By Joey Natividad
NAGA CITY (BicolToday.com/15-July-2012) – The much anticipated Executive Order (EO) on new mining policy dished out by Malacañang on Tuesday, caused dismay among progressive, think-tank groups on Wednesday (July 10) which are concerned on mapping out the Philippines’ roadmap for national industrialization.
IBON Foundation, Inc., an independent research institution, lamented the new mining policy merely “affirms government’s main intent of getting a bigger cut from foreign exploitation of Filipino mineral resources”.
“The EO on mining outlines a new set of mining policies, seeking to undermine the authority of local governments and of communities to regulate mining operations in their jurisdictions, in the shallow monetary interest of national government for a greater share in mining revenues,” said IBON in an emailed statement..
According to IBON, a responsible mining policy is not just about the national government getting a cut from mineral resource plunder, and short-term community dole-outs by mining firms. Rather, it should address the long-term environmental consequences, as well as the irreversible loss of Filipino minerals needed for Philippine development.
A week before Malacañang’s issuance of new mining policy, a forum in De La Salle University that featured on mining and industrialization had its organizers agreed that Malacanang may have removed provisions in the new Executive Order (EO) that could contribute to making the mining industry be beneficial to the people and environment.
That week, groups like IBON and the National Economic Protectionist Association (NEPA) cast doubt on the new set of policies will truly improve the industry and benefit the economy.
The groups also discussed the potential benefits of the mining industry on the economy, which they said will not be addressed by merely revising mining policies.
“The Philippines can and should harness its own mining industry,” said IBON executive director Sonny Africa during the forum held at the De La Salle University last week.
National Institute for Geological Studies (NIGS) consultant Dr Rolly Pena, also a speaker in the forum, discussed the country’s rich potential in terms of the various minerals needed to build the important Philippine industries such as steel. These minerals include magnetite, laterite and nickelferous, which can be used to process alloys for steel chromium and nickel.
However, the IBON head stressed that developing any Philippine industry must be done in the framework of national development. This would be comprised by state support, the building of vertical and horizontal linkages, the removal of de facto bias for foreign capital in terms of excessive incentives, and the protection and strategic integration into the global economy.
Another speaker in the De La Salle forum, Philippine Technological Council head Fred Monzada, described how the Philippines currently sells nickel, chromite and manganese-rich laterite to China for its steel industry.
Monzada said the country has liberalized its mining industry and neglected developing its steel industry, it has lost to these neoliberal policies any capacity to process its own minerals, while stressing the importance of having a development plan for people within the strategic plan of developing a national industry.
The forum was co-sponsored by university-based youth group, Kapatiran para sa Kaunlaran. The talks also featured former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, who spoke on the history and obstacles in building a Philippine steel industry.
Last week’s forum was one of the industry consultation series aimed at building a roadmap for national industrialization. It was also a part of the economic nationalism lecture series which IBON and NEPA will hold throughout the year. [BicolToday.com]
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