Gov’t mining moratorium should stay until Congress finishes new law – Casiño

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Former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño. Contributed Photo
Rep. Teddy Casiño. Photo by Charlotte Job Despuez

MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño today called on the Aquino administration to hold its horses” with regard to its intent to lift the moratorium on the acceptance and grant of new mining applications until Congress finishes crafting a new mining law.

“I deplore Environment Secretary Ramon Paje’s statement that they want to immediately lift the moratorium on mining applications just to impress foreign investors in the Mining Philippines 2011 Conference organized by the Philippine Chamber of Mines. I strongly suggest that Sec. Paje retract that statement while we are processing a new mining policy that will in fact make the industry more profitable for the country and our people,” Casiño said.

The Bayan Muna solon is author of House Bill 4315, also known as the People’s Mining Bill, that aims to reorient the mining industry towards national industrialization, agricultural modernization, environmental sustainability and respect for human rights.

“I also understand the mining chamber’s assertion that there is indeed a policy discord with regard to various laws that govern mining in the country. But our constituencies have said that the current mining law (Republic Act 7942) is in fact the major problem as it has permitted mining activities that are only geared towards satisfying the international world market instead of the development of our own nation’s industries. We should use our finite mineral resources to modernize our economy, not the economies of developed nations and enrich the pockets of foreign mining magnates,” Casiño said.

HB 4315 aims to end the mining industry’s foreign-dominated nature and export-oriented character.

“The bill, along with similar measures pending in Congress, aim to make the industry revenue-transparent and domestic-oriented so that government can use the billions of pesos from mining to spur local development and fund social services. We want to put an end to mining companies’ habit of under-reporting their production to evade taxes that short change the government,” Casiño said.

Citing figures from a 2007 Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) report, the Bayan Muna solon said that the gross production value of metallic mining was at P81.4 billion “that could have been used for local agricultural upgrading and initiatives towards building industries.”

“But total metallic exports were at P112.015 billion in the same year – that is a 30 billion discrepancy that shows that indeed the policy framework of the current mining law is not only flawed, but untransparent. This is also a reason why we want a new mining law before any new mining concessions are given out by the government,”Casiño said.

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