Bongbong hits lack of mining policy
SENATOR Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. scored the Aquino administration on Friday for failing to develop a cohesive and sustainable policy for the mining industry in its almost six years in office.
“There is no mining policy in this government today. We do not have any kind of plan. There is no vision as to what we want the mining industry to be five years from now, 10 years from now, or 15 to 20 years from now,” said Marcos.
In fact, many of the government’s policies are contrary to the principle and intent of the 1995 Philippine Mining Act, said Marcos, who was one of the reactors at the Mining 2015 forum held at the Solaire Resorts and Casino in Pasay City.
“By having a purely anti-mining policy, we are not taking advantage of that [industry] and therefore we are lessening the benefits that we can give to our people,” said Marcos.
Among others, Marcos cited the “use-it-or-lose-it” policy the Department of Environment and Natural Resources implemented in 2010 in a bid to open non-working mines to new investors. Since then, he noted that the DENR has not issued any new mining agreements.
There were also the proposed expansion of the “no-go” zones for mining and a proposed increase in the government’s share of 10 percent of gross output or 55 percent of adjusted mining revenue.
The Philippines is a top producer of minerals, ranking 3rd in gold, 4th in copper, and 5th in nickel in the world.
“We need to balance the requirements of the economy, assistance to local governments, and of course the most important factor of protecting our environment,” further stated Marcos.
On the other hand, Marcos said the mining industry must also address other valid issues raised against it, apart from environmental concerns.
“One of that is that the industry must be more sensitive to the needs and concerns of the local communities in the area of the mining operations,” he said.
But Malacañang said the Aquino administration is now working on the enactment of a proposed bill on a “new mining revenue schemem.”
“We continue to participate in the hearings about this because I understand we have our own inputs when it comes to those proposals,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, during a press briefing in Malacanang yesterday.
“But whether it will be passed within this Congress or the next is something that we cannot answer. That will be mainly up to our legislators, considering that they have several other priority bills now that the budget season is up. There are ongoing deliberations also on the (Bangsamoro Basic Law), as well as other proposed bills,” Valte also said.
Valte also said that President Benigno Aquino III also mentioned earlier that there are other priority pieces of legislation such as the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization, which is also a proposal made by the administration, as well as a number of other legislative priorities also from the President.
Valte said this proposed bill on the “new mining revenue scheme” has undergone a very long process.
“The process has been long, since the start of the term of President Aquino. I think it’s the (Mining Industry Coordination Council). We can check if it is the current status, as well as if this is the bill that we’ve prioritized,” said Valte, when asked about the status of the proposed measure.
New revenue sharing scheme the mining industry has been anticipating for more than three, with the bill endorsed by Malacañang itself filed in the House of Representatives.