SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has sought for a “cohesive, long-term” mining policy in order to maximize the benefits of the vibrant industry.
Marcos said Friday he was dismayed that the Aquino administration failed to put a vision for the mining industry and worse, its "anti-mining stance" has slowed down the development of the industry, which accounted for roughly one percent of the country's gross domestic product in the past decade.
“There is no mining policy in this government today. We do not have any kind of plan. There is no vision as to what we want the mining industry to be five years from now, 10 years from now, or 15 to 20 years from now,” Marcos said.
“By having a purely anti-mining policy, we are not taking advantage of that and therefore we are lessening the benefits that we can give to our people,” he added.
The Philippines is a top producer of minerals, ranking third in gold, fourth in copper, and fifth in nickel in the world.
However, the senator said many of the government’s policies are contrary to the principle and intent of the 1995 Philippine Mining Act.
The law mandates the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in coordination with concerned local government units (LGUs), to ensure that environmental standards in mining are fully and strictly enforced.
But Marcos noted that since the DENR implemented its “use-it-or-lose-it” policy in 2010, it has not issued any new mining agreement.
The policy involves cancellation of not only mining applications that are unable to comply with all the requirements set by the government but also mining tenements that have remained inactive and unproductive for a long time.
The senator also hit the proposed expansion of the “no-go” zones for mining and proposed increase in the government’s share of 10 percent of gross output or 55 percent of adjusted mining revenue.
If the government only wants to get more taxes out of the mining industry, Marcos said it would deter investment in that sector.
“We need to balance the requirements of the economy, assistance to local governments, and of course the most important factor of protecting our environment,” he said.
“One of that is that the industry must be more sensitive to the needs and concerns of the local communities in the area of the mining operations.”
The senator said the mining industry must ensure that affected local communities would derive tangible benefits from it and assure them that necessary safeguards are in place to ensure protection of their environment and ecology.
Marcos has filed Senate Bill 113, which mandates the appropriation and release to the concerned local government units (LGUs) of their 40-percent share from national wealth taxes.
Malacañang meanwhile expressed its support for the proposed law containing a new mining revenue-sharing scheme, which is pending in Congress.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Executive department continues to participate in the hearings regarding the measure.
Its passage, however, lies in the hands of the lawmakers, she said.
"We continue to participate doon sa mga hearings about this because I understand, meron din tayong sarili nating input pagdating diyan sa panukalang batas na ito. But whether it will be passed within this Congress or the next is something that we cannot answer. That will be mainly up to our legislators," Valte said in a regular press briefing.
The Palace official noted that several priority bills are pending in Congress, among them the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization bill, and the proposed 2016 national budget.
House Bill 5367, authored by ways and means committee chairman, Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, specifies a new revenue-sharing arrangement between the government and large-scale mining companies that will allow the government to get a fair share of the revenues and economic benefits derived from the country’s mineral resources. (SDR/Sunnex)