PHILIPPINES FOR SALE! Mining? It's MORE FUN!

A REVIEW ON THE SALIENT FEATURES OF PHILIPPINE MINING ACT OF 1995 (R.A. 7942)



Philippines has seven thousand one hundred seven isalnds (7,107) scattered all over three (3) racial regions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, subdivided into fourteen (14) tribal regions. Stretching out thirty six thousand, two hundred eighty nine (36, 289) kilometers country's coastline boast of abounding coastal and marine ecosystem are incessantly altered by both natural and anthropogenic forces. Putting our country being one of the Hot Spots of Biodiversity in the World.

In an effort to revive the country's ailing mining industry, Philippine lawmakers passed into law the the proposed MINING ACT OF 1995 (RA 7942). As previous laws were deemed too restrictive especially for foreign investors. RA 7942 has granted among others the free hand foreign companies to exploit vast tracts of mineral rich land covering hundreds of thousands of hectares of Philippine soil under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA)

RA 7942 placed our mineral resources under foreign control and exploitations. The result Filipino communities suffers the curse of Environmental Abuse.

MINERAL WEALTH IN ABUNDANCE

Our country's latest tourism slogan says "IT'S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES" Yes! it's really more fun for foreign who are engaged in mining, because they are permitted to explore our mineral resources in land/soil and in coastal areas through the issuance of FTAA.

We showcased our mineral wealth in abundance statistically we rank as number 2 for gold endowment and number 3 worldwide for copper. We have a massive reserves of mineral concentrations that can be mined for profit.

Mineral resources are classified into two, That is metallic and non-metallic. Cement, marbles, limestone are examples of a non-metallic minerals. Gold, copper, chromite and nickel on the other hand are examples of metallic minerals. These four are also the country's most valuable mineral reserves.

MINING, IS IT MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES?

If you ask the communities benefited from what they call responsible mining and the corporations who profit from extraction  of our mineral resources, They must answer us Yes!.

The Philippine Mining Industry is composed of Large-scale corporate and small-scale mining. Large-scale mining is capital intensive. It uses advanced technology and machines, it employs a smaller workforce compared to small-scale mining.

Small-scale mining (SSM) dates back  earlier that the Philippines' recorded history particularly Cordilleras. Traditional small-scale mining (i.e pocket mining or gold panning) is practiced by the indigenous people here which has eventually been adopted by settlers. This involves the whole community, where the men, women and children take part in the production process.

Large-scale corporate mining in the Philippines began in 1842 when the first copper mine was opened in Benguet. The Spaniards then encroached in the ancestral lands of the Igorots. The passage of the Public lands Act in 1902 and the Mining Act of 1905 under the Americans removed from the Igorots their rights to their lands. From then own other large-scale operations followed suit.

DOWN THE DRAIN

The mining industry contributes significantly to the economy in terms of sizeable foreign exchange receipts from export sales, tax revenues for the government, formation of auxiliary industries and infrastructure development. Other corporations funds for scholars like the Lepanto Mining in Mangkayan, Benguet did. The industry contributed P4.3 billion in taxes to government coffers for the period 1980-1993. The following years however recorded low returns for the industry. It recovered slightly in 1985-1986. There after, it was on a downtrend.

R.A. 7942, TO THE RESCUE

Philippine legislators hope to save the mining industry through the Mining Act of 1995 or RA7942. This law provides a host of incentives by which government expect to entice foreign investors to infuse much needed capital to revived the industry.

Among others, foreign investors are given one hundred percent (100 %) control over large-scale mining in the country. Besides this, they have the right to fully repatriate their profits to their mother countries, freedom from expropriation or immunity from government's right to sequester their mineral lands claim for whatever purposes or reason; freedom from requisition of investment.

TOO SWEET TO RESIST

As expected, there was a deluge of FTAA applications from the moment the Mining Act of 1995 was approved. Government fast-tracked the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations for the law so foreign companies may immediately conduct their explorations. Dominated by Australians (34). followed by the Canadiand (16), the Americans (10) and Hongkong (3). Only one (1) application is technically Filipino-Benguet Corporation of the Ayalas and partly owned by the Broken Hill Propriety of the USA. (As of 1996). In those listings, the newly issued FTAA for the extractions of Black Sand Mining, offshore and onshore mining all over the country are not yet included.

NOMADS IN THEIR OWN LAND

Most of the peasants and indigenous people live on the upland areas. Auxiliary mining rights will effectively displace these people both socially and economically. While they may no be physically dislocated, their economic activities will be limited as these will be prohibited in the mining claims of certain mining company. Moreover, the resulting ecological instability as a result of environmental degradation will further displace the people economically as they would derived of their regular sources of income and sustenance.

The following are reasons raised why indigenous people opposed the operation of mining in their places:
  • loss of vegetation from deforestation
  • aesthetic defacement of land forms
  • slope destabilization
  • soil erosion
  • water resource degeneration
  • desertification and
  • contamination of headwaters of major river systems by mine waste and tailings siltation of irrigation canals and farmlands.

SELLING NATIONAL PATRIMONY 

& EFFECTS OF MINING TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Pertinent provisions in RA 7942 grants to foreign companies the complete control of our mineral resources and the infrastructural development within their mineral claims, free from government expropriation for a period of fifty (50) years extended for another twenty five (25) years. They are free to utilize , to exploit our mineral resources for whatever purpose it may serve them. Furthermore they enjoy auxiliary mining rights that provide additional lucrative sources of income like timber, water and even bio-prospecting.

In exchange, the government stands to gain precious dollar revenues. On top of the P18.750 billion initial financial commitments the government expects to get once from the 30 FTAA applications approved revenues in taxes and governments share on the net are considerably big.

Is this a good sale? A win-win situation for the country? Not quite. When it is National Patrimony involved, the vendor will always be on the losing end.

Any country must maintain effective control over its natural resources for the purposes of economic sovereignty, political reasons, resource utilization management and environmental management by relinquishing control , the country is left open to blackmail in times of economic policy disagreements. This is besides loss of opportunity and maximum gain from its natural wealth for its industrialization program. W become helpless in cases of over-exploitation of a non-replenishable resource, extensive environmental degradation and political conflict.

The FTAAs over wide area of forested highlands invite untold and irreversible environmental damage and degradation. Mining is an ecologically threatening industry due principally to the raw exploitation of limited resources and the large volume of toxic main wastes and tailing that destroy land and water resources. The common practice of open-pit mining will increase the damage to mountains and forests. This will adversely affect the topography and ecological balance.

This exploitation and damage should be factored into the equation. In the end, losses to agricultural and fishing communities from contamination of rivers, irrigation systems, potable water supply and coastal areas, not to mention the danger of floods and similar calamities will outbalance whatever monetary gains the government hopes to earn from mining project.

The mining Act of 1995 does not improve nor advance the mining industry nor the economy as a whole. More than anything, it will only multiply several fold foreign investments to an extractive industry to supply the industrialized countries' demand for raw materials. It promotes mineral ore exploitations ans exports.

References:
People's Policy and Advocacy Studies
IBON Special Release 1996
MGB-Philippines
Defend Ilocos Against Mining Plunder
Yahoo Photos


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