Anti-mining groups urge govt to reimpose ban on new mining deals

Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2021 08:36 PM


MANILA – An alliance of anti-mining groups in the Philippines is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to reverse his decision to again allow new mining agreements, and called for the reinstitution of policies laid down by the late Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

Last April, Duterte signed Executive Order 130, which lifted a nearly 9-year moratorium on new mining agreements. Duterte, who used to be a staunch mining critic, said he reversed his stand as the government needed funds. 

Jaybee Garganera, the national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance to End Mining) meanwhile said the lifting of the moratorium will lead to further environmental degradation. 

Garganera said they are instead pushing for the return of the mining policies instituted by Lopez who closed several mining operations that had a negative impact on communities.

In place of the current mining laws, Garganera’s group is pushing for the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) which aims to ban mining operations in critical areas. These include important watersheds and habitats, key biodiversity areas, small island ecosystems, areas at risk to disaster and climate change impacts, traditional swidden farms, and hunting grounds.

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) direct services coordinator Atty. Ryan Roset said mining operations, as they are, are not uplifting the communities where they are located.

"'Yung community itself ang sumasalo ng mga cost; environmental cost, health cost, 'yung social cost ng mining operation. So 'yun 'yung kamalian sa pagtingin sa mining operations at sabihin nating contribution niya sa economy," Roset noted.

The Chamber of Mines meanwhile said it believes ”there are adequate social and environmental laws, rules, and regulations in place that would mitigate the impact of mining on communities and the environment.” 

The industry group also said its members have adopted a global social and environmental performance standard that compels them “to operate beyond mere compliance.” 

Mining companies have also spent over P380 million on PPEs, disinfectants, and medical supplies, as well as food assistance and supplies for social amelioration measures in their host ming communities. 

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