[Press Release] Legislator renews call for alternative mining law -ATM
Legislator renews call for alternative mining law
Lone District of Nueva Vizcaya Representative and House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Carlos M. Padilla said the enactment of alternative mining law is important to provide a new policy in managing our country’s mineral resources and in resolving glaring flaws of the Republic Act No. 7942 otherwise known as the Mining Act of 1995.
“Given the track record of mining in the Philippines under the Mining Act of 1995, we have witnessed one mine disaster after another, displacement of population and the militarization of communities where mining operations exist,” Rep. Padilla said.
Despite all the praises and promotion by the government and mining industry of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 as a “world class” mining law, the overwhelming truth remains that for the past 19 years, the Mining Act of 1995 has legitimized the plunder of our mineral resources, the destruction of our environment and displacement of communities.
Brandished by government and mining sector as “one of the best in the world,” the Mining Act of 1995 only proved to be a recipe for disaster.
In his privilege speech today at the House of Representatives, Rep. Padilla renews call for Congress to revisit the Mining Act of 1995 and assess its implementation. Likewise, he cited the increasing opposition and public opinion towards mining due to various disasters attendant to large-scale mining operations.
“In light of the foregoing facts, it is high time for Congress to put premium in the human dignity of communities and biodiversity value of our country’s mineral resources. No less than an alternative minerals law will do this,” Rep. Padilla said.
Rep. Padilla added that under the present law, it allows 100% ownership of minerals by foreign entities through Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs); allows for more open areas to mining than to mining-free zones; grants auxiliary entitlements to mining firms such as timber rights, water rights and even the right to use explosives among others; and allows tax deduction, yet leaving communities divided and underdeveloped and which traditional livelihoods directly dependent on natural resources destroyed.
In the province of Nueva Vizcaya is home to two large-scale mining companies, OceanaGold and FCF Minerals. One of the first Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) approved under the law is Didipio Gold Project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, now under the operation of Oceana Gold Philippines Incorporated (OGPI).
“The two mining companies are all threats to my province’s mountains, water systems and agricultural products. This is true because at a broader scale the impacts of mining are not contained within the mining area but the use of explosives naturally results in deforestation and slope destabilization,” Rep. Padilla said.
He emphasized that “I won’t allow my province of Nueva Vizcaya’s natural resources wantonly destroyed in the name of profit.”
“We saw the increasing number of barricades put up and managed by peoples who refuse to give up their ancestral lands. And we saw numerous provincial and municipal ordinances passed opposing the entry of mining companies in their areas,” Rep. Padilla added.
In February 2014, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading House Bill 3667 seeking to declare the province of Nueva Vizcaya as a mining free zone.
The bill authored by Rep. Padilla provides it shall be unlawful for any person to mine or engage in mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya. Violators shall be penalized with 6 to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 to P500,000.
The campaign against large scale mining in Nueva Vizcaya has strong public sentiment and this is led by the Diocese of Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena, people’s organizations and civil society organizations.
This week–dubbed “Mining Hell Week” –as a time of reckoning of the tragedies and the irreversible damage mining activities have continuously inflicted on communities since the enactment of Mining Act of 1995. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) led various actions including a caravan to different government agencies and the House of Representatives calling for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and enactment of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).
Groups and supporters from ATM gathered today to denounce mining corporations’ impunity outside of the offices of mining corporations like Philex, Nickel Asia, Sagittarius Mines and Barrick Gold.-end-
For details, please contact:
Farah Y. Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, ATM National Secretariat
March 12, 2014
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