On the eve of Earth Day, Panalipdan Southern Mindanao together with sectors and communities affected by mining disasters declares Mines and Geosciences Bureau inutile and not worth the Filipino taxpayers’ money. By allowing foreign large-scale corporations such as Glencore-Xstrata-SMI, Indophil, Apex, Oz Metals, St. Augustine, to name a few, the MGB has facilitated the destruction of the Philippine environment and the continuing suffering for thousands of peasants and indigenous peoples in the countryside.
In the 20 years of Mining Act of 1995, poverty in the country has only worsened. The mining industry that it aims to revitalize is not geared towards national development but resulted to misery. Contrary to claims that foreign investments will provide revenue to help the country, 100% foreign owned mining transnational corporations are allowed, in violation of the Philippine Constitution, full rights in exploiting up to 81,000 hectares onshore or 124,000 hectares offshore, aside from other rights and fringe benefits through the FTAA decreed in the Mining Act. FTAA holders are given exclusive and encompassing rights to exploit all natural resources, as well as the right to evict communities and enter private lands and concessions. They are also given 10-year tax holidays, duty-free importation, capital tax exemption, and 100% repatriation of profit and capital, among other incentives. Too much misery has been brought by MGB such as the encroachment on the ancestral domains of the B’laans in Tampakan by giving land claims to Glencore-Xstrata-SMI and the threats of displacement of the Mandaya’s and settlers of Compostela Valley from their farms and small scale ventures due to the operations of Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau had played a role in the downward spiral of the economy and the degradation of the environment. By interpreting only the letter of the law and not balancing whether these laws would benefit the country or not, the MGB has accelerated the destruction of the environment. For instance, the pollution of the river in Padcal due to the mishap of Philex Mines, the wide-scale destruction of marine life in Claver, Surigao del Sur due to the operations of Taganito Mining Corporation, the suffering of the people 19 years after Marcopper mining disaster in Marinduque, the pollution left by Lafayette Mining in Rapu-rapu, the landslides in Pantukan in 2011 due to the large-scale mining by Apex Mines, the deaths of Juvy Capion and her children in the hands of the 27th IBPA, which was under the payroll of Glencore-Xstrata-SMI, and the destruction of the small islands Manicani and Homonhon, to name a few. But the MGB have remained blind to these cases, and continued the approval of foreign large-scale mining operations. By faithfully implementing the Mining Act, MGB’s actions has directly led to the destruction of the environment, aggravating the social problems experienced by the people in the countryside due to militarization for purposes of corporate profit.
We push for the approval of the People’s Mining Bill through which a comprehensive review of the mining situation in the country will be carried out so that a reorientation of the mining industry will be realized with emphasis on the welfare of the mining-affected communities and domestic needs. We shall continue this struggle until our mining industry is nationalized in order for it to serve the needs of the Filipino people and its environmental impacts minimized. We the people, who stand to benefit most from the natural resources of this country and bear the right to a healthy environment, hereby proclaim the immediate closure of the MGB, till further notice