By Kalikasan PNE
On the 20th year anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995, hundreds of indigenous peoples, environmental advocates and grassroots activists marched to Malacanang today bearing torches, makeshift spears, and a 10-foot effigy depicting President Noynoy Aquino as a backhoe-bulldozer monster. The protesters called for the scrapping of the mining law and the resignation of Aquino, saying “this policy brought two decades of pollution and plunder, and this pernicious president pushed its implementation to the breaking point.”
“The Mining Act of 1995 is a complete failure—from its sell-out of our national patrimony, to its perpetuation of a culture of impunity towards mining-affected communities, down to its unending string of environmental disasters. That Aquino perpetuated more of the same is a betrayal of the people and is basis enough for his resignation,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
Sr. Mary Francis Anonuevo, spokesperson of the Defend Patrimony! Alliance, further explained that “under BS Aquino’s five years of presidency, we experienced the biggest mining disaster in history, the most number of anti-mining activists killed, hundreds of billions of pesos worth of minerals depleted, and massive destruction of our biodiversity rich areas. Mining-affected communities have long suffered from Aquino’s criminal greed and neglect, and are calling for the scrapping of the Mining Act and for Aquino’s resignation.”
With Aquino’s presidency not taking any measures to reverse the orientation of the Mining Act, two decades under this policy regime have produced the following:
- The number of large-scale mine projects increased from 17 to 46, and the number of approved mining applications increased from 282 to 999 covering 869,292 hectares (1997-2014)
- The Philippines received only 10 percent of the average total gross production value in mining, as mining production value amounted to P1.31 trillion while taxes, fees and royalties amounted only to P132.39 billion (1997-2013)
- The industry contributed only 0.44 percent to the employment rate and 0.7 percent to the GDP (1997-2013)
- A total of at least 19 major mining disasters were recorded, none of which were properly or sufficiently rehabilitated and compensated to date (1995-2015). Philex mining spill in 2012 was the worst accident in recent mining history.
- A total of at least 66 cases of extrajudicial killings of anti-mining activists were recorded, none of which have been resolved in any court to date (2001 to 2014). Thirty seven of these cases occurred under Aquino.
“It is only under the Aquino regime that colonial-era mining patents, which essentially grant full and perpetual rights over mineral lands to mining corporations, were revived. This goes to show Noynoy Aquino’s disregard of our constitutionally guaranteed national patrimony, and how shameless pro-corporate his Administration is,” Bautista explained.
Amidst growing public clamor to pass proposed new mining policies such as House Bill 171 or the People’s Mining Bill, Aquino responded with the Executive Order 79 (EO 79) which overrode local environment codes and mining moratoriums and other national laws concerning large-scale mining. The Aquino administration also prioritized House Bill 5367 in Congress which would only minimally increase taxation, albeit still favoring corporate mining.
“BS Aquino should resign. It would be much better for our environment and indigenous peoples if such a callous and incompetent president will be removed from Malacanang!” Anonuevo ended.#
Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator – Kalikasan PNE – 0922 844 9787