BAGUIO CITY – Kalinga Rep. and Mountain Province caretaker Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang underscored the need to overhaul the country’s mining industry to allow the lucrative extractive industry to be one of the major catalyst of development in the future.
Speaking before mineral industry stakeholders during the Mineral Sympotium spearheaded by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) at the CAP John Hay Convention Center recently, Mangaoang, who is also the vice chairman of the House committee on natural resources, emphasized the need for the government to implement a 6-point agenda that will compel mineral industry stakeholders to practice responsible mining to erase the negative impression of the people on mining considering that it is always the negative effects of mining that is being highlighted by the anti-mining advocates and cause-oriented groups.
“Mining industry stakeholders must unite and speak as one. Mining should become a unifying factor instead of a divisive one.,” Mangaoang stressed.
He disclosed one of the pending bills being deliberated by the House committee on natural resources is for the grant of legislative franchises to mining companies interested to do mining in mineralized areas around the country to make sure that the representatives of the people to monitor the conduct of mining and for Congress to easily revoke the granted franchise to erring companies.
Despite its limited land area, the Philippines is still one of the countries in the world with a highly mineralized land area wherein 30 percent of its total land area or more than 9 million hectares are classified to be mineralized areas with substantial ore deposits suitable for mining.
Further, he pointed out that the watersheds that will be spared from mining activities should not only be confined to critical watersheds but it should be expanded to existing and declared watersheds to ensure the sustainable preservation and protection of the environment for the benefit of the present and future generations.
Mangaoang said among the pending proposals for amendment to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is for the removal of the confidentiality clause of the permits and agreements being entered by mining companies with the indigenous peoples (IP) communities to allow greater transparency and accountability to avoid suspicion that there are some provisions which are being hidden from the beneficiaries.
According to him, there should be mandatory processing of minerals in the country and that exports of mineral ores should be banned so that the industry will greatly benefit from the minerals being mined out from the various parts of the country.
Mangaoang added that there should be a return of creditable benefits to the host and neighboring communities to prevent the mining companies from allegedly bloating their expenditures that result to lesser taxes paid to the national and local governments, thus, the hidden expenditures should be scrapped to make sure that more taxes will be paid to the government by the mining companies.
Lastly, he claimed there is also a need to institutionalize the extractive industry transparency initiative to ensure that watchdogs to help in making sure that responsible mining in the country will be enhanced.
Mangaoang expressed concern over the aggressive moves of anti-mining advocates in depicting a bad image of the mining industry which should serve as a wakeup call for mining industry stakeholders to get their acts together in helping uplift the mining industry and for the people to be able to know that there is such thing as responsible mining.
Mangaoang emphasized the mining industry must make drastic measures to effectively and efficiently address the negligible contributions of mining to the country’s economy which was only 0.63 percent amidst the tremendous volume of minerals that are being mined out of the mineralized areas in the country.
The lawmaker expressed his support to the mining industry because of its significant contributions to the growth and development, especially of its host and neighboring communities, but there is a need for the industry stakeholders to start showcasing their best practices on responsible mining to provide the public the greater opportunity to have a clearer picture on what mining should be.