Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, author of the People’s Mining Bill (HB 4315) yesterday said in a press release that he doubts that President Benigno Aquino’s much awaited executive order on mining would be able to reform the mining industry, a press release from his office said.
"The said EO won't be able to go beyond the defects of the Mining Act of 1995 in terms of lopsided benefits to foreign-owned and backed mining firms, its deficient environmental safeguards, its export orientation and lack of integration to the local economy, and the disempowerment of local communities," Casiño said.
The EO is expected to, among others, introduce competitive bidding for mining rights, impose a wider ban on mining in some areas, as well as a new provision on increased economic valuations on projects before they are approved, the press release said.
“This EO will not change the bias for exports and its resulting unbridled extraction of our mineral wealth for other economies. It seems the thrust of the EO is merely to increase government revenues, bribe local governments with a larger piece of the pie and provide token prohibitions for environmentally critical areas. But this fails to address the more fundamental issues afflicting the industry," Casiño said.
“We need a new law, not a rehashed EO,” said Casiño, citing the experience of the previous administration’s own mining EO which led to the proliferation of large-scale, environmentally destructive mining operations.
The People’s Mining Bill authored by Casiño seeks to reorient the Philippine mining industry towards the "wise and sustainable development and judicious use" of the country's mineral resources.
Among its key provisions are: the establishment of a centralized and strategic planning of the Philippine mining industry through the crafting and implementation of a National Industrialization Program and a National Mining Plan.
· The reorientation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as a scientific research institution under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with exclusive right to conduct exploration activities and identify strategic mineral resources needed for the country’s development, is also included.
The creation of Multi-Sectoral Mineral Councils for designated mining areas, composed of representatives from the government, stakeholder groups, and affected communities, which will approve and monitor the conduct of mining activities in each respective area is also provided in the bill, the press release said,
Upholding the rights and welfare of Philippine mining industry workers, indigenous peoples, and local communities, and appropriate support and protection to Filipino corporations and professional science and technology workers to increase their participation in the industry are provided in the proposed measure, the press release added.*