A big mining lobby on Wednesday said that the proposed alternative mining bill to be filed in Congress is “designed to kill the responsible mining industry” in the country.
In a statement, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said that there is no need to repeal the existing Mining Act of 1995, or Republic Act (RA) 7942, saying that it is “already more than adequately addresses” the concerns raised by the alternative bill’s proponents.
“RA 7942 is a world-class piece of legislation that already balances the interests not only of the mining industry and the State, but also fully considers the rights of host communities, indigenous peoples and the environment,” the chamber said, citing the paper written by COMP Vice President for Legal and Policy Ronald Recidoro.
In fact, COMP said that the Mining Act and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) have laid down a well thought-out and detailed environmental protection plan that more than adequately addresses the perceived environmental concerns.
Recidoro, in his paper, said that the proposals of the so-called alternative mining bill “run contrary to the principle of State ownership of all natural resources enshrined in Article XII of the Constitution.”
He also noted that the draft bill only covers the exploration, development and utilization of onshore mineral resources and quarry resources, but excludes offshore mining, petroleum and coal—yet aims to cancel all mining permits, licenses and agreements, including exploration permits, Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) and Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs).
“It also aims to reduce the Mines and Geosciences Bureau [MGB] from the government regulator of the mining industry to a scientific research institution limited only to [noninvasive]exploration, monitoring and regulation of mining operations,” Recidoro said.
The MGB, an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is the only government agency with the technical knowledge and expertise essential for the rational exploration, development and use of the country’s mineral resources, he added.
Recidoro cited another proposal of the draft bill, which aims to give “private collective ownership” of natural resources within ancestral domains to indigenous peoples (IP).
“It is a proposal that undermines the principle of the State’s control of all natural resources in the country as enshrined in Article XII of the Constitution,” he said.
Article XII sets the rules on the national economy and patrimony. It emphasizes the State’s ownership of all natural resources in the country, including minerals, and allows the President to enter into contracts with corporations for large-scale exploration, development and utilization of materials.
The alternative mining bill is also pushing for the removal/prohibition on full foreign participation and limiting the eligibility to engage in mining activities only to Filipino citizens or 60-percent Filipino-controlled corporations; increasing the government’s share in the mineral agreement to 10 percent of the gross revenue and imposing royalty payments to indigenous cultural communities to 10 percent of gross revenues.