Press Statement: July 9, 2012
Spokesperson: Mr. Benjie Valbuena, Vice-Chairperson
Cellphone Nos.: 09162294515
Media Liaison – Zenie Lao, Cellphone No. 0919819890
President Benigno Aquino III has signed the executive order (EO) detailing the government’s much-awaited policy on mining, Malacañang announced Saturday. Mr. Aquino had indicated a preference for increasing the government’s share in the revenue from the mining industry.
“But we teachers believe it is another rhetoric and in fact indicative of the Aquino government’s capitulation to corporate interests: it has now softened on its proposal to increase royalty tax collections from mines, proclaiming that it will not impose the 5 percent tax increase for the time being,” Mr. Benjamin Valbuena , Vice-president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said.
To increase administrative fees such as occupational and application fees as proposed is not the key question but who will benefit with our motherland’s natural resources. Even the presence of the proposed Mineral Development Councils where representation of genuine people’s organizations and NGOs is marginalized will not guarantee benefits for the affected communities.
Aside from that, the move to harmonize local and national laws is clearly a move to override local environmental codes that prohibit destructive mining operations in concerned lands, such as the method of open-pit mining that industry lobbyists claim to be sustainable. This definitely will spell more disaster for the people because mine sites to be converted into mineral reservations displaces potential livelihood such as agricultural lands or fisheries. It is so because only mining activities are prioritized.
The provisions of this impending EO are just more of the same old policies formed in the image of the Mining Act of 1995. As long as this national law remains in place, companies will still be allowed to repatriate up to 100 percent of their invested capital prior to taxation, imposed excise taxes are still at a very low 2 percent, and corporations are still granted various anti-environment, anti-people concessions such as timber rights, water rights, easement rights and access to private lands and concession areas.
Teachers also noted spate of killings and other human rights violations (HRVs) on environmental activists involve the mining sector. 44 out of 56 HRVs documented since 2001 involve anti-mining activists, including three of the latest four cases during the “Bloody May” spate of killings just last month. The EO will only lead to the perpetuation of this impunity
Aquino instead should address the social, economic and environmental impacts inherent in the profit-oriented mining industry. We teachers are one with the peasants, small-scale miners, church people, scientists and environmental advocates to continue building the strategic campaign against mining plunder, seek justice for the victims of environment-related HRVs, closure of destructive mines and push for the building of a nationalized and people-oriented mining industry.
‘We all know for a fact that there no so-called “responsible miners” in an industry run by big mining corporations. But with this new EO on mining of Aquino and his minions, a new breed of ruthless coddlers of exploiters” were born,” Mr.Benjie Valbuena of ACT ended. #####