Mining is crucial to nation building. And the Philippines, rich in mineral deposits of metallic and non-metallic resources and even globally ranked high in terms of mineral reserves, has the potential to achieve this goal. However the mining industry in the Philippines remains to be highly extractive, export oriented and foreign dominated, and not geared towards developing national industries and modernization of agriculture. Mining benefits a few big foreign mining corporations and its local partners at the expense of the vast majority of the Filipino people and the environment.
The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942 strengthened 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 corporations far greater than those provided to Filipino entrepreneurs thru its provisions that allow:
1. Up to 100% foreign owned capital and repatriation profit
2. Freedom from requisition of investment and freedom from expropriation
3. Tax exemption for a grace period of 10 years
4. Easement rights, water rights and timber rights
5. 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 19 years since the Mining Act was signed into law, the Filipino people experienced plunder of resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of the environment and ecosystem, human rights violations and loss of traditional livelihoods. Indigenous peoples rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination are grossly violated. Under the present law, the mining industry has not significantly contributed to economic growth and development.
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.
The Mining Act of 1995 opened the floodgates for the surge of mining projects in ancestral lands. It threatens not only the land and resources, but the very survival of indigenous communities affected. To date, there exist at least 712 approved mining applications covering 967,530.86 hectares of the country’s total land area. Of this, 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, such as Philex, Lepanto, Marcopper, Lafayette and Citinickel, 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, youth and students, consistently call for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Information dissemination campaign and protest actions such as petition and signature campaign, caravans, picket rallies, putting up road barricades, placing placards along mountain trails, and directly confronting mining corporations through dialogues and lobby for a new 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 in Northern Luzon and in Mindanao.
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.
In this context, we, the indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, IP and human rights advocates, environmentalists, students, 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 also call for the enactment of a 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.
It is high time for 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.
WE PETITION THE PHILIPPINE CONGRESS to repeal the Republic Act 7942 or Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and enact a patriotic, pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment and responsible mining bill.
An action initiated by the SCRAP THE PHILIPPINE MINING ACT OF 1995 NETWORK
The SCRAP THE MINING ACT Network, Defend Ancestral Lands & Uphold National Patrimony!, is a broad campaign network of individuals, institutions and groups from the church, academe, legislature and legal community, different cause-oriented groups , IP rights advocates, environmentalists, journalists, cultural workers and other concerned groups who are united and committed to the call: Scrap the Mining Act of 1995, end liberalization of the mining industry and to advance a pro-indigenous peoples, patriotic, pro-environment and responsible mining policy.