14-MAY-2009 Intellasia | sun star
May 14, 2009
The Alternative Mining Bill (AMB) will be filed Wednesday in the House of Representatives by congressman Lorenzo R. Tañada III and Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel.
Cagayan de Oro second district Representative Rufus Rodriguez and Bukidnon Representative Teofisto Guingona III have also expressed support to the AMB, which is the product of years of consultations by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Centre-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK/FOEP) and its partners in the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), with different sectors of society in response to the damages wrought and posed by the Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942).
Rev. Fr. Jose A. Cabantan, director of the Social Action centre of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, called on the House to support the passage of the AMB, saying "it is now time to scrap the RA 7942."
"The AMB aims to bring back the exploration, development and utilisation of mineral resources within the framework of national development, the right of peoples to self determination, and respect for human rights and the environment," Cabantan said.
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D. also joined Cabantan's call, stressing that after fourteen years of the implementation of the Mining Act of 1995, there is still no solid proof of progress.
"Fourteen years of the implementation of the Mining Act of 1995 had brought about the physical and economic dislocation of many indigenous peoples and other upland rural communities, as well as aggravated the already dire situation of our environment - by handing over our lands and mineral resources for corporate exploitation. All these, in exchange for a grossly disadvantageous amount from mining revenues," Ledesma said.
According to Rebuta, "the time for change has come" and that the 1995 Mining Act must be repealed because of its many flaws. Among the more conspicuous of the inadequacy of the Mining Act of 1995 is the promotion of the exportation of raw minerals without maximising the benefits of such resources for the Filipino people," Rebuta said.
Rebuta added that RA 7942 also fails to take into consideration externalities or negative impacts, thus leaving the masses and the local government units to bear the brunt of such impacts, as well as prioritises the exploration, development and utilisation of resources over and above food security and environmental conservation.
As a parallel activity to the filing of the AMB in Congress, the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is hosting Wednesday the forum "Discussion on Alternative Mining Bill" at the Archbishop Patrick Cronin Hall in the compound of the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral.
Also, representatives of the different SAS in Mindanao are holding a motorcade all over the city to gather support from different sectors for their struggles against mining operations and for the passage of the AMB.
The motorcade will pass through the Xavier University where a short programme will be hosted by the XUCLA. It will then proceed to the Balaod Mindanaw office where another short programme will be done hosted by Balaod and Kaisahan. From there, the motorcade will join the forum at the Cronin Hall.
After the forum, the participants will march to the nearby City Hall to present to Mayor Constantino Jaraula hundreds of signature expressing support to the AMB.
Cabantan said: "The support of this campaign will not only strengthen the crusade in favour of the Alternative Mining Bill but also in support for the people who are adversely affected by mining operations."
According to Rebuta, the "Dapitan Initiative" expressed the policies and principles that should govern the mining industry. The Dapitan Initiative is a manifesto signed by advocates on October 11, 2002 at the Risal Shrine in Dapitan City .
The Dapitan Initiative expressed that the mining industry must
(1) Uphold indigenous people's rights and achieve a more ecologically sound, gender-fair, equitable system of resource management;
(2) Everyone should share in the burden of satisfying resource needs primarily through re-using and recycling existing mineral products;
(3) In land and water use, the concerns of food security, which includes food free from pollution, livelihood production, ecological balance, equity, and social justice should always be the priority;
(4) Only resources that are necessary for domestic use and national industrialisation should be utilised. We should develop our own human resources and encourage the evolution of our own appropriate technologies. Priority should be given to community-based, community-initiated and community-owned stewardship of resources; and
(5) There should be no compromise on human rights, dignity and collective identities.
Also, advocates demanded for the
(1) Immediate cancellation of all existing financial and technical assistance agreements (FTAAs), minerals production sharing agreements (MPSAs), exploration permits, and other mining agreements, licenses and other instruments because they are all based on a highly flawed system;
(2) Scrapping of RA 7942 (Philippine Mining Act), RA 7076 (Small-scale Mining Act); PD 463, and all related laws that are oppressive to the people;
(3) Moratorium on the issuance of large-scale mining permits, licenses, agreements and other instruments for one hundred years;
(4) Rehabilitation, restoration of mining areas and accountability of mining corporations for the destruction that they caused;
(5) Upholding workers' rights; and
(6) Prohibiting state and privately sponsored armed groups from areas where there are current and prospective mining operations.
Since that historic signing of the Dapitan Initiative, Rebuta said that various efforts were made to engage and challenge the government, the international finance corporations, the transnational mining corporations, the mining industry and other key players to expose the wrongs and failures of the law and the policy, their implementation and the practices involved in the mining industry.
And all these efforts now all come to a head with the official filing of the Alternative Mining Bill in Congress Wednesday.