• The current status of the ‘Three Green Bills’

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    ON July 25, green groups advancing the passage of the “Three Green Bills” namely National Land Use Act (NLUA), Forest Resources Bill (FRB) and Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) made their way, full-force to Quezon Memorial Circle to call on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to recognize the bills that are known to be the hope for our environment.

    Currently, NLUA is passed in the lower house and being tackled by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda. FRB on the other hand is under the deliberation of the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) by both houses of Congress. The two bills focusing on land use and forest resource are both on their way into becoming a more concrete reality, however, the third component of the green bill that would have fully ensured the positive ways forward of the environment is experiencing a less favorable future.

    The Alternative Minerals Management Bill seeking to replace Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 79 up to this very moment is struggling to make its way to the Congress. Though the bill has gained many supports from both local communities and parts of the House of Representatives, its whereabouts in the path of success is stuck under the deliberation of the TWG.

    AMMB champions conservation of non-renewable mineral resources for the benefit of both present and future generations of Filipinos by adopting a sustainable, rational, needs-based minerals management geared towards effective utilization of mineral resources for an ecologically-sound national industrialization and modernization of agriculture.

    Its major provisions tackle the conservation of our mineral resources, proper development and utilization of our mineral resources, right and ownership of indigenous peoples to these resources who are one of the mostly affected communities by mining operations, a clear distinction and implementation of mining no-go zones, a more favorable mineral agreement for Filipino citizens and Filipino corporations, an establishment of a stricter monitoring, implementation and compliance of corporate transparency and accountability and of course, equitable sharing.

    Looking at what AMMB can offer, it is really quite a surprise that this bill is facing strife when clearly, it is a hope for a sustainable future, not just for the environment but for the Filipino people. It is not a secret that the Philippines is one of the blessed nations when it comes to mineral resources and currently, the law governing our mining operations in the country has not proven its efficiency in properly utilizing and developing our mineral resources. According to MGB latest data as of July 2014, the mining industry has only contributed a total of 0.7 percent in the country’s Gross Domestic Product, a few loose change to be dramatic but sadly precise. It’s like a “buy one-take one”, or maybe even a “pakyawan” in Divisoria for international and transnational extractive companies here in the Philippines, only difference is unlike in Divisoria where vendors go home heartily after the “pakyawan”, the Philippines is left with immense environmental destruction, barren lands, polluted bodies of water, dead wildlife, displaced communities, and destructed ecosystems – all because of the inefficiencies and gaps of the Mining Act of 1995 and EO79.

    It is time that these unfair and viscous “pakyawan” stops. The Philippine mineral resources belong to the Filipinos. These resources should be used and not abused by anyone, as given a proper treatment for its development and utilization, the very minerals, that we give away in an unfair and inequitable bargain can help our nation, our environment and our people reach a more positive and sustainable trajectory.

    By supporting AMMB and all the other Green Bills, we can ensure a brighter future for the environment and for the generations to come. It is every Filipino’s responsibility to ensure environmental justice and participate in ensuring the country’s sustainable future.

    To know more about Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), visit: alyansatigilmina.net/ Telephone: 63-2 -440-3211 Fax:63-2 -440-3211

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