Revised mining policy
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
S The new mining policy of the government is now being looked at by some sectors as a threat to the meager income of some individuals who make a living out of small-scale mining, notwithstanding the dangers it may pose to life, limb, and property.
In Negros Oriental alone, mining done by private individuals, most of them with hardly any means of income, is equated to quarrying and even treasure-hunting.
Recently, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said that President Aquino is set to sign a revised mining policy, specifically to address three concerns. These are: the inconsistent regulation at the national and local government levels; the slow remittances of mining royalties from the national government to the towns and provinces that host mining operations; and, the problem with illegal small-scale miners. It goes without saying that no one wants to have a reprise of what happened to miners who perished in Compostela Valley in January of last year.
The mining industry is a lucrative one in the country. In Negros Oriental alone, two big mining companies operate in Ayungon and Tayasan. Having been around for quite some time, they have provided livelihood to residents in the neighboring areas and must have complied with environmental impact assessment certificates.
However, as economist and former Finance Secretary Margarito “Gary” Teves suggests, livelihood may not be enough. What would be more lasting for the community’s welfare would be the establishment of, for example, school buildings or clinics that would redound to the greater benefit of people in general.
The opposition of some sectors, including some 40 governors in the country, stems from the fact that a mining firm operating in a site would have to pay five percent of royalties on top of the two percent excise tax required by law. What Teves is further suggesting is, perhaps, instead of picking on the royalties, why not get from the profits generated from the mining firm’s operation.
This modification to a national policy needs to be studied intently considering the stakeholders who may be affected. We certainly do not want any repercussions as a result of this new mining policy.*