THE Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) is calling for a review of the decision of by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez to close and suspend mining operations in the country.
The claims the closures and suspensions of mining operations could lead to “expansive poverty.”
In a statement on Tuesday, ECoP president Donald Dee said that the closure and suspension of 28 mines and the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will “adversely affect the employment and livelihood of millions of people, including the families and businesses that rely on mining.”
Lopez talked about available resources to rehabilitate the mining sites for eco-tourism that will generate jobs in “two years,” but the 1.2 million people that will lose their jobs will not immediately have any alternative sources of income, he claimed.
“This will fling the door wide open to expansive poverty with far-reaching consequences as to even drive the poor to feel oppressed and force them to join radical elements that will threaten the security of the state,” Dee said.
Most of the mining firms, he said, are located in relatively poor provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Since mining companies operate in ancestral lands of indigenous people (IP), the closure and suspension of these mining firms will also halt royalty payments to IPs, ECoP noted. This is equivalent to 1 percent of the gross sales of the mining companies amounting to billions of pesos.
In January 2017 alone, royalty payments by 10 mining firms in the Caraga region amounted to P270 million, according to the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
LGUs get a 40-percent share from the 2 percent excise taxes paid by mining companies on their annual gross revenue, the ECoP official said.
In Surigao and Agusan provinces, excise tax payments amounted to P2.1 billion from 2013 to 2015, on data from MGB regional offices showed.
“The economic implications will escalate to national proportion that can hurt the country’s economic growth,” Dee alleged.
He recommended that transparency and due process be observed in addressing the audit findings on these companies.