Statement on the 19th Anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995

Press Statement

3 March 2014

This day nearly rounds out the two-decade anniversary of the Philippine
Mining Act of 1995. The enactment of this law is a mile post in our
country’s adherence to neoliberal policies, which espoused the
deregulation, privatization, and liberalization of key industries. For
the past nineteen years, the Mining Act of 1995 had opened the
floodgates to local and transnational mining corporations to amass the
largest profits over our country’s vast mineral resources. Since its
promulgation, the Mining Act has resulted into the unprecedented plunder
of our national patrimony, irreversible environmental degradation,
land-grabbing, and human rights violations.

On this day that the Mining Act was spawned, we also recall the many
activists and indigenous peoples who were martyred in the defense of our
national patrimony against mining plunder and for the integrity of the
environment, amid the blows of legalized plunder of our mineral lands
and the pillage of communities. We remember Juvy Capion and her sons,
who, due to the relentless fight against the mining operation of
Xstrata-SMI in their ancestral lands in Tampakan, South Cotabato, were
massacred mercilessly by the 26th Infantry Battalion of the AFP on
October 2012. We remember the killings of many Lumad leaders in Mindanao
who had led their people to resist mining in their ancestral lands, such
as Datu Jimmy Liguyon, who was killed in front of his children by
members of a paramilitary group held in sway by a mining company.

The past nineteen years have uncovered the rottenness of a liberalized
mining industry, and today the Mining Act has garnered the broad
opposition from many sections of society. Peasants, indigenous peoples
and other communities directly affected by mining are joined by
legislators, churches, media practitioners, academics, students, and
environment groups in the call for the scrapping of the Mining Act of
1995. Armed revolutionary groups in the countryside also condemned the
destruction and human rights violations caused by the liberalized mining
industry, and have performed punitive actions against mining enterprises
nationwide. The clamor grows in many provinces and regions to stop
large-scale and destructive mining, with some local government units
even declaring mining bans on large-scale or open pit mines in their areas.

For its part, the Aquino government has promoted mining in its effort to
draw in more foreign investments in the country. It has employed
deceitful means to make people believe that it is treading the ‘tuwid na
daan’ on the pretext of correcting the ills of the extractive industry.
His populist maneuverings to appease anti-mining advocates and mining
firms brought about the enactment of Executive Order 79. This mining
directive is a far cry from the people’s demands of a mining industry
that will lead to national development and industrialization, but an
accession to the demands of big foreign mining firms. One of the main
attributes of the EO 79 is to undercut the local government’s powers to
hinder large-scale mining in their localities.

Meanwhile, mining has made no significant contributions to develop the
economy. The general practice of foreign mining corporations to export
our mineral ores garnered a mere 0.7% contribution to the GDP and 0.6%
to employment according to the Mines and Geoscience Bureau. The
trickling benefit of mining to the local economy is dwarfed by its
adverse effects to the people and environment. Human rights violations
and environmental degradation adds to the rape of our national patrimony.

The Philex Mine Disaster rocked the Philippine mining industry in August
2012, when the government’s poster child for ‘responsible’ and ‘green’
mining dumped 20 million metric tons of mine wastes in tributaries in
Benguet. The effects of the massive spill affected fishing and farm
communities in Benguet, and then drained to the San Roque Dam and up to
communities in Pangasinan. The tussle between Philex and indigenous
people’s organizations, environment activists, and affected downstream
communities was waged in the media, in Congress, and other public
occasions, and within affected communities with Philex denying liability
over what environment activists describe as the ‘biggest mining disaster
in Philippine history.’

Other mine-affected indigenous communities also suffer from the
environmental destruction caused by liberalized mining such as the
OceanaGold operations in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya and Citinickel Mining
Corporation’s nickel mines in Sofronio Espanola, Palawan. These mining
corporations are wreaking havoc on the livelihood and health of
residents as mining erodes environmental integrity in these areas. Vast
agricultural and forest lands are rapidly being converted to serve the
foreign dominated and controlled mining industry at the expense of the
human settlement and sustainable livelihood of the peasants and
indigenous communities, and our food security. Thousands of communities
have been displaced and denied of their rights over the lands which they
have developed for hundreds of years, as in the experiences of the
Blaan, Subanen, Manobo and other lumad communities due to the operations
of SMI-Xstrata, Toronto Ventures Inc. and Russell Mining and Minerals
Inc. Five of the six financial and technical assistance agreements
(FTAA), which covers almost 100,000 hectares, are encroaching ancestral

Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination is undermined and our
national patrimony is being handed over to transnational corporations.
The lone participation of indigenous peoples in projects affecting them
is the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) provision of the
Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). The FPIC is usually acquired
through manipulation, deceit, and coercion, and had given the entry of
big businesses an air of legitimacy and adds to the illusion of
democracy and ‘inclusive growth’ of the Aquino reign. Throughout the
years, the IPRA and the process of FPIC have been utilized to serve the
interest of the big businesses and have even been instrumental in the
violation of indigenous peoples’ rights to land and self-determination.

Mining corporations, given the power to control not only the minerals
but the water, timber, and land by the Mining Act, possess little regard
to ensure the people’s welfare. To end the chaotic environmental
degradation, mining should be geared towards meeting people’s domestic
needs rather than private profit margins and global market demands. The
scrapping of the Mining Act and the reorientation of the mining industry
from being profit-driven, import-oriented and export-oriented to one
that will ensure that the extractive industry will not trample on
people’s rights and utilize our mineral resources for national
development is a must.

Mining can only contribute to national development if it is part of a
program for national industrialization. The Philippine government must
invest in the necessary industries to process our mineral wealth and
make these serve further industrialization of our country especially in
manufacturing and agricultural modernization. The current mining law is
merely a reflection of a bankrupt economic policy that places our hopes
on the benevolence of foreign investors. It is time that we assert our
national interest and sovereignty. It is time we put domestic needs and
environmental protection at the forefront of corporate profits. It is
time we junk the Mining Act of 1995 and pursue a nationalist,
pro-indigenous peoples, pro-environment and responsible mining and
economic policy.

* Scrap the Mining Act of 1995! End the liberalization of mining!
* Advance the Peoples Mining Bill!
* Stop destructive and large-scale mining in indigenous peoples’
ancestral territories!
* Uphold indigenous peoples’ rights to land and self-determination!
Defend our national patrimony!

Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, near Quezon Avenue corner EDSA, West Triangle,
Quezon City
(02) 412-5340