into the poverty incidence among families for the year 2015 based on regional Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold among prominent mining regions MIMAROPA, CARAGA, Region IX Zamboanga Peninsula (ZAMPEN), Region XII SOCCSKSARGEN, and Region V Bicol in relation to the national Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, we can deduce that mining operations within these regions does not necessarily help in alleviating poverty (See Table 2 below).
WE believe that the Philippine mining sector does not contribute to government revenue. A review of the Philippine government’s revenue from mining from National Government Revenues – Tax Revenues (treasury.gov.ph) and that of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Mining Industry Data 2013 – 2018 show the Philippine Mining industry is, was, and forever shall be, an export-oriented industry geared towards serving foreign countries need for raw and semi-processed minerals which means, the argument that it can support the needs of this government’s Build, Build, Build program is posited on a false idea that we manufacture our own steel and other metallic minerals into infrastructure components (see Table 3 below).
Worse, the share of the Philippine mining sector to the economy has yet to surpass the 2% share to the country’s total revenue! (See Table 3. Percentage share of Philippine Mining Sector to Philippine Export, and Government Revenue from Taxes, Fees, and Royalties in millions of Php).
Moreover, the EO is deceitful. We doubt that the second amendment in the new Order requiring strict implementation of Mine Safety and Environmental Policies will be implemented and just an icing to the cake to douse off cold water to oppositions and challenges it will meet.
We do not believe that the current policies will safeguard the rights of communities, and the integrity of their environment against the onslaught of foreign-capitalized large-scale mining. Our communities are witness to this. Among those that were victimized by irresponsible large-scale mining corporations are communities of Marinduque, Rapu-rapu Island in Albay, and Manicani Island of Eastern Samar. These communities up to this moment bare witness to the scars and poison of open-pit mining – Marcopper Mining Tragedy of 1996 poisoned the Boac River and the communities living within the area; the un-rehabilitated mine site of Manicani Island despite Hinatuan Mining Corporations’ expired mining contract; and worse, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the DENR has approved its mining contract in the past without Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Plan per mandated by law.
We find the current government insensitive and oblivious to the current situation of the world confronted with environmental and ecological crisis.
WE are in the midst of a Climate Crisis. Based on the Global Climate Risk Index for 2018, the Philippines was ranked second among the world’s most vulnerable in terms of the weather-related loss such as floods, storm, and heatwaves (Global Climate Risk Index, 2020). Opening-up new mines in rural areas puts them at greater risk on the impacts of climate change. This is a scientific fact, neglected by the DENR and Office of the President when it imprinted its imprimatur on Executive Order 130.
This insensible decision by this administration makes clearer the government’s priorities and for whom is its promised development directed to. Mining industry has contributed greatly to the loss of biodiversity and this decreases natural and human resilience against impacts of climate changes such as drought, rising sea level and strong Typhoons such as Yolanda which devastated Eastern Samar back in 2013. The loss of forest covers leads to lessened ability for carbon sequestration and oxygen production, which are important to stabilize and balance climate changes. Wild animals being forced to move out due to habitat loss by mining bear the consequences that could reach catastrophic heights such as more zoonotic diseases like the COVID-19 pandemic. All these consequences will only have the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged sector of the Filipino people bear the brunt of this questionable economic development.
We deplore this new destructive measure disguising as move to favor development of people. This measure is short-sighted and fails to reflect on its longstanding impact to our ecosystem and people. There is a firm need for the government, especially environmental agencies, to properly recognize the intersectionality of social and environmental issues anchored in exploitation of nature.
Moreover, the notion that it is for the benefit of people is another lie. It favors the corporations and the so-called oligarchs that Duterte wants to supposedly disempower for the sake of people, which is evidently another lip service statement from this President. We view this as his way to appease his would-be supporters and to hold on to power come election 2022. This leaves-out the poor once again, who he promised to serve on his assumption to power. The rights of people and nature will again be trampled upon with the lifting of the moratorium to new Mining Agreements.
The PMPI and our communities struggling against the destructive mining operations, will continue to be steadfast at engaging this administration to practice righteous and appropriate jurisdiction and eco-governance centered on holistic and sustainable development, and which it includes taking vigorous action to stop mining actively and entirely.