Asia Pacific Civil Society Came Together to Share Knowledge and Develop an Asia Pacific Regional Advocacy Strategy on the Extractive Industry
Bantay Kita (BK), together with Publish What You Pay (PWYP), and Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) organized back-to-back events in Pasig City, Philippines. The events were comprised of the Bantay Kita National Conference, BK-PWYP Capacity Building Sessions, and the PWYP Asia Pacific Regional Forum – all of which aimed to discuss transparency and accountability in the extractive industry.
Bantay Kita’s National Conference provided a venue for the presentation of different issues concerning the Philippine extractive industry and the PH EITI’s milestones and roadmap. PH-EITI Focal Point and Department of Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Habitan said that the Philippines is on track in its bid to submit its first EITI Report by December 2014. The report will include contract disclosure and expenditure reporting of earmarked revenues. Price Waterhouse Cooper has been selected as the Report’s Independent Administrator.
Director Leo L. Jasareno of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau announced in the conference that all documents of the said agency will now be considered public documents. These important documents, which used to be available through formal requests from the MGB will be included in the EITI report and will be made available online. Director Jasareno also made a commitment to continuously engage the civil society in strengthening mining governance at the national and subnational level. These milestones are parts of the CSOs achievements in engaging in EITI.
The BK-PWYP Capacity Building Sessions afforded a platform for sharing of country and regional experiences, and efforts related to extractive industry governance. Topics such as tax justice and illicit financial flows, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), trade agreements, mandatory disclosure, the 2013 EITI Standard, and sovereign wealth funds were discussed. Financial flow monitoring highlighted the need for capacity building in the area. The review of trade agreements underscored the necessity for greater understanding of the effect of policies and agreements on communities. Concerns were raised on the impact of the extractive industry on human rights. There was an agreement among the conference participants to develop an Asia Pacific Regional CSO Plan for Extractive Industries.
The PWYP Asia Pacific Regional Forum sought to strengthen the Asia-Pacific PWYP Coalition to advance PWYP’s strategy Vision 20/20 in order to better influence and monitor extractive industry policy at the regional level. Participants drafted an Asia Pacific Regional Advocacy Strategy with ambitious goals such as: