Saturday, August 27, 2016
Hontiveros, Community Leaders File Alternative Mining Bill
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday filed a bill to limit mining operations and ensure the protection of communities and the environment through taxes and heavy fines.
Together with community leaders and advocates from Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), the neophyte Senator filed the Alternative Minerals Management Bill or Senate Bill #1069 to "rectify the failure of Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Law of 1995", the country's current law governing mining.
"There is a need to overhaul our current mining policy to ensure the proper management and utilization of our mineral resources", Hontiveros said.
The Senator also lamented the "low return and high costs of mining", citing that the industry only contributes 0.7% to the country's gross domestic product" while incurring high costs in terms of environmental degradation, loss of livelihood and human rights violations.
Hontiveros, also an environmental advocate, seeks to factor climate change in the government's mining policy framework by inculcating environmental tax and the establishment of a Calamity and Human Rights Protection Fund.
"It's time for mining companies to ensure that their operations do not harm the environment and are a source of contribution to the community", she added. "Super-heavy fines and revocation of licenses to operate await mining companies that violate the law", warned Hontiveros.
"The bill also limits the areas of operations of mining companies", she further explained. The bill protects watershed, key biodiversity areas, critical habitats and geo-hazard areas are no-go zones for mining companies.
Aside from the bill, Hontiveros supports a comprehensive review of all existing mining applications and licenses of all mining countries to determine what companies and mining areas, including places near settlements and biodiversity areas, are compliant with their respective environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) and those that have repeated records of abuse and exploitation. The Senator is also supporting the call of environmental advocates for a thorough investigation on the real economic benefits of mining.