Group pushes for 5% mineral royalties in PH

A COALITION of civil society organizations in the Philippines, Bantay Kita, is pushing for 5 percent mineral royalties on all mine sites of the country.

Bantay Kita, a civil society group in a statement said that should there be such royalty the government of the Philippines could have collected 2.8 Billion revenues from mining in 2013.

Bantay Kita Communications and Research Analyst Marco Zaplan in a media forum held at Lispher Inn, Juna Subdivision, Matina, Davao City last Friday, said that currently, only those in mineral reservation areas such as in Caraga Region, and Zambales are paying royalty tax.

He bared that based on recently published Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the government has only collected a mere P2.2 Billion for minerals from 5 percent mineral royalties and 2 percent excise tax on minerals imposed by government. This in on top of the other payment such as corporate income tax.

Total reconciled payments from mining in the EITI sum up to P5.6 billion pesos accounting for a mere 0.003% of total government revenues in 2014.

Zaplan said that over-all income of the National Government from mining should be increased as it is crucial to the local governments where mining operations are held as the LGUs only receive minimal share of revenue.

"In 2013, in the direct collection, the local government units received only 6 percent and the rest is given to the national government," Zaplan said.

He added that this is not enough for the local government units whose environmental resources are most of the time sacrificed in the process of mineral extraction.

"We have travelled to different areas such as Butuan, Palawan, Cebu and Manila, lahat n gmayors resentful sa mining operations," Zaplan added.

He also added that as of 339 mineral sharing agreements in 7 provinces opposition in mining is felt due to the fact that the LGUs cannot feel economic benefits of mining in their area.

He also added that in National Capital Region where most of the central office of the mining companies is located receive much more share of mining revenue from the National Government.

Zaplan also bared that a problem of disclosure of companies to actual volume of minerals they export.

"Mas malaki ang declared sa China, dito mas maliit, malaki ang discrepancy," Zaplan said.

He said they have obtained the data through the International Monetary Fund.

Based on the statement, Bantay Kita is also pushing for fiscal reforms allowing Filipinos at the very least benefit from these minerals.

"Based on the 2nd EITI report, monitoring reports on social and environmental protection lacks substance, It has no baseline information and hindimo ma-asses kung effective bayung project," Zaplan said.

According to Zaplan, disclosures by companies are mostly summaries of the activities and not the actual documents they submit government.

The Environmental Management Bureau also failed to disclose environmental impact assessment documents of 12 mining companies saying that they have lost tract of the approved documents.

Zaplan also bared that a mining company in Compostela Valley in its reports on social and environmental protection mentioned "rattlestakes" which does not live in the Philippines.

"Closer to reality, parang copy paste lang nila sa iba, ang problema doon paano ang actual na mitigation programs, and nakapasa pa nga ito sa regional office," Zaplan said. (KVC)
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