HEADLINES

Exploration or Exploitation: What we Need to Know About Mining in the Philippines

By Franciss Nikole Elli | May 5, 2021

In 2016, when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, he was known to oppose mining as
he said that mining degrades the environment. In 2017, he imposed a ban on open-pit mining.
This was greatly supported by his then secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR), Gina Lopez. With Lopez’s one year in office, there were closure and
suspension permits of 26 mining operations for violation of environmental regulations. However,
Executive Order No. 130 recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the moratorium on
new mining agreements. The news came off as a shock and was dubbed as “an overturn of
events”.

In the name of economic recovery

The said EO was aimed to revive the country’s economy after the recession brought by the
COVID-19 pandemic. The mining sector is expected to support the president’s flagship project,
“Build, Build, Build”, with more mining equating to more job opportunities. According to the
International Labor Organization (ILO), different sectors such as wholesale and retail trade,
manufacturing, and real estate dwindled in the past year due to the pandemic, however, the
mining sector grew by 1.13%, driven mainly by nickel demand from China and the high price of
gold.

Furthermore, the government expects more income from the mining sector through royalties
and taxes. The Tax Reform for Acceleration of Inclusion (TRAIN) Act passed in 2017 “doubled”
the rate of excise tax on minerals, mineral products, and quarry resources from 2% to 4%.
However, these projections do not seem very promising when compared to the price we pay.

The price we pay

Although the government foresees a surge in revenues from these mining activities, an article
from Philippine Star Global dated January this year, said that the mining industry contributed
only “only one-sixth of one percent of the GDP” while it only had less than 1.5 percent
contribution to tax collection, 6 percent to exports and only half of 1 percent to employment.
According to Bishop Allan Casicas of the Diocese of Marbel and leader of the Eco-Convergence
Hub in Mindanao, “…while the Tampakan mines in South Cotabato could potentially generate at
least $8 billion in export earnings with two other mining operations in Mindanao, it would also
exponentially destroy the Mindanao River Basin which would severely affect nine provinces
equivalent to more than 3.5 million population,”
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, on the other hand, said, “We are in the countryside and we are
seeing no economic improvement in the lives of the people from mining. The government is
again trying to fool us with false promises at the expense of our already suffering people and
deteriorating environment.”

Two cents on the issue

The collective efforts of average civilians do not equate to the government’s power over these
resources. The government must stop exploiting these resources. It should cease its
exploitation of these natural resources in the guise of “explorations” and “improvements”. Only
then shall we be spared from nature’s wrath.

References

Aguilar, K. (2021, April 15). Duterte lifts moratorium on new mining agreements. INQUIRER.net.
https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1419356/duterte-lifts-moratorium-on-new-mining-
agreements

Chavez, L. (2021, April 15). “Complete turnaround”: Philippines’ Duterte lifts ban on new mining
permits. Mongabay Environmental News.
https://news.mongabay.com/2021/04/complete-turnaround-philippines-duterte-lifts-ban-
on-new-mining-permits/#:~:text=When%20he%20assumed%20office%20in

Groups dismayed at the lifting of mining ban. (2021, April 16). Manila Standard.
https://manilastandard.net/news/national/352049/groups-dismayed-at-the-lifting-of-
mining-ban.html

Philippines’ Duterte lifts ban on new mining deals | The Star. (2021, April 17).
www.thestar.com.my. https://www.thestar.com.my/aseanplus/aseanplus-
news/2021/04/17/philippines039-duterte-lifts-ban-on-new-mining-deals

Ranada, P. (2021, April 21). Duterte lifts ban on new mining agreements. Rappler.
https://www.rappler.com/business/duterte-lifts-ban-new-mining-agreements

About theweeklysillimanian (1993 Articles)
Official student news publication of Silliman University.

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