Pledge to the Repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942)
and Enact the People’s Mining Bill: A Call to the 2016 Presidentiable and National Candidates
The Philippines is rich in metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits and globally ranked high in terms of mineral reserves. In view of this, the Philippines has an enormous potential to achieve national industrialization. However the manner of mining industry in the country remains dangerously and unsustainably extractive. These precious resources are simply siphoned out and fully utilized by the huge foreign corporations. The country does not rightly benefit from our mineral wealth. As a consequence, the country runs the risk of being terminally impaired for development if the character of the mining industry goes on unabated at the current state.
The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942 further legitimized and worsened this mining scheme. It completely liberalized the mining industry in the country to entice foreign investors. This law gave impetus to the unhampered plunder of our remaining natural resources. It gives more benefits and incentives to transnational and multinational corporations far greater than those provided to Filipino entrepreneurs. This unfair and discriminatory policy biased towards foreign investors is seen thru legislated provisions that allow up to 100% foreign owned capital and repatriation profit, freedom from requisition of investment and freedom from expropriation, tax exemption for a grace period of 10 years, easement rights, water rights and timber rights, and tariff and tax exemption for the materials and supplies imported for their mining operation or exploration and free use of port for 10 years.
In the 21 years since the Mining Act was signed into law, the mining industry has not significantly contributed to economic growth and development and much less to the upliftment of human welfare.
The mining industry’s contribution is a measly 0.72% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of the
PhP 1.15 trillon gross production value in mining from 1997 to 2012, the Philippine government only gained PhP 110 billion or less than 10% of the gross value from taxes, fees and royalties. The mining industry only employs an average of 200,000 workers annually or 0.43% of the total employment in our country, contrary to the government claims that this industry will generate jobs.
Under the present law, the Filipino people suffered untoward miseries due to plunder of resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of the environment and ecosystem, human rights violations and loss oftraditional livelihoods.Indigenouspeoples’ rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination are grossly violated.
The Mining Act of 1995 threatens not only the land and resources, but the very survival of indigenous communities affected. As of 2014, 251 applications covering 532,368.36 hectares (55% of the total land area approved for mining) are areas occupied by IP communities.
Mine-affected communities suffer displacement from their homes and livelihood, destruction of their water systems and resources areas. Worse, the culprits of the biggest mine disasters remain unpunished and continue to operate. The sum of all the social and environmental destruction is not commensurate to the miniscule revenues the country gained from this industry.
The IPs together with the farmers, fisher folks, workers, women, church people, academe, and youth, consistently call for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Information dissemination campaign and protest actions and lobby for a pro-people mining law continue. Local Government Units (LGU) passed resolutions restricting mining in their localities. Indigenous peoples based on their traditional systems entered into pagta or peace pacts and others waged pangayaw or tribal war to defend their ancestral lands against the mining corporations.
From June 2014 until the end of 2015, more than18, 000 signatures were gathered by the Scrap the Mining Act of 1995 Network, mainly from church and academic institutions in some urban centers, calling to revoke the said law. While these actions are gaining more support, no actions were substantially taken by the legislative and executive bodies to address the mining industry problem.
Meanwhile, people’s resistance to large-scale and destructive mining resulting from a liberalized mining scheme under the Mining Act of 1995 are met with repression. Violation of human rights such as extra-judicial killings, different forms of threats, harassments, and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders and community members are rampant in areas with mining interests.
It is high time now to act promptly, not only for the people who are adversely affected, but most decisively for the Philippine government - both the executive and legislative branches to re-orient and pursue a rational and judicious use of our mineral wealth for domestic economy and genuine national development.
We recognize that the cause and answer lies, to a large extent, in legislation. The 2016 National Elections should be a platform not just for flowery promises but to hear and act upon the people’s demands who are giving us constant warnings about the material sustainability of our existence.
We call upon the presidentiable candidates – Vice-President Jejomar Binay, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, Former Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Miriam Santiago and all the senatorial and congressional candidates to heed the call of the Filipino peoples and pledge to the Repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942) and Enact the People’s Mining Bill.
In this context, we, the indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, IP and human rights advocates, environmentalists, youth, women, artists, media, church people, academe, professionals, businessmen, government leaders and patriotic Filipinos call for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. We urgently call for the enactment of the people’s mining bill that embodies the Filipino people’s desire for a mining industry that upholds national sovereignty and patrimony, social justice, environment protection and people’s rights and welfare. We reject the liberalized, foreign controlled and export-oriented mining industry.