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Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, author of the People’s Mining Bill (HB 4315) and bill on Mining Zones (HB 4726), today expressed doubt that President Benigno Aquino’s much awaited executive order (EO) on mining would not be able to go beyond the defects of the Mining Act of 1995 in terms of lopsided benefits to foreign owned and backed mining firms, lack of environmental safeguards and the disempowerment of local communities.

The EO is expected to, among others, introduce competitive bidding for mining rights, impose a wider ban on mining in some areas, as well as a new provision on increased economic valuations on projects before they are approved.

“This EO will not change the bias for exports and its resulting unbridled extraction of our mineral wealth for other economies. It seems the thrust of the EO is merely on increasing government revenues and giving local government units a larger piece of the pie. But this fails to address the more fundamental issues afflicting the industry,” he said.

“Without a clear industrial strategy and the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, we will only be further depleting our mineral resources to the benefit of foreign mining corporations. What we need now is a more responsive and people oriented mining law,” Casiño said.

The People’s Mining Bill which Casiño authored seeks to reorient the Philippine mining industry towards the “wise and sustainable development and judicious use” of the country’s mineral resources.

Among its key provisions are:

– The establishment of a centralized and strategic planning of the Philippine mining industry through the crafting and implementation of a National Industrialization Program and a National Mining Plan.
– The reorientation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as a scientific research institution under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with exclusive right to conduct exploration activities and identify strategic mineral resources needed for the country’s development.
– The creation of Multi-Sectoral Mineral Councils for designated mining areas, composed of representatives from the government, stakeholder groups, and affected communities, which will approve and monitor the conduct of mining activities in each respective area.
– Upholding the rights and welfare of Philippine mining industry workers, indigenous peoples, and local communities.
– The provision of appropriate support and protection to Filipino corporations and professional science and technology workers to increase their participation in the industry.
– Stronger and stricter provisions ensuring environmental sustainability, access to justice, and protection of human rights for affected communities.

“Our Peoples Mining Bill does not only recognize the urgent need to protect the environment, but the important need to reorient the utilization of our natural resources towards genuine economic growth, that is, growth for the majority of our people and not only for the few,” Casiño ended. # # #

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