Stop the Plunder of our Mineral Resources,
Reject the Government's Mineral Action Plan!
A Statement by Kalikasan-People's Network for the
Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), Haribon Foundation, Youth for Sustainable
Devolopment Assocition (YSDA), Legal-Resource Center (LRC-KsK),
Philippine Federation for Environmental Concerns (PFEC), Center
for Environmental Concerns (CEC), Task Force Macalajar, AGHAM,
Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP), and HEAL
The Arroyo administration stubbornly refuses to
heed the people's protests on the aborted National Minerals Policy
(NMP). It is again risking a major policy rift with the people.
Last year, we made the people's position clear
against liberalizing the mining industry by trashing the NMP.
Now, the abhorrent policy is back with a draft Mineral Action
Plan (MAP) that is a lot worse. MAP is a grand plan of the government
to subvert the people's rights and abandon the welfare of our
environment. It is a clear sell-out not only of our minerals but
the mineral industry itself to foreign investors.
Even as we have grown tired of repeatedly pointing out the deficiencies
and fundamental flaws of the government's mining agenda, we reiterate
positions, to wit:
We oppose the liberalization of the mining industry.
Hidden behind the government's call, recognizing the "critical
role" of investments in the minerals industry is a subliminal
message that the country must fully liberalize the sector in order
to attain goals of national development and poverty alleviation.
In the nine-year implementation of the mining liberalization strategy,
the minerals industry failed to develop; actually it further declined.
This is not because of people's protests, as the industry accuses,
but this is largely due to its historical dependence on the world
market which has suffered from a severe slump in metal prices
for the past decades. All these years, the government has allowed
massive destruction and exploitation of our forest and mineral
resources primarily to satisfy the profit-making appetites of
a few local and transnational mining corporations.
· We resist the extractive, export-oriented
and import-dependent nature of the
minerals industry. We expect the government to develop the mining
industry based on a strategic framework of national industrialization
rather than a relentless exposure to the vagaries of the world
market for minerals and metals. With a strategic plan for mineral
and industrial development, extraction of mineral resources can
be prioritized if not limited to our country's need for economic
progress, thus, immediately minimizing destructive impacts. We
similarly create more jobs in the long term. We cut back on mining
for short-term goals of
profit for local and TNC mining, of earning foreign exchange for
our foreign debt, or of meeting the wayward demands of the world
MAP's concession to the people's demands, with the phrases "value-adding"
and the "development of downstream industries" leaves
much to be heard. Without the explication of clear cut directions,
it is patently lip-service. We are not satisfied with the MAP's
phrasing of the development of downstream industries because,
the whole policy framework of MAP is premised on " a policy
shift from tolerance to promotion" of mining for the interest
of investors and does not depart from the export orientation of
· We demand promotion and protection of our biodiversity.
Nowhere is this recognized in the MAP, yet which is more important:
the profits of mining TNCs or the rich but threatened Philippine
biodiversity that sustains life and is indeed life itself?
Even as there exists a woeful gap between declared protected areas
and equally critical but unprotected conservation and biodiversity
areas, the MAP indifferently claims concern for "rapidly
expanding NIPAS (National Integrated Protected Areas System) areas."
As such, MAP would now allow mining industry stakeholders to take
part in committees identifying protected areas, opening the doors
to a dilution of the NIPAS goals of conserving important biodiversity
areas in order to give way to mineral development.
Genuine economic growth cannot be achieved at the expense of a
degraded ecosystem and irreversible biodiversity loss. Given our
country's rich but threatened biodiversity, it is more to the
national interest to preserve this richness than to prioritize
revenue generation through mining projects.
· We want environmentally destructive mining technologies
stopped. MAP feigns sustainability by stating that it will ensure
the adoption of "efficient technologies" through the
judicious extraction and optimum utilization of mineral resources.
On the other hand, it remains silent about the present conditions
that environmentally-destructive technologies like open-pit or
strip mining and submarine tailings disposal systems are prevalent
mainly because of the extractive nature of the industry that is
profit-driven and have low priority to the environment.
· We demand the protection and advancement of the rights
of the people. MAP threatens to further subvert people's rights
in an undisguised attempt to
shortcut procedures, bypass local government units critical of
mining projects and undermine whatever little legal safeguards
left regarding the social acceptability of such projects. The
"harmonization" of conflicting provision of other laws
such as NIPAS and Local Government Code towards the Mining Act
"simplification" of the issuance of Free and Prior Informed
Consent is an obvious step to fast track the approval of projects
and entry of transnational mining companies in the communities.
It is all the more dangerous considering how people in mining
communities are also often coerced with threats and actual physical
harm, even death, when opposing destructive mining projects.
· We demand that environmental justice be
pursued. MAP falls short of making past errant mining companies
pay for their environmental crimes, and instead only intends to
implement stop-gap measures on critical mine sites, while proposing
economic incentives schemes for companies to rehabilitate closed
down mines. Worse, even as it is only now that the government
is trying to identify policy options regarding abandoned mines,
MAP appears more concerned with the "redevelopment"
of such mines rather than correcting the damages to the environment
and injustice on the people that the mining operations have caused.