New mining EO to worsen abuses against environment, communities
10 July 2012
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)
A progressive lawmaker condemned Executive Order 79 saying that it gives more room for mining companies to commit abuses against the environment and communities. EO 79 was issued yesterday by President Benigno Aquino III allegedly to institute reforms in the mining industry.
ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio L. Tinio said that “there is nothing new in PNoy’s ‘new mining policy’. EO 79 maintains the same regime tried and tested by large-scale mining companies under his wing, and even improves it.”
Tinio noted that EO 79 demeans the authority of local governments over mining activities within their respective jurisdictions while it cedes vast discretion to the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).
“In the past, LGUs served as some form of restraint against excesses of these firms. Some heed the alarm raised by communities on the threats caused to environment and the locals by imposing moratoriums on mining activities in their respective areas. EO 79 removes this layer of protection.”
Co-chaired by the Secretaries of Finance and Environment, MICC can convene a Task Force Illegal Mining “to properly regulate small-scale mining participants.” Tinio predicted that MICC will target this portion of the industry that Aquino’s spokespersons have previously tagged as a “problem.”
Tinio also found disturbing MICC’s power to seek the aid of military and police in enforcing its decisions on how it interprets mining laws. He cited the maiming and harassment of the locals of Sitio Balabag, Zamboanga del Sur where TVI Resource Development (TVIRD), a Canadian mining firm, is preparing for its open-pit gold mining operations.
Tinio disclosed that his office received leaked emails sent from May 1 to 20 between security officials of TVIRD. The confidential emails reveal that they have been using Special CAFGU Active Auxiliaries (SCAAs) as snipers and “security guards,” planting improvised ground bombs and “protecting our area” despite any court or police order that may be issued. TVI has also deployed against leaders, small-scale miners, and residents listed as “red” and “blue” targets several Special Surveillance Units equipped with “weapons for killing enemy combatants.”
Tinio said this impunity of mining companies will only be sustained with the implementation of EO 79