Groups, progressive party-lists file pro-Filipino, pro-environment mining bill

A NATIONAL alliance against mining liberalization and large-scale mining, Defend Patrimony, Wednesday filed the People’s Mining Bill  at the House of Representatives aimed to protect the environment.

“It is time to scrap the Mining Act of 1995. The People’s Mining Bill (PMB), if passed, would end the pro-foreign and environmentally destructive mining policy of President Aquino. The PMB will radically shift the mining industry towards building national industrialization and genuine protection of the environment while upholding human rights,” says Pia Malayao, spokeperson of Defend Patrimony.

The Mining Act of 1995, which was authored by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during her years as a Senator was passed 16 years ago during her term as President through the reversal of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the 100% ownership of foreign companies is unconstitutional. This was allowed even if the Philippine constitution states that national patrimony, which includes natural resources, should be controlled and used exclusively for the benefit of the Filipino People.

“In the People’s Mining bill, the 100% ownership of foreign mining companies will be prohibited. Although foreign and local partnerships will still allowed, preferential treatment will be given to Filipino companies who want to invest in the industry. The extractive character of the mining industry as supported by the Mining Act of 1995 will be ended. In the PMB, downstream industries will be built for the processing of our mineral and metal resources for our national industrialization and agricultural modernization,” says Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of  advocates of science and technology for the people and convenor of Defend Patrimony.

“The environment will be protected. Environmentally critical areas such as small-island ecosystems, forests and watersheds will be exempted from mining,” says Clemente Bautista of environmental group Kalikasan PNE, also a convenor of Defend Patrimony.

“Human rights will be upheld.  Stakeholders will be properly consulted and will be encouraged to participate in the monitoring of the mining operations. The use of military and paramilitary forces to guard mining areas will be disallowed. Also, mining companies with bad track records, either here or abroad will not be granted mining concessions.”

“If this bill will be passed, a moratorium on new mining activities will be imposed until the systems for the implementation of the Act are in place.”

“The People’s Mining Bill contains the People’s vision of how the mining industry in the Philippines should be: based on social justice, respect for people’s rights and welfare, environmental conservation, defense of national sovereignty and patrimony and national industrialization,” Bautista explained.-D’Jay Lazaro

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