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Congress champions re-file alternative minerals management bill

[SOS Yamang Bayan Network Press Release]

Congress champions re-file alternative minerals management bill

SOS Yamang Bayan push harder to repeal Mining Act

QUEZON CITY—Champions from the Senate and House of Representatives re-filed the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) that will repeal the Mining Act of 1995.

The AMMB is posed to promote a mining regime that is pro-poor, pro-environment and one that serves more for the benefit of Filipino communities and economy, as opposed to Republic Act No. 7942 that promotes large-scale mining and exploitation of our mineral resources at the expense of our precious environment and peoples.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña and Reps. Teddy Brawner-Baguilat, Kaka Bag-ao, Carlos Padilla, Eleandro Madrona, Rufus Rodriguez, ABAMIN Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, and Akbayan Reps. Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez sponsor senate Bill No. 43 and House Bill No. 984 respectively.

Ifugao Rep. Baguilat said, “The AMMB is our solution to the concerns raised by mining-affected communities and local government units on mining. This bill looks at environmental, health and social safeguards, and at the same time guarantees mining revenues for local and national government units and royalties to indigenous peoples.

“Now contrary to the claim of the mining sector, AMMB is not an anti-mining bill—we are proposing a policy that will be more responsive to the needs of host communities, sensitive to the environment, and that will yield economic development.”

SOS Yamang Bayan Network, a multi-stakeholder coalition that pushes for the enactment of the bill welcomed the filing of AMMB. The network held its second assembly on July 1 and 2 in Quezon City to consolidate and renew its campaign to push the bill under the 16th Congress.

“We believe that our legislators and the Pnoy Administration should certify AMMB as urgent to prevent more disastrous impacts of large scale mining to indigenous communities and rural poor dependent on natural resources and to the environment” said Erwin Quiñones, SOS-Yamang Bayan Network coordinator.

Quinones added that under the present law, the mining industry allows big foreign and local mining companies to exploit our mineral resources at will, yet leaving communities divided and underdeveloped and which traditional livelihoods directly dependent on natural resources destroyed.

“Worst, their basic rights were even undermined by these greedy corporations, resulting to numerous cases of human rights violations,” he concluded.

AMMB not EO 79, proposed mining fiscal regime

Executive Order No. 79-2011 is the response of the Aquino administration to current mining issues. Despite this, SOS Yamang Bayan Network believes that the order is only a piecemeal solution to the flaws in Republic Act 7942.

Meanwhile, the network further explains that the pronouncement of the government to come up with a new mining fiscal regime is only responds to the financial or economic side of the industry, when what is needed is a paradigm shift.

Judy Pasimio, coordinator of Purple Action for Indigenous Women Rights, explains: “The current mining law has been used as a legal argument for different forms of injustices against mining-affected communities and institutionalizing the control of large corporations of our natural resources. There’s no other time to pass the alternative minerals management bill but NOW. We hope this new Congress realized that the issue of mining is a matter of life and death for a lot of rural and indigenous communities.”

Meanwhile, incoming Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said Congress must build on the people’s success in compelling President Aquino to issue an executive order, which explicitly declared which areas should not be included in mining operations.

“Last year, we were successful in persuading President Aquino to issue Executive Order. 79, which prohibits tourism sites, farmlands, marine sanctuaries and island ecosystems from mining operations. The EO also recognized the indigenous people and their communities as important stakeholders in the mining issue. While the EO is still wanting in many respects, I believe the momentum it created must be sustained and harnessed as we urge the new Congress to pass an Alternative Minerals Managements Law,” Gutierrez said.

“It’s high time for Congress to put premium in the ecological value of our country’s mineral resources, and shift the land use priority towards environmental protection, food security and sustainable development. No less than an alternative Minerals Law will do this,” Gutierrez added.

-- The SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of individual advocates, mining-affected communities, national peoples’ alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, congressional representatives, leaders and personalities advocating for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new minerals management bill.

For more information, contact the SOS-YB Network secretariat through Erwin Quiñones, 0921.304.4884 / 0917.585.3817 or Farah Sevilla, 0923.512.2374 / 0915.331.3361

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