September 7, 2013
Solon, advocates call SC to declare mining law unconstitutional
Call current mining tax system a scam
Anti mining groups called on the High Court to come out with its decision on a 2008-petition questioning the constitutionality of Sections 80-81 of the Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7941) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2007-12.
Specifically, the sections pertain to supposed income derived from Mineral Processing Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) and Financial and/or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs).
Decision despite government pronouncements on new mining fiscal regime
Years after the petition were filed; it was only this July this year when the Oral Arguments were concluded. Meanwhile, Senate President Drilon and executive officials are announcing the government’s initiative to push for a new mining fiscal regime, increasing income from mining produce.
Akbayan Rep. Ibarra “Barry” Gutierrez said, “It is my fervent hope that the Supreme Court decides quickly and favorably on our petition against Sections 80-81 of the Mining Law, which are deemed inimical to the national interest. Under the prevailing policy regime, there is a huge inequitable distribution of benefits and costs that puts the host communities and the government at a disadvantage. The 1995 Mining Act favors large mining companies, neglects social, health and environmental problems that mining entails, and has failed to uplift the lives of our people.”
Furthermore, since mining activities are in areas where the most vulnerable sectors reside, such Indigenous Peoples, farmers and fisherfolks, the prevailing policy works to the detriment of the rights and interests of those that need the most in terms of government support and protection, Rep. Gutierrez added.
“The communities who petitioned this, together with the petitioners of the La Bugal case filed in 1997, are waiting for the Court’s decision. We believe that despite initiatives to increase income from mining—the Filipino people is being scammed by the current tax system in mining. There is a need to put an end to all these questions,” added ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.
He also said: “We have heard during the Oral Arguments how the La Bugal-B’laan vs. Ramos case decided in 2004 has failed to give a fair sharing of benefits from mining, between the State and the mining companies. In effect, in our mining contracts, we are at the losing end.”
The two were guest speakers at the Kapihan sa Quezon City held at Annabel’s Restaurant Saturdays.
Push for a new minerals management law
Rep. Gutierrez is also one of the authors of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB)—a bill that seeks to repeal RA 7942. SOS Yamang Bayan Network pushes for the AMMB; it aims to put in place framework for the sustainable and responsible use of our mineral resources.
SOS Yamang Bayan Network National Coordinator Erwin Quiñones added: “What we need is not a piecemeal reform by way of amending the fiscal regime of the flawed Mining Act of 1995 but a totally new policy framework that will not only ensure equitable sharing of mineral products but also ensure the protection of community rights and environmental sustainability.”
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB. (30)
For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0927) 761.76.02 firstname.lastname@example.org
Erwin Quiñones, SOS YB National Coordinator (0921) 304.48.84 email@example.com
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy Advocacy Officer (0915) 331.33.61 firstname.lastname@example.org