August 1, 2014
Bosses were not heard, rights and green groups dismayed for non-inclusion of AMMB in PNoy’s list of priority measures
Human Rights and environmental defenders are saddened that the legislation of the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) that would scrap the Mining Act of 1995 was not included in the priority measures released to media by the Office of the President.
SOS Yamang Bayan, a network of civil society organizations working for the legislation of the AMMB or House Bill No. 984 expressed their dismay over the refusal by President Aquino to heed their call to certify the bill as urgent.
The group launched a campaign last year which called on government to prioritize people above profit. They intensified the said campaign, dubbed as “Dapat Tao Muna Hindi Mina! Dapat AMMB Isabatas Na!” weeks before the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino on July 28 to try to convince him to certify the AMMB as an urgent measure
However, while Bangsa Moro Basic Law and the Freedom of Information among others topped the list of the priority measures that the Office of the President released yesterday to media AMMB was not mentioned. Instead a Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime that proposes to increase revenue collection from the mining industry was included.
“The President ignored the bosses and boses (voices) of the sectors affected by the ill effects of mining, and he instead sided with the illusions created by profit driven, greedy mining corporations,” said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, the organization working as the secretariat of SOS Yamang Bayan Network.
It has been the appeal of the mining affected communities and Philippine civil society for government to scrap the Mining Act of 1995 or RA 7942 which has been criticized as the root cause of human rights abuses and environmental degradation since its legislation.
“Indigenous peoples were deprived of access to their means of subsistence, their right to food affected, and they are evicted from their ancestral land. Free Prior Informed Consent was abused and misused by Mining Companies. These are just some of the human rights issues brought about by a flawed mining policy- exacerbated by the Mining Act of 1995.” Amistad lamented.
Amistad also reminded the President about the killings brought about by disputes in mining affected communities, “IP leaders and their families were killed including children. Military elements were financed by mining companies to harass and sow fear among the people, just like in the case of Tampakan mines. Juvy Capion and her children, and many other IP elders were killed, massacred and threatened because they resist mining in defense of their land.”
“Most companies remain operational and perpetrators were not made accountable to impacts on environment and human rights despite the many cases.” Amistad added.
On the other hand, the business sector led by the Chamber of Mines in its Press Release in major newspaper urged President Aquino to retain the Mining Act of 95 saying that it is an effective piece of legislation if properly implemented.
But Jaybee Garganera, the National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a coalition that is also part of SOS YB Network reiterated that, “Mining as a driver of Philippine Economic growth is misleading. The mining industry contributes very little to our economy. It gives only 1.5 to 2 % to our GDP. It fails to provide a rational and comprehensive benefit-sharing among stakeholders.”
“The Mining Act of 95 is not consistent with sustainable development. It grants too many incentives for investments, including tax-breaks etc. at the expense of our people and our environment,” He added.
“Again, we want the president to know that although rationalizing the revenue from mining is a positive development that might benefit our country, it will not suffice to radically reform the flawed mining policy.” Garganera said
“A complete reform is needed. A complete change. Dahil dapat Tao Muna Hindi Mina. Hindi Tubo at kita ang inuuna. AMMB ipasa na!” the group concluded.###
For more information pls contact:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, (0917) 549.82.18 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer, (0927) 623.50.66 <email@example.com>
Egay Cabalitan, TFDP Advocacy Staff, (0928) 844.37.17, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dapat Tao Muna Hindi Mina! Dapat AMMB Ipasa NA!