Environmental NGO asks Congress to act on mining law reforms
High time for a greener, pro-people mining policy
February 22 2012
Non-government organization Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils) today called on legislators to support a new Philippine mining policy that would regulate the industry in this time of worsening climate change impacts, ecological degradation, and rising vulnerability among the people.
CEC-Phils calls on Congress to support measures that will repeal Republic Act 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. “The current policy under RA 7942 has only enriched a few at the expense of the vast majority and the environment. It has shortsidedly traded short-term profits for long-term development,” said Frances Quimpo, CEC-Phils Executive Director.
The NGO reiterated its support for House Bill (HB) 4315, or the People's Mining Bill, introduced by Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casino. CEC-Phils urged the House Committee on Natural Resources to adopt as a reference bill the consolidated version of HB 4315, HB 206 and HB 3763, in order to begin the process of discussion on the mining policy needed by the Philippines.
CEC-Phils said that the current effects of climate change make the Philippines more vulnerable to greater and more frequent natural disasters related to typhoons, drought, extreme weather events, and chronic deforestation. In this context, the mining industry should be strategically planned, democratically decided upon, stringently regulated and monitored, and developed in order to ensure the least damage to the environment and the most benefit for the Filipino people.
HB 4315 proposes more consultations among stakeholders and affected communities. It requires stricter environmental safeguards in mining and identifies “no mining” zones in environmentally-critical areas, including key biodiversity areas, critical watersheds and habitats, geohazard zones, climate-disaster prone areas, small island ecosystems, agricultural production areas and remaining old growth and natural forests.
The measure also recognizes the internationally-recognized precautionary principle and the “polluter pays principle” where contractors and permit holders pay for environmental damage caused. It requires extensive environmental and social impact assessment and mitigation plans, precautionary measures, fund allotments for environmental and disaster protection and technological support for rehabilitation activities.
CEC-Phils advocates for people-oriented, patriotic, sustainable, and scientific policies and programs for the protection of the Philippine environment. It is among the convenors of Defend Patrimony alliance against mining liberalization in the Philippines.