Philippines: Indigenous Peoples Solon Notes Rejection Of Mining At Local Level

“We’re seeing a wave of local ordinances declaring their corresponding jurisdictions as mining-free zones and asserting moratoriums on open pit mining, which can only mean that at the local level, people are rejecting mining.”

Thus remarked Cong. Teddy Brawner Baguilat (Lone District, Ifugao) at the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Forum last Tuesday at Intramuros, Manila.

Baguilat observed that Davao City, Capiz, Zamboanga Sur, Romblon, Nueva Vizcaya, and a number of other local governments, are passing ordinances banning mining in their territories.

“Some Congressmen are even passing resolutions calling a stop to mining in their districts or provinces,” Baguilat added.

Baguilat said that these measures indicated that people are disappointed with the effect of mining in their lives and livelihood.

“I have yet to encounter a mining project that has clearly benefited the host community,” Baguilat said.

“Thus far, what we are hearing about are environmental damage like polluted water systems and cave-ins, and tension or conflict in indigenous communities affected by mining interests,” Baguilat added.

Baguilat’s statements come at the heels of fresh debates on the viability of mining, and at a time when Malacanang is pondering an Executive Order that will reportedly provide the master plan for mining industries in the country.

“What we need is a new framework for mining that departs from the antiquated Mining Act of 1995,” Baguilat proposed.

Such a framework, according to Baguilat, is provided by the proposed Mineral Resources Act or the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.

“This proposed law seeks to regulate the rational exploration, development and use of mineral resources, and ensure equitable sharing of benefits among the government, indigenous peoples and local communities,” Baguilat explained.

“This framework departs from earlier mining laws and policies that focused on extracting minerals without looking after the impact of those activities on communities and the environment,” Baguilat added.

Baguilat thus hoped that there would be sufficient support to pass the proposed Mineral Resources Act.

Source: Office of Rep. Teddy Baguilat

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