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‘Limiting Moro role in mining a problem’

The proposed Bangsamoro government would no longer be able to participate in any aspect of the exploration for and development of strategic minerals, fossil fuels and all potential sources of energy under the substitute bills in Congress that would replace the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Section 165 of Senate Bill No. 2894, filed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., states that “the Bangsamoro regional government shall have the authority, power and right to control, and supervision over the exploration, utilization, development and protection of the mines and minerals and other natural resources within the Bangsamoro autonomous region.”

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However, “strategic minerals such as uranium, petroleum and other fossil fuels, mineral oils and other potential sources of energy shall remain under the control and supervision of the national government,” the bill also states.

A similar section may be found in House Bill No. 5911.

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The “strategic minerals” clause is in the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) law but was not in the draft BBL.

“The original draft BBL provided for the participation of the Bangsamoro government in the selection process for the awarding of service contracts to private companies interested in exploring the oil and gas potentials of the region,” Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the government’s chief peace negotiator, said on Monday.

Ferrer explained that “the reintroduction of the strategic minerals clause not only created confusion but also took away any participation of the Bangsamoro government in any aspect of the exploration, development and use of fossil fuels and all potential sources of energy.”

She warned that the reintroduction of the clause in the substitute Congress bills on the BBL would perpetuate the problems encountered by the ARMM due to unclear jurisdiction over certain natural resources, saying that “classifying fossils fuels and other potential sources of energy is problematic.”

“Aside from being non-scientific, it exposes all natural resources to arbitrary classification as strategic,” she said in a statement. “Therein lies the problem.”

Ferrer said that “copper may not be strategic today, but the national government can declare anytime that copper is strategic. There are no safeguards, no definitions on what is strategic. It may even declare all minerals strategic.”

“Moreover, the qualification runs counter to other provisions on power generation which encourage the regional government to fill the power needs on its own from all possible energy sources as long as the utilities established are not connected to the Mindanao or national grid,” she said.

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During his sponsorship speech of Senate Bill No. 2894, Marcos did not provide any explanation for the changes he introduced.

Meanwhile, Ferrer thanked both the Senate and the House of Representatives for retaining the original proposed sharing formulas between the national and Bangsamoro governments with regard to the revenues generated from the exploration and development of natural resources.

As stipulated in the draft BBL, the Bangsamoro government shall keep 100 percent of government revenues from non-metallic minerals, 75 percent from metallic minerals and 50 percent from fossil fuels.

In contrast, the current ARMM law provides a 50-50 sharing of the revenues, taxes and fees of strategic minerals and a 70-30 sharing on non-strategic minerals with 70 percent going to the ARMM.

“The new wealth sharing scheme adopted in all versions of the BBL improves the share of the Bangsamoro government as far as metallic minerals are concerned,” said Ferrer, adding that “these enhancements are consistent with the rights and privileges given to the autonomous region by the Constitution and support the goal of social justice through wealth diffusion.”

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, BBL, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., fossil fuels, Minerals, Mining and quarrying, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Senate bill
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