Representatives Casiño, Ilagan slam new mining policyBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—Amid protests on the Malacañang’s new mining policy, two party-list lawmakers slammed the recently approved Executive Order 79, saying that it would make no difference to the worsening state of the environment in the country.
Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño and Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan said the new EO on mining was not the answer to the damage to the country’s environment and resources nor could it protect communities near mining operations.
“The new EO will not make a dent on the massive destruction of our resources and environment that is now happening. In fact, it will only aggravate the mining status quo, at most it will only increase the national government’s income but it is inimical to the environment and the Filipino people,” said Casiño, pointing out that the new EO “favors big players.”
This view was echoed by Ilagan who said that as the new mining EO “does not intend to change the current expansive spread of mining operations in the country… protect communities or make mining companies liable for the damage that has been inflicted on our resources,” the government should instead support the House Bill 4315 or the People’s Mining Bill, which was pending discussion at the House of Representatives.
Casiño said the bill seeks to “repeal Republic Act 7492, Presidential Decree 463, Presidential Decree 512, and all other pro-foreign mining issuances in the country.”
“We will also mandate greater shares for the government at 10 percent and indigenous peoples’ royalty also at 10 percent from the gross revenue from mining under a National Industrialization Plan that Aquino government has yet to draft. It also respects and will aid small-scale miners on the long-term. This is what is not in E.O 79,” he added.
Casiño said their issue with the new EO on mining was that while it took “provisions from the mining bills pending in Congress, it at the same time hastens, if not shortens the application procedures for large-scale mining projects while it cracks down on small-scale miners and undercuts local government units’ autonomy.”
He said the new EO created a “one-stop shop for all mining applications… and legitimizes the big mining players’ practice of going through export processing zones (giving them) more profits via so many exemptions on tariffs, duties and other fees.”
But while the two lawmakers were against the approval of the new mining EO, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone saw some good points in the new policy, saying that it was beneficial for the people that it suspends the issuance of new mining permits and seeks to protect tourist attractions, prime agricultural land and island ecosystems against mining operations.
He said the new policy in fact, struck a “fair compromise” between mining firms and those who sought to protect the country’s resources.