Philippines: Indigenous peoples wary over new mining policy
Indigenous peoples’ organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) criticized President Bengino Aquino’s actions in a meeting of foreign chambers of commerce last Thursday.
“Aquino acted like a kid amongst bullies in a schoolyard,” Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said. “But instead of lunch money, he gave away national economy and patrimony without a fight.”
Aquino promised investors of a new mining policy to be drawn up in mid-February after complaints of ‘inconsistencies’ in the country’s mining policies. Aquino said the new mining policy will be ‘clear-cut’ in response to investors’ unfavorable comments on the extractive industry.
“Aquino was quick to assure investors that their interests are secure, notwithstanding the growing opposition against destructive, large-scale mining in the country,” Malayao said. “It shows Aquino has no real interest in the protection of people’s rights and the environment.”
Investors are ‘confused’ over the Philippines’ current mining policy, according to Julian Payne, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Canadian mining company TVI Resources Ltd have mining investments in Zamboanga Peninsula, and recently battled local government unit in Zamboanga del Norte after they enacted an open-mining ban in the province.
“We could imagine an even more liberalized mining policy that will attempt to mute mining-affected people and leave local government disempowered from opposing projects they deem unbeneficial for their constituents. Apparently, resistance from affected communities, environmentalists, and local government units have been cutting mining corporations’ profits,” Malayao said.
KAMP says that the government is already very lenient with mining investors, and even an eager promoter of investments on our mineral lands. “The only thing that is preventing mining corporations of laying waste on our mineral resources is the people. We fear that the mining policy conjured up by the Aquino administration will attack the people’s assertion for their rights to land, and to national patrimony,” Malayao said.
However, KAMP says the new mining policy will not come unchallenged.
“Mining has taken a beating lately, with the protests and other forms of opposition from concerned groups. We are sure that Aquino’s mining policy, as with other anti-people policies that preceded it, will be met by the resistance of the people.” Malayao ended.
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