The business community agrees and fully supports President Aquino that for the country to reform its social fabric and achieve truly inclusive economic growth, it must attract much greater levels of investment in order to generate jobs, alleviate poverty and make our country a leader in Asia once again. But this must be done without compromising the environment for future generations.
Recognizing the potential of the country's huge mineral wealth, we are of the view that the Aquino government's goals can be attained through a judicious, rational, and developmental approach to minerals development. We support the advancement of legitimate, responsible mining that properly takes care of the environment during and after operations. And to do so, we need an environment of consistency, stability and harmonized policies. We also believe that the role of all mining stakeholders is to ensure the enforcement of all government regulations in terms of fair revenue sharing, responsive community development, and responsible stewardship of the environment.
If government really wants to encourage long-term and recurrent investments, it must be careful in making substantive changes to what is already a well-crafted mining law, in particular to ensure the investment environment is overall competitive to investing in the mineral-rich countries. It's more important that government focus on decisively implementing existing policies that encourage much-needed investments. And we ask those who oppose mining to help by monitoring mining activities to ensure they are operating responsibly with care of the environment. What is needed is stricter enforcement and monitoring, not a ban. We can all help to achieve this.
There is an overarching need for the national government to:
1. Strengthen the organizational and financial capacity of government mining and environment protection regulatory agencies to effectively do evaluation, monitoring and enforcement functions and mandate these agencies to compel small scale-mining operations to comply with environmental protection laws and to ensure that only Filipino citizens are allowed to do small-scale mining;
2. Facilitate the faster processing of pending mining and exploration permits and applications of legitimate investors;
3. Harmonize national laws and policies on mining with conflicting local ordinances, ordinances that should not conflict with national law;
4. Encourage Congress to immediately pass legislation to amend the existing mining laws to incorporate the new mining policy with prospective application to new projects to eliminate the anxieties of existing mining companies holding agreements and contracts validly approved under the existing mining laws;
5. Require a more equitable share in the minerals extracted in terms of direct national taxes and share in the net revenues of mining companies, and such share shall not be unduly deferred until full cost recovery;
6. Address the tax and export leakages in illegal mining and the small-scale mining sector to enable the government to collect the proper revenues;
7. Earmark a fixed percentage of government's earnings from mining for programs that will create new capital, develop human resources and build horizontal infrastructure;
8. Initiate close consultation with all mining stakeholders to review revenue sharing policies, particularly by certifying as urgent HB No. 4410 on the direct remittances to LGUs of their 40% share from mining taxes;
9. Compel the mining companies to submit a definite program of rehabilitation/restoration of the areas of extraction and implement said program at their expense within a year after cessation of extraction from a particular geographic area;
10. Require mining establishments to assume full responsibility in the prevention, mitigation, elimination, and correction of any environmental and social damage that may occur during their operation at the mined site and the peripheral areas/communities;
11. Ban any kind of mining in any watershed or protected area and prosecute grantors of permits in these off-limits areas at the national and/or local government levels.
12. Encourage the development of downstream industries within an industrial development framework and an environment that will provide for security of investments in far-flung areas;
We have a choice between fear and faith, between hardship and hope, between division and unity. Our task is to find the common ground of reason, through patient dialogue and constructive suggestions – and from there, move forward to the more prosperous future our people deserve.
Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)
Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport)