[Statement] Lifting ban on new mining projects: another incompetent COVID-19 response from the government | atm

Lifting ban on new mining projects: another incompetent COVID-19 response from the government

Executive Order 130 only serves the business interests of few, not the Filipino people

Quezon City — Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) partners and members were devastated by the issuance of Executive Order (EO) 130 lifting the ban on new mining projects. The group stated in a press conference that the order is another incompetent COVID-19 response from the Duterte administration only serving the business interests of few in power, not the Filipino people.

One week before Earth Day, President Duterte issued EO130 citing the “significant economic benefits” of opening the country to new mining agreements. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) identified mining and river dredging as primary economic drivers of post-pandemic recovery.

“A just recovery from COVID-19 can only be achieved by sustainable solutions. Mining is the very opposite of sustainable. It has long proven to be destructive – many lives were lost to mining-related disasters and the environment permanently destroyed. This is a disastrous Earth Day for mining-affected communities,” said Jaybee Garganera, Green Thumb Coalition Convenor, and ATM National Coordinator.

ATM stated in a previous statement that Pres. Duterte has completed his turn around, from claiming to protect the environment and stop the destruction of forests by destructive mining to a pro-mining president.

“Pres. Duterte betrayed us when he failed to fulfill his promise of passing an executive order banning open-pit mining. This issuance of EO130 is more than just a betrayal. It is a blatant attack on the environment and the future generations,” expressed Lilak National Coordinator and ATM Council of Leader, Judy Pasimio.

“The theme of Earth Day this year is ‘Restore Our Earth’ but the President, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, and Department of Finance (DoF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez decided to contribute to its wreckage – they are traitors of the environment who serve mining companies and not the people,” added Pasimio.

“Human rights violations have always been present in mining areas but the cases increased and worsened during the Duterte administration. Who will benefit from this order? It is the mining companies: the human rights violators and drivers of environmental destruction. EO130 will endanger the remaining forest cover and livelihood of millions of Filipinos,” said Rene Pamplona, Chairman of ATM and Convergence of Initiative for Environmental Justice (CIEJ).

“Duterte is not innocent. He has reiterated ‘not under my watch’ on mining companies bringing further destruction to the environment. The President only proved his incompetence in dealing with this pandemic and has failed millions of his followers and supporters,” he added.

National Coordinator of Bantay Kita, Vince Lazatin said, “EO130 amended the Section 4 of EO79 where the moratorium is stated. The moratorium was placed on new mining activities so we can create a new mining fiscal regime due to the recognition that mining companies were not paying their fair share. In the Philippines, the average mining tax rate paid by mining companies is below 40%. Globally, the effective average is 50% and above. This means that what mining companies in the Philippines pay in the form of taxes and royalties is below the global average. Why is it that Philippine mining companies pay less than the global average?”

“The premise of EO79 when passed in 2012 was economic, that the contribution of the mining industry was very low at less than 2 percent. Meanwhile, it has negative impacts on top contributing industries such as agriculture and tourism. For example in Palawan, Tampakan and Davao, the effects are seen downstream. The most significant impact for indigenous peoples is militarization and internal conflicts within the tribe,” said former Ifugao Representative and AMMB author, Teodoro “Teddy” Baguilat.

“We have legislators who are for the ban of open-pit mining because it will affect their area of jurisdiction. There are also legislators who have interests in mining, which is why AMMB is not heard in Congress. This sudden U-turn of the President is a surprise after his earlier opposition to destructive mining,” added Baguilat.

“In the time of crisis where people need clean sources of food and water and good health, it is ironic that the President is now supporting the mining companies he used to criticize. There are a lot of problems with resources on small islands. Why is this not being prioritized? We condemn the issuance of EO130 and we call for the passage of AMMB,” stated Elizabeth Ibanez, Chairwoman of Sibuyanon Against Mining (SAM) in Sibuyan Island, Romblon.

“We experience the same challenge here in Nueva Vizcaya. Mining affects the water supply that flows downstream to Cagayan Valley. During the pandemic, Oceanagold proved that recorded violations in the 2016 mining audit were right. On April 5th last year, we were forcefully dispersed. EO130 will affect the renewal process of Oceanagold and the lives of indigenous peoples in our barangay; our livelihood, natural resources, and human rights,” said Myrna Duyan, Chairwoman of Bileg Dagitii Babbae in Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.

“We, as youth from Marinduque, have been calling upon President Duterte to reject mining. We have not been compensated and we are already facing a new problem which is EO130. Marinduque suffered from the disaster brought by the Barrick Gold – Placer Dome Inc. last March 1996, almost 25 years of destruction. Lifting the mining moratorium will multiply the burdens of our community. We haven’t recovered yet from the tragedy and there is another disaster that our province will face. This government remains greedy amidst this pandemic,” said Sabrina Joshua Lourenz Fronda, Chairperson of Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns – Youth.

“We are in solidarity with Alyansa Tigil Mina in demanding the cancellation of Executive Order 130. We are a part of the CBCP National Laudato Si Program which helps to promulgate the lessons of Laudato Si. In the perspective of Laudato Si, there is a problem in the way that we understand the role of humans in our ecology. The COVID19 virus was only an effect of the assault of humans to the natural world due to massive development aggression. And still, the government continues to support those extractive industries that have been one of the reasons for this pandemic. Pope Francis calls upon the economical conversion to everyone, in politics, economy, and to our faith,” stated Brother John Din of the Global Climate Change Movement.

“We are originally involved in drafting EO79, the principles we thought is i) government should get a return as the owner of raw materials, it should be 50-50 sharing in net revenues that is equivalent for 5% excise tax and 30% income tax; ii) we should have the cap on its return when we are the owner of the raw materials, the cap should be in the mining company which is given a 15% which is very high for them as a rate for them; iii) there must be insurance in disasters. The economy said undermining the benefits are privatized and the cost is commercialized and we should change that principle” stated by Christian Mongsod, Chairman of Commission of Elections

The group calls for the immediate cancellation of EO130 and the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) in Congress.

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