Ms Tina Pimentel, Bantay Kita National Coordinator, joined a technical working group (TWG) last August 26 in Angeles, Pampanga tasked to draft the Freedom of Information Manual (FOI) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) under the FOI Executive Order (EO) of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The said writeshop for the TWG was put in place to assist the DENR in laying the groundwork for the guidelines operationalizing the FOI EO of the president. BK was invited to assist in drafting the guidelines for the Mines and Geosciences Bureau which BK works closely with.
Bantay Kita is a member of the Right2Know Coalition, a staunch advocate of freedom of information.
Large-scale miners paid a mere P5.4 billion to government or 0.003% of total government revenues in 2013. This is contrary to claims that the sector contributes P40 billion to state coffers. The said figures are based from the 2015 Country Report of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
In a recent press release, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) mentioned that the poorest provinces in the Philippines is host to no mining operations. This does not, however, counter the fact that those hosting mining remain to have poverty incidence above the national average of 26.3%.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 2015 First Semester Poverty Statistics, mining provinces that have high poverty incidence are Compostela Valley with 36.8%; Agusan del Norte, 39.6%; Agusan del Sur, 54.8%; Surigao del Norte, 39.6%; Surigao del Sur, 41.6%; Leyte, 46.7%; Eastern Samar, 50%; Camarines Norte, 44%; and Zamboanga del Norte, 56%.
All of these provinces play host to mining firms. Some have hosted mining operations for many decades.
Cordillera Administrative Region, which the CoMP claims to have low poverty incidence while playing host to large-scale miners Philex Mining and Lepanto Consolidated Mining, is in no way dependent on the mining sector. Citing figures from PSA Regional Accounts data, mining and quarrying (MaQ) only contributed 3% of regional GDP compared to agriculture’s 11% in 2013. The mining sector’s contribution on average is low at 5% from 2010-2014. MaQ is second to the lowest contributor to the region’s industry sector.
The industry also boasts of their significant contribution to national and local development. Bataraza in Palawan, Claver in Surigao del Norte, and Siocon in Zamboanga del Norte, according to CoMP, are examples of fourth class municipalities that were transformed into first class municipalities after the entry of mining. Classification of municipalities is a shallow indicator of people’s well-being or progress as it merely measures income of the municipality. Bataraza still posted a poverty incidence of 30.6% in 2012; Claver, 41.4%; and Siocion, 49.2% according to the 2012 PSA Municipal and City Level Poverty Estimates.
Beyond shaping up and complying with environmental laws, the mining industry should give the government a higher share as payment for the finite minerals they extract. In 2013, large-scale mining companies only paid 1.21% of their estimated sales of P73.4 billion as a unique payment for the minerals on top of the regular taxes which all businesses in the country pay. Bantay Kita estimates foregone revenues at P4.5 billion in the form of tax incentives granted to seven firms in 2013.
The sector has generated less than 1% of total employment for the past decade according to data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. This is due in part to the sector’s highly mechanized nature and the absence of a labor-intensive processing industry in the Philippines. Bulk of the country’s minerals are exported as raw, with no value added, to China and Japan.
Notes to the Editor:
Bantay Kita (BK) is a coalition of organizations pushing for transparency and accountability in the extractive industry. It is affiliated with Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Coalition. It takes the lead in engaging mining companies, national government agencies as well as local government units towards achieving greater transparency and accountability in the mining industry through capacity-building, conducting dialogues with communities, and engaging in fiscal policy reforms.
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global standard of transparency in the mining, coal, oil and gas sector. It is being implemented in 49 countries around the including the Philippines. The Philippine EITI is currently implemented under the Department of Finance governed by a multi-stakeholder body representing civil society, government, and the private sector.
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