Government asked to recall order lifting a moratorium on new mining projects

The Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) supports the call to President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider the Executive Order No. 130 or the lifting of moratorium on mining that will open doors for mining expansion and other extraction activities that may be harmful to the environment. || File photo.

The Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC)  has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to recall its order lifting the moratorium on new mining projects, citing its negative overall impact on the environment.

The new EO, among others, increases the excise tax from 2% to 4% as contained in Republic Act (RA) 10963 or the “TRAIN law” which is not the reform that the previous EO 79 sought to accomplish.

ELAC also called for reforms in the Philippine Mining Act or RA 7942, so that it addresses social and environmental issues and recognizes the rights of local communities, Indigenous Peoples (IPs), and Local Government Units (LGUs) to approve or disapprove mineral extraction.

“[The government should] instead urgently pursue reforms in the mining fiscal regime to ensure a more equitable, transparent, and fair revenue sharing scheme and mechanism,” a statement from ELAC said.

“Other reforms needed include changes in the fiscal regime of mining such as an increase in mineral royalty payments, the imposition of windfall gain tax and the scrapping of unnecessary incentives,” it added.

ELAC pointed out that the new EO opens doors to the expansion of mining activities as well as gives opportunities for the extraction of environment.

Under the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (RA 7611), most of the nickel mining areas in the province are natural forests considered as core zone.

It also cited that there are plans pending before the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to change the core and restricted zones into multiple use zones in order to accommodate mining projects.

“ELAC is deeply concerned that this new EO will give impetus to existing mining companies to actively pursue their applications for expansion of their mining areas in Palawan. It will likewise further open up Palawan’s natural forests, key biodiversity areas, watersheds and ancestral domains to extractive activities,” it added.

Bantay Kita, a coalition of organizations for transparency and accountability in extractive industry said it is dismayed and disheartened over the issuance of the new EO that lifts the mining moratorium.

Bantay Kita said reforms for mining should be enacted as fair economic contribution from the mining industry including the increase in mineral royalty payments and the imposition of windfall gain tax.

They called on President Duterte, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) and the Department of Finance (DoF) to review existing mining contracts, consult LGUs, and support legislations for revenue sharing and other concerns.

“We urge the President to reconsider EO 130 and declare as urgent reforms in the mining fiscal regime to ensure a more equitable, transparent, and fair revenue sharing scheme and mechanism,” Bantay Kita said in statement posted in its Facebook Page Thursday.

Also on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte lifted moratorium on mining agreements along with the same EO which directs the DENR to formulate terms and conditions to maximize revenues from the operation of the mining companies.

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