Environment and mining groups have voiced support for president-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s call for mining companies to “shape up.”
For a country with a rich biodiversity and island ecosystems profile like the Philippines, there is no place for illegal miners and destructive mining practices, said Ysan Castillo, secretary general of Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST).
“We are fully behind President Duterte in admonishing firms to practice responsible mining because it is the only way for us to achieve sustainable development,” Castillo added.
In a statement, Michael Toledo, senior vice president for public and regulatory affairs of Philex Mining Corp., one of the country’s oldest and largest mining firms, said they fully support Duterte’s campaign against illegal and irresponsible mining and commit to work with the incoming administration in addressing this problem.
“Surely, we do not want our image and reputation to be tainted by ‘scalawags in the industry’ that operate illegally and irresponsibly,” he added.
Toledo said in its 60 years of operations, Philex has set the benchmark and inspiration for other mining companies to follow as evidenced by its IMS certification, numerous awards on corporate governance and sustainability, as well as active participation in government transparency initiatives.
Dindo Manhit, president of think tank Stratbase ADR Institute (ADRi), stressed though the country is well known for its huge mineral potential, inconsistent policies and problems in implementation of existing mining laws has caused a costly stalemate between opposing mining stakeholders on how to manage our rich natural resources.
“The Duterte government has a great opportunity to correct policy flaws such as Executive Order 79 which stopped a rising momentum of the legitimate mining projects depriving the economy of billions of dollars in lost opportunities in terms of investments, taxes and most important thousands of jobs from direct and indirect employment in far flung areas where development is badly needed,” Manhit said.
In a statement, PBEST cited the “injurious effects” of unsustainable mining practices to the country’s natural resources, not to mention the danger to public health and the billions of pesos lost from mineral smuggling.
“The disheartening fact is that illegal and reckless mining affects the most marginalized Filipinos in the rural areas and at the same time deprives the country of much-needed revenues because small mine operators don’t pay the correct taxes.”
“It is also very encouraging to hear the Chamber of Mines heed the call of president-elect Duterte to actively be part of the solution by practicing self-regulation among their members. Responsible mining, should not be confined to compliance with mining laws and regulations, but should include transparency when it comes to mining revenues that are remitted to the government and spent on community development,” Castillo said.
PBEST is an environmental NGO promoting sound developmental policies and right governance that will ensure responsible stewardship of the environment as a requisite in the operations of all industries.
The Philippine Star| June 13, 2016