Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment urged Congress to scrap the Philippines’ mining law, which the group claimed only “favored the plunder” of the country’s natural resources.
The group made the call after the House Committee on Natural Resources approved the People’s Mining Bill, a proposed measure that seeks to replace the Mining Act of 1995.
Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of Kalikasan, said for almost three decades, the existing mining law “deprived local communities of access to land and natural resources, kept the domestic economy underdeveloped, and destroyed the environment at an appalling scale.”
He said some of the country’s worst ecological disaster including the 1996 Marcopper mining disaster where tons of mine tailings leaked into the Boac river; the 2005 Rapu-Rapu mine cyanide spills that caused massive fish kills in Albay; and the 2012 tailings pond leak in the Philex mine that leaked over twenty million metric tons of mine waste to water systems of Tuba, Benguet, occurred “during the implementation of the mining act.”
“The Mining Act of 1995 has been challenged twice in court for being unconstitutional because it allows fully foreign owned-corporations to explore, develop, utilize, and exploit natural resources,” he said.
The proposed measure aims to cover not only the exploration, development, use, processing and transportation of the country’s mineral resources but also regulation of use.
Bonifacio said the proposed law “reorients the current policy” on the ownership, management and governance of metallic and non-metallic minerals, quarry resources, and gemstones from the current framework that sees foreign investment as the only way to develop the mining industry.”
“It aims to develop Philippine mineral resources — not for export as is the current practice, but for the needs of our own environmentally-sustainable national industrialization and the much-needed development of our agricultural sector,” he added.