Solons bat for alternative minerals management bill, thumb down EO 130
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the alternative minerals management bill (AMMB). Credit: Senator Risa Hontiveros Facebook page.
After President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order that lifted a moratorium on new mining agreements, legislators are calling on Congress to pass a new mining law that will address issues in the mining sector.
“The issuance of Executive Order 130 is premature. The industry is hounded by environmental and human rights issues. The only way to reform the industry is to pass a new law that will reconfigure how we treat minerals. This new law will provide a much more comprehensive policy framework that will strike a balance between allowing mining and promoting healthful ecology and the welfare of communities who will be impacted by mining,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the alternative minerals management bill (AMMB), which has been lodged in Congress for ten years now.
The AMMB seeks to repeal Republic Act No. 7942, or the 1995 Mining Act, and institutionalize a new paradigm for managing the country’s minerals, including putting stronger environmental safeguards in place.
“Under the AMMB, critical environmental areas will be closed to mining. These areas include critical watersheds and critical habitats, key biodiversity areas, small island ecosystems, areas at risk to disaster and climate change impacts, traditional swidden farms and hunting grounds, among others. We Filipinos depend on natural resources for our survival; we must exhaust all means to protect these areas,” said Congress Lawrence Fortun, who has filed the AMMB in the House of Representatives.
Congressman Lawrence Fortun. Credit: Atty. Lawrence "Law" Fortun Facebook page.
Under the AMMB, minerals will only be mined if they are considered strategic for the country’s national industrialization. The AMMB also increases the current 4% tax on mining to 10%. The AMMB argues that this tax rate is a far more reasonable rate, in view of the risks inherent in mining.
“The present mining law, Republic Act No. 7942, encourages mining almost purely for export. Foreigners, and not Filipinos, are benefiting from our minerals. What’s more, the contribution of mining to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has been averaging below 1% annually. Considering how destructive mining is, the numbers are not adding up. With AMMB, we will be able to transform the mining sector so it will aid, not undermine, nation-building,” said Maya Quirino, coordinator of the SOS Yamang Bayan Network, a multi-sectoral alliance of indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, people’s organizations, youth, and artists pushing for the AMMB.
Another salient feature of the AMMB is its section on penal provisions. The AMMB provides for stiffer penalties on mining companies that commit human rights or environmental violations. The present mining act, for example, only penalizes illegal mineral exploration with a fine of 50,000 pesos – a drop in the bucket for mining companies that earn millions of dollars.
“We hope more legislators support the AMMB and usher in a truly responsive legal framework for managing the country’s finite mineral resources,” Quirino added.
SOS Yamang Bayan Network is convened by the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center.*