THE Philippine Misereor Partnership (PMP) has announced a six-point proposal for the new mining policy President Benigno Aquino is expected to issue within the month.
The group, which consists of NGOs and Church groups in partnership with Misereor of Germany, called on Aquino to rethink the current mining policy he inherited from the previous administration “aggressively promoting mining as a key economic driver.”
Top on the list of what they want the government to do is “mine only what we need for our national development,” the group said in a statement.
“We should identify strategic metals for our national development anchored on our agricultural development. The minerals that have been mined and still being mined today are simply extracted by companies mostly foreign-owned and shipped to home countries of such companies.”
PMP also wants the new mining policy to respect and protect “no-go-zones” or restricted areas, ensure punishment for corporate abuses, allow people’s participation in management and decision making, promote “urban mining” or metal recycling, and recognize and respect local autonomy.
The no-go-zones include conflict areas, key biodiversity areas, small-island ecosystem and prime agricultural lands.
The group’s position was firmed up at the end of a three-day summit last week attended by 300 participants including PMP partners and members of communities affected by mining operations.
“We, the Aetas of Zambales, and other indigenous tribes would like to appeal to the president to value and truly consider our well-being and development. It is in agriculture and not in mining,” said Carlito Dumulot, leader of a tribal group allied with PMP in Central Luzon.
Fr Edwin Gariguez, co-convenor of PMP and executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s National Secretariat for Social Action, said: “As pointed out in these policy considerations, there is a need for greater accountability of mining corporations and access to justice of victims of corporate abuses. The respect, protect and remedy framework of the UN principle on business and human rights, to which the Philippine government was one of the signatories, is very clear on this.”
Myrna Llanes of PMP Bicol said victims of the Rapu-Rapu mine tailing disaster in 2005 that damaged 13 villages in Albay province have yet to get justice from the corporations responsible for what she calls “environmental crimes.”
Meanwhile, the cabinet clusters on economy and climate change are meeting Friday to discuss the issue. Their main concern is for the government to get a “fair share” of mining revenues, which they admit is relatively small compared to the revenues generated by the industry.
Their input will be considered in the executive order on comprehensive policy guidelines on mining that has been delayed to give way to more consultations with stakeholders.
Report from ucanews.com