Mining is crucial to nation building. And the Philippines, rich in mineral deposits of metallic and non-metallic resources and even globally ranked high in terms of mineral reserves, has the potential to achieve this goal. However, the mining industry in the Philippines remains to be highly extractive, export-oriented and foreign- dominated, and not geared towards developing national industrialization and modernization of agriculture. Mining benefits a few big foreign mining corporations and its local partners at the expense of the vast majority of the Filipino people and the environment.
The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act 7942 strengthened this mining scheme. It completely liberalized the mining industry in the country to entice foreign investors. This law gave impetus to the unhampered plunder of our remaining natural resources. It gives more benefits and incentives to transnational corporations far greater than those provided to Filipino entrepreneurs through its provisions that allow: (1) Up to 100% foreign owned capital and repatriation profit; (2) Freedom from requisition of investment and freedom from expropriation; (3) Tax exemption for a grace period of 10 years; (4) Easement rights, water rights and timber rights; (5) Tariff and tax exemption for the materials and supplies imported for their mining operation or exploration and free use of port for 10 years.
In the 19 years since the Mining Act was signed into law, the Filipino people experienced plunder of resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of the environment and ecosystem, human rights violations and loss of traditional livelihoods. Indigenous peoples rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination are grossly violated. Under the present law, the mining industry has not significantly contributed to economic growth and development.
The indigenous peoples together with the farmers, fisher folks, workers, women, church people, academe, youth and students, consistently called for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Information dissemination campaign and protest actions such as petition and signature campaign, caravans, picket rallies, putting up road barricades, placing placards along mountain trails, and directly confronting mining corporations through dialogues and lobbying for a new pro-people mining law continue. Local Government Units passed resolutions restricting mining in their localities. Indigenous peoples based on their traditional systems entered into pagta or peace pacts and others waged pangayaw or tribal war to defend their ancestral lands against the mining corporations in Northern Luzon and in Mindanao.
People’s resistance to large-scale and destructive mining resulting from a liberalized mining scheme under the Mining Act of 1995 are met with repression. Violation of human rights such as extra-judicial killings, different forms of threats, harassments, and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders and community members are rampant in areas with mining interests.
In this context, we, the indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, IP and human rights advocates, environmentalists, students, youth, women, artists, media, church people, academe, professionals, businessmen, government leaders and patriotic Filipinos call for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. We also call for the enactment of a mining bill that embodies the Filipino people’s desire for a mining industry that upholds national sovereignty and patrimony, social justice, environment protection and people’s rights and welfare. We reject the liberalized, foreign controlled and export-oriented mining industry.
It is high time for a rational and judicious use of our mineral wealth for domestic economy and genuine national development. We recognize that the cause and answer lies, to a large extent, in legislation. WE PETITION THE PHILIPPINE CONGRESS TO REPEAL THE REPUBLIC ACT 7942 OR PHILIPPINE MINING ACT OF 1995 AND ENACT A PATRIOTIC, PRO-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, PRO-ENVIRONMENT AND RESPONSIBLE MINING BILL.
This petition was presented to- and signed by the participants of the 8th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK-Europe (ICBE) Consultation during their closing session in Vienna, Austria on August 16, 2015.