Progressive party-list bloc hits new mining policy-A A +A
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
MEMBERS of the progressive party-list bloc in the House of Representatives criticized Malacañang's issuance of Executive Order (EO) 79, which they say fails to realize the threats caused by mining to the environment.
The Palace released on Monday EO 79, which prohibits the state from granting new mining agreements until a new legislation on revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms is passed. It seeks to boost government revenues through the five-percent royalty tax on new extractions to in areas to be declared as mineral reservations.
Party-list representatives Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna), Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela), and Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers) said the EO does not veer away from Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995.
"The mining EO does not intend to change the current expansive spread of mining operations in the country. It does not intend to protect communities or make mining companies liable for the damage that has been inflicted on our resources," Ilagan said.
Casino, for his part, said that EO 79 "will only aggravate the mining status quo, at most it will only increase the National Government's income but it is inimical to the environment and the Filipino people."
The three lawmakers are instead pushing for House Bill 4315, otherwise known as the Alternative Minerals Management Bill or the People's Mining Bill, pending in the House committee on natural resources.
The measure proposes that the government shall have at least a 10-percent share of the gross revenues from the development and utilization of mineral resources.
In case of mineral operations within ancestral domains, the contractor shall also allot at least 10 percent of the gross revenues as royalty to the indigenous peoples (IPs).
Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., vice chairman of the House panel, vowed to push for the 10-percent royalty for IPs. Baguilat is also heading the technical working group hearing the proposed measure.
"A 10-percent royalty for IPs is being proposed. We are also proposing 10 percent for excise taxes. But there’s always a window for compromises in any legislation. I think the executive will try to negotiate for lower royalty share," Baguilat said in a text message.
Tinio, meanwhile, noted that EO 79 demeans the authority of local government units (LGUs) over mining activities within their respective jurisdictions while it cedes vast discretion to the Mining Industry Coordinating Council.
"In the past, LGUs served as some form of restraint against excesses of these firms. Some heed the alarm raised by communities on the threats caused to environment and the locals by imposing moratoriums on mining activities in their respective areas. EO 79 removes this layer of protection," he said.
Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay, for her part, said that while "there is no problem" with the EO, the government would be facing a bigger issue in its implementation.
Magsaysay said the government must be firm in setting sanctions for those who will be caught violating the rules and regulations provided in the EO.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, chairman of the House committee on public information, urged the creation of a task force in every province to ensure the successful implementation of the EO.
"The challenge to stop illegal mining activities is similar to the campaign to stop illegal gambling. This EO will be meaningless if the fails to implement this sound policy on mining. This EO is a radical move to preserve the environment, especially in areas which are tourist destinations," Evardone said citing Palawan and Boracay. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)