20,000 signatures to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 sought

Scrap the Mining Act Network led by Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) is gathering 20,000 signatures to sign the petition for the repeal of Republic Act 8371 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

In a forum held Friday in St. Scholastica’s College in Manila, the Scrap the Mining Act Network said that they aim to have 20,000 signatures marking the 20th anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995 in March 3.

The network’s petition urges the Philippine Congress to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and enact a pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment, and responsible mining bill.

According to Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson, the petition highlights the effects of the liberalized mining industry to indigenous peoples.

“The Mining Act of 1995 allowed the complete ownership of mining TNCs of our mineral lands, waters, and resources, among other incentives to attract mining investment. The law is blamed for the continuing desolation of our environment and the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights to land and life,” Malayao said.

Broad network

Scrap the Mining Act Network is a broad campaign network of individuals, institutions and groups from the Church, academe, legislators, lawyers, cause-oriented groups , indigenous peoples rights advocates, environmentalists, journalists, cultural workers and concerned groups who are united and committed to the call to Scrap the Mining Act of 1995.

The petition to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 was launched last June in time with the World Environment Day, at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran. The first set of petitioners, which included National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Caloocan City Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra, actress and women’s rights advocate Monique Wilson, Missionary Benedictine Sisters Prioress Mo. Adelaida Yrugbay, Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Jose Manguiran, Our Mother of Perpetual Help National Shrine (Baclaran church) Rector Fr. Victorino Cueto, and University of the Philippines Student Regent Neill Macuja, was submitted to the House of Representatives last August 12.

A total of 139 petitioners, representing representing 84 organizations, schools, universities, councils, congregation, churches, dioceses signed the petition, Malayao shared.

Sign-up drives are ongoing in University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Manila, College of the Holy Spirit Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, St Louis University in Baguio City, St. Mary’s University of Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya and the latest in St. Scholastica’s College Manila.
‘Lopsided to mining TNCs’

In the petition, the Scrap the Mining Act Network describe the Mining Act of 1995 as foreign dominated, and not geared towards developing national industries and modernization of agriculture.”

“Incentives and benefits in our mining industry is lopsided in favor of transnational mining corporations, far greater than those of Filipino entrepreneurs,” Malayao added.

Some of the more controversial and criticized provisions in the Mining Act are the following:
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

According to think-tank IBON Foundation, the Philippine mining industry’s contribution is a measly 0.72% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of the PhP 1.15 trillon gross production value in mining from 1997 to 2012, the Philippine government only gained PhP 110 billion or less than 10% of the gross value from taxes, fees and royalties. In addition, the mining industry only employs an average of 200,000 workers annually or 0.43% of the total employment in our country, contrary to the government claims that this industry will generate jobs.

“The facts belie the government’s claim that mining is the boost our economy needs. What we truly gain from mining is the plunder of our mineral resources, environmental destruction, and the violation of our people’s rights,” Malayao commented.

According to Malayao, there exist at least 712 approved mining applications covering 967,530.86 hectares of the country’s total land area. Of this, 251 applications covering 532,368.36 hectares (55% of the total land area approved for mining) are areas occupied by indigenous communities.

“The call to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 comes from a spectra of people since its enactment almost twenty years ago. It is high time that this sentiment be harnessed for the creation of a patriotic, pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment a responsible mining law.

Scrap the Mining Act Network is still gathering signatures for the repeal of the Mining Act in schools, Churches, and other public places. #