By Kalikasan PNE
QUEZON CITY — Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) trooped to the House of Representatives today to express its support to the re-filing of the People’s Mining Bill (PMB) by the new chairperson of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate, urging the Duterte administration to ‘fast-track’ the bill as a priority legislation.
“As the People’s Mining Bill is re-filed in Congress once again, it is truly high time not just to suspend erring mining companies but to decisively pass a new policy that will end the vicious cycle of resource plunder, environmental destruction, and people’s suffering. President Duterte and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez have been vocal and active in their campaign to suspend mining companies with clear negative track records. The PMB must be passed to ensure these efforts will not be undone,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Since July this year, Sec. Gina Lopez has suspended at least seven (7) mining companies in Zambales, Palawan, and Bulacan, and has also vowed to conduct a comprehensive audit of all existing mining projects.
“The current mining law, the Mining Act of 1995, requires companies to pay only a two-percent income tax while allowing the wholesale plunder of our country’s natural resources and inflicting massive human rights violations against mining-affected communities. The passage of the PMB will radically reorient our mining industry from being profit oriented and insufficiently regulated towards a framework based on people’s needs, environmental safety, and genuine national industrialization and development,” said Bautista.
The mining industry has continued to negligibly contribute to the Philippine economy, comprising only 0.7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and only 0.6 percent of its total employment rate. Government shares from mining in taxes, royalties and fees amounted to Php 22.83 billion in 2013 or a measly 1.33% of total tax revenues.
Under the proposed PMB, government shall have a share of more than the current gross revenues shares from development and utilization of mineral resources. Additionally, In case of mineral operations within ancestral domains, the contractor shall allot least ten percent (10%) of the gross revenues as royalty to the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples aside from required community development programs.
“The passage of the PMB will in fact initiate the formulation of a National Mining Plan that will ensure that all mining activities in the country will strategically lead to the development of downstream heavy industries and the modernization of our agriculture. Monitoring mechanisms with greater participation from local communities, people’s organizations and non-government organizations will also be instituted to ensure environmental protection and welfare of mining host communities,” explained Bautista.
“We challenge the Duterte administration to mobilize its ‘super majority’ coalition in Congress to support Rep. Zarate’s push to pass this landmark mining reform law,” ended Bautista.#
Reference: Clemente Bautista, 0905 432 5211