A Sweeping Look at Mining in the Philippines

Capitalist's tool: It starts with a machine that can spoil the environment.

This is a rejoinder on our post about the sand and gravel quarry/mining operation here in Calabanga. (This link leads to that post: Sand and gravel mining.)

As we waited for the rain to ease a bit, a fully covered hauling truck emerged from the mining compound. It was loaded with either sand or gravel. The driver stopped a few meters from our spot and picked up two passengers.

The quarry operation keep workers busy with some construction projects within the town. While the owner-operators may be earning from the bounty of nature, the workers apparently are not. They will continue to be beholden to the capitalist and live on a wage, and on a day to day basis.

When mining companies locate their lucrative operation in mostly rural territories (the usual setting) of either municipal or provincial LGUs’ jurisdiction, these government units and the residents directly affected also earn a windfall of benefits, economic and more. Or, maybe not!

In the year ending 2010, the mining industry in the region produced Php11.4 billion worth of minerals- gold, silver, copper and cement. The national government earned Php782.6 million of taxes in return. The region’s possible share is a measly three per cent from the tax revenue. That is at least Php41.71 million, which may come out only as a social fund from the national government. A drop in the bucket, it may seem.

Rapu-rapu island: A portrait of once beautiful island, being explored and ravaged by a famish mining industry.

The Bicol province of Albay hosts the highly controversial large-scale mining operation located in the island-town of Rapu-rapu. It is operated by the Rapu-rapu Polymetallic project, a Korean-Malaysian-Filipino consortium, which used to be the Australian Lafayette mining. (Please read related informative posts with videos here- A sperm whale dies in Rapu-rapu, and here- San Miguel iron ore deposit up for grabs.)

On Friday, March 27 of this year, governor Joey Salceda of Albay finally signed the sanggunian panlalawigan resolution strongly opposing any future mining activity in the province.

More interesting notes about mining here in the country as culled from the advocacy group Kalikasan:

Environmentalists felt betrayed by the recent approval and endorsement of 247 mining applications and permits by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. President Noynoy Aquino and DENR Secretary Ramon Paje have yet again turned deaf ears to the protests against destructive large scale mining in the Philippines. This move by the DENR has in fact intensified the approval of mining applications in spite of earlier reports of cancelling some 500 inactive and incomplete applications.

On January 12 and 13, 2011, the provincial government of Romblon and Negros Occidental declared mining moratorium in their provinces. Last week, the provincial government of South Cotabato, defied the strong pressure and opposition from the Aquino administration by implementing its local ordinance prohibiting open pit mining in its forests and mountains while the provincial government of Albay also declared its own local ordinance banning all forms of new mining in the province.

As of March 2011, there are already 10 provincial governments that implemented mining moratorium. In addition are Capiz, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Marinduque, Samar, Western Samar, Northern Samar. In Batangas province, a similar resolution will soon be filed in the Provincial Board. The Municipality of Calabanga on the other hand passed a resolution on June 21, 2010 opposing the magnetite mining application of BOGO Mining Corporation.

“The recent provincial moratoriums and municipal resolutions reflect the growing and strengthening struggle of communities against destructive large-scale mining. These mining moratoriums definitely contradict the mining policy and program of the Aquino administration. The continuing promotion of large-scale mining and coddling of foreign investors by the Aquino administration is rifting its support and alliance from local officials and government,” explains Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

President Benigno Aquino III thumbed down the proposal from the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) to ban large-scale mining as part of the efforts to curb the effects of climate change and global warming in the country.

The prevailing Philippine mining laws grant the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the sole authority to approve large-scale mining anywhere in the country. Neither the provincial or local governments enjoy the same authority. At last, the powers that be in the government showed the true color of their skins. Could it be the same color of their conscience, too?(https://cbanga360.net)


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