"The mining executive order released by the Palace will not cure the chronic ills of Republic Act 7942 or the controversial Mining Act of 1995", said Frances Quimpo, Secretary General of the Kalikasan Partylist.
"At best, the mining EO is a band-aid attempt to solve to the already festering, rotting and gaping wounds caused by the liberalization of the Philippine mining industry. At worst, it engages in greenwashing to justify more profit-taking by foreign and large-scale miners," Quimpo added.
Members of Kalikasan Partylist this morning joined other groups in a protest action in Mendiola held to denounce the Palace's announcement of the mining EO.
"We are not the very least impressed with the environmental provisions outlined in the order. It attempts to put in place environmental standards, but it leaves the task to the DENR, whose track record in handling the mining disasters of the past—such as the Marinduque and Rapu-Rapu mine spills—has not proven its capacity and credibility to safeguard people's interests to strictly monitor mining operations. The DENR even lacks resources to strictly monitor mining operations, to the point of depending on mining proponents to do its job", said Quimpo.
"In exchange for a few concessions and government shares, the EO will allow corporations more unhampered access to the country's vast mineral wealth," Quimpo said.
"It will allow the wholesale export of finite supplies of minerals that could have otherwise been used for building national industries. It will subvert local decisions of communities and LGUs to not allow mining in their municipalities." Quimpo added.
"While paying lip-service to 'value-adding activities' and 'develop downstream industries', the EO base its development plan on the PDP which is premised on developing the mining industry through more incentives for big and transnational businesses, big infrastructure projects such as large-scale mining, and public-private partnerships across various economic sectors," Quimpo pointed out.
"The EO does not change the current export-oriented and import-dependent of the mining industry which has resulted in the massive environmental destruction, human rights violations, and community displacement,", Quimpo stressed.
"It seems that large mining firms are now scrambling to exploit more areas in the wake of the EO. In fact, foreign-owned Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is already asking Malacanang to overturn the DENR's rejection of its permit, which would exploit the largest copper-gold reserve in Southeast Asia spanning 10,000 hectares in the four agricultural and fisheries provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani," Quimpo added.
Environmental groups such as Kalikasan Partylist have pushed for bills in Congress, such as HB 4315 (People's Mining Bill) which expand the list of areas where mining should not be allowed, including environmentally-critical areas, areas vulnerable to acid mine drainage, geohazard and climate disaster-prone areas. These were not included in the current EO.
Kalikasan Partylist vowed to pursue other avenues such as challenging the EO and the Mining Act of 1995 at the Supreme Court and expressed its support for the move of Catholic bishops calling for a moratorium on the implementation of the new mining executive order (EO) released by Malacanang.