Bantay Kita is greatly dismayed and disheartened by the issuance of Executive Order 130, lifting the mining moratorium (Section 4 of Executive Order 79 s. 2012). This new executive order has taken many stakeholders by surprise and to our knowledge was issued without any prior consultation with relevant stakeholders.
EO 130 cites the increase of the excise tax from 2% to 4% (as contained in RA 10963 aka “TRAIN law”) as the justification for the lifting of the moratorium. This minor increase in excise tax is not the type of “[rationalization of] existing revenue sharing schemes” that was contemplated by EO 79. Bantay Kita believes that to be true to the spirit of EO 79, and before the lifting of the moratorium can even be considered, reforms in the fiscal regime of mining such as an increase in mineral royalty payments, the imposition of windfall gain tax, and the scrapping of unnecessary incentives should be enacted for a more fair economic contribution from the extractive industry.
Furthermore, reforms in the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 are urgently needed to ensure proper management and governance of our mineral resources, address social and environmental mining issues, and fully respect the rights of local communities, indigenous peoples, and local government units to approve or disapprove mineral extraction.
We call on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, along with relevant government agencies such as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, to conduct a comprehensive review of existing mining contracts and agreements. Such review should include genuine stakeholder consultations with local government units and mining-affected communities.
We urge the Department of Finance and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to actively support legislation rationalizing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms that are fair and equitable, considering the one-time nature of mineral resource extraction.
Lastly, we urge the President to reconsider EO 130 and declare as urgent reforms in the mining fiscal regime to ensure a more equitable, transparent, and fair revenue sharing scheme and mechanism.
Bantay Kita, its partners, and communities will continue to be vigilant. We will continue to monitor mining operators and hold them to the principles of transparency and accountability.
On April 1, the second Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Validation commenced for the Philippines. The Validation is the assessment of EITI-implementing countries on their ability to meet the EITI Standard.
Countries will be scored based on three components of the Validation: 1) stakeholder engagement - participation of all stakeholders from government, industry, and civil society, 2) transparency - disclosure requirements such as beneficial ownership registry, and 3) outcomes and impact - addressing national priorities on natural resource governance.
The first Validation found the Philippines to have made Satisfactory Progress in 2017, the first EITI implementing country to achieve that status.
As civil society representatives to the PH-EITI Multi-stakeholder Group, Bantay Kita sees the Validation as an opportunity to further discuss challenges in implementing EITI and how it can be more relevant both at the national and subnational level.
“Over the past months, the PH-EITI MSG has been working to gather all evidence to show progress of the Philippines. All stakeholders, not only civil society, have contributed to communicating EITI data and initiated outreach activities from local communities to policymakers,” said Vincent Lazatin, National Coordinator of Bantay Kita.
Aniceta Baltar, a civil society representative to the PH-EITI MSG said that “Stakeholders involved in the Validation process would be honest and able to articulate what really is happening on the ground with the transparency initiative of extractive industries in our country. Beyond aiming to be on top, the one of greater value is knowing the real score, the PH-EITI's actual situation, and how we can perform better.”
“The Validation looks at how it continues to execute its mandate, and at what level it does. It also gauges what positive impacts the Initiative were able to bring across to its constituents and stakeholders,” she added.
The final result of the Validation is expected to be announced by the EITI Board around the fourth quarter of 2021.
The mining sector in the Philippines has had a lethal impact on people and the environment. Will an international transparency process help end it?
The world is getting deadlier for environmental defenders.
On average, more than four people were killed every week protecting their land and the natural world in 2019, according to Global Witness. The most dangerous sector was mining, which accounted for 43 deaths, and the greatest number of killings occurred in the Philippines. This month, however, there’s a vital chance to tackle this and other issues plaguing mining in the Philippines when the sector opens itself up to an international transparency process.
Mining contributes relatively little to the Philippines’ GDP and generates few jobs, but it has long been a source of conflict. For those on its frontline, particularly local and indigenous communities opposing mining on or near their land, the consequences can be fatal. In 2091, 16 people were killed in mining-related deaths in the country.
One reason why mining fuels such controversy and violence is that...
Read more here. This article is original published at The Diplomat.