March 3, 2012
REFERENCE: Renato M. Reyes, Jr, BAYAN secretary general
Today is the 17th anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. This law represents the worst in our country’s adherence to neo-liberal economic policies. This law has opened the floodgates to widespread plunder of our natural wealth, unprecedented environmental degradation and worsening human rights violations. We remember all our martyred activists who fought for the environment and the defense of our national patrimony.
The Mining Act today faces unprecedented opposition from a broad cross-section of society, including inside and outside parliament, indigenous communities, schools, church groups, environmental groups as well as a raging armed resistance in the countryside. There is a growing clamor to stop destructive large-scale foreign mining in so many provinces and regions nationwide.
The Aquino government has promoted mining in its effort to draw more foreign investments to the country. It engages in deception when it says it will come out with a new mining policy that will be acceptable to all stakeholders, both the mining firms and the anti-mining groups. From all indications, the Aquino government has acceded to the demands of the big foreign mining firms and is now merely concerned on how to make this acceptable to the opposition groups.
The benefits of mining are belied by the insignificant contributions it has on the national economy: 1.36% gross value added to GDP from 2005-2008, and a mere 0.44% average share to total employment from 1990-2004.
Truth is, so long as the mining is geared towards exports and so long as the overall economy is dependent on foreign investments and imports, the mining industry will only serve the interests of private profits and will NEVER lead to national development and industrialization.
As it stands, mining remains an extractive industry that does little to develop the economy. The foreign mining firms and their local counterparts are merely interested in the export of our resources, which has grown at a rate of 27.96% from 2005-2010.
New economic orientation
Mining can only contribute to national development if it is part of a program for national industrialization. This would require a reorientation of the export-oriented, import-oriented, foreign investment-led, debt-and-remittance-driven economy. To stop chaotic environmental degradation, mining should be geared towards meeting people’s domestic needs rather than private profit margins and global market demands. The Philippine government must invest in the necessary industries to process our mineral wealth and make these serve further industrialization including manufacturing and agricultural modernization.
The current mining policy 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 profits. It is time we junk the Mining Act o 1995 and pursue a nationalist and pro-people mining and economic policy. ###