Mining Act caused corruption, conflicts, killings—groups, solons

Priests and community leaders picket in front of a field office of Norwegian mining firm Intex in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro.


Instead of bringing the promised prosperity 16 year after it was enacted, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 caused not only environmental destruction, but also graft and corruption, conflicts in mining communities and extrajudicial killings.

Thus the Minerals Management Bill Now Network (MMB Now! Network) is calling for the mining law’s immediate repeal and the enactment of an alternative mining act to regulate the exploration, development and utilization of the country’s minerals resources.

“For more than a decade and a half, contrary to the promises of development and prosperity that comes with the enactment of the Mining Act of 1995, the Filipino people have only witnessed and become victims of the havoc that the foreign-dominated mining industry has brought to our country,” said Judy Pasimio, executive director of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center.

“Human rights violations amongst indigenous peoples and communities, mining-related extrajudicial killings, division amongst communities, environmental destructions, cases of bribery amongst government institutions, non-payment of taxes, and undermining of local governance have all been main-stay features under the 16th year history of the mining law,” said Pasimio.

Religious leaders also reiterated their call to repeal the country’s mining law.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has consistently called for the abrogation of the country’s mining law.

“The CBCP has issued pastoral statements in 1998 and 2006, calling for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. As pastors, we have witnessed how the faithful has struggled to defend the integrity of creation. Our experiences of environmental tragedies belie claims and assurances of responsible mining,” Pabillo said.

CBCP spokesman Bishop Deogracias Iniguez said mining projects failed to lift people out of poverty.

Iniguez said the CBCP has observed that “mining areas remain among the poorest areas in the country such as the mining communities in CARAGA, Bicol and Cordillera Regions.”

At the same time, he said the country’s indigenous peoples face serious challenges when confronted with mining as “the cultural fabric of indigenous peoples is also being destroyed by the entry of mining corporations.”

In Congress, bills pushing for the enactment of alternative mining laws have been filed.

Representative Erin Tañada III filed House Bill 206 or the Alternative Mining Bill (AMB) while Representatives Kaka Bag-ao, Walden Bello, Teddy Baguilat Jr., Rufus Rodriguez, Maximo Rodriguez, Carlos Padilla and Roilo Golez filed House Bill 3763 or the Minerals Management Bill (MMB).

Tañada said his proposed measure is a response in regulating the exploration, development and utilization of the country’s minerals resources.

“This bill, if passed into law, will correct all the mistakes and negative effects that the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 has brought to our country and the AMB puts communities, human rights, conservation of our mineral and natural resources, and genuine national development at the center,” he said.

Bag-ao, on the other hand, said their proposed measure wants to ensure that mineral extraction is not done at the expense of the environment and the communities.

“The MMB envisions that if we ever need to extract our mineral resources it should be for the benefit of the Filipino people and not for the interest of foreign and domestic mining corporations,” Bag-ao said.

“The MMB will ensure that any mineral extraction done in the country, it should be geared towards genuine national industrialization and modernization of our agriculture,” said Bag-ao.

Baguilat said the current mining law violates the rights of the indigenous people.

“Under the Mining Act of 1995 the rights of indigenous peoples on their ancestral domains, territories and resources, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) requirements for indigenous communities, to name a few, have been undermined by irresponsible mining, some corrupt government officials, and most mining companies,” Baguilat said.

He said the MMB “ensures that the right of our indigenous brothers and sisters are respected and protected, specifically that of their right to their lands, territories and resources and that equitable share from any mineral extraction within their ancestral domains is assured.”

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, stressed that the current Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is inadequate in addressing serious challenges that face the country, including climate change, disaster risk reduction and globalization.

“Our studies show that mining has contributed very little to economic growth because of the too liberal incentives given by the current mining law,” Garganera said.

“There really is an urgent need to pass a new mining law that will comply with climate change, disaster-risk reduction and the globalizing economy,” he said.

He said if mining companies “are really serious about responsible mining, then they should support these two pending bills, as these capture comprehensively the genuine practice of mining responsibly.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s