Grassroots groups back alternative mining bill (HB 6342)

May. 28, 2009

DAVAO CITY – House Bill (HB) 6342 or Alternative Mining Bill (AMB) continues to draw support even among grassroots organizations and church formations in Southern and Central Mindanao.

Leaders of the Columbio Multi-Sectoral Ecology Movement (CMEM), an alliance of grassroots organizations in the Municipality of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat recently passed a resolution urging their district representative, Datu Pax S. Mangudadatu, to support the enactment of this bill.

The AMB reflects our position that the mining industry should be needs-based, should bring development to the local communities and does not favor foreign interests said Audie Itable, chairperson of CMEM.

What is more promising in the bill is that the bill ensures that the benefits from mining operations should outweigh the anticipated impacts to the community and the environment. Itable also reiterated their group’s call to scrap Republic Act (RA) 7942 otherwise known as the Mining Act of 1995.

The La Bugal-B’laaan Tribal Association, through its chairperson Quentol Labuayan, was present in the filing of the bill at the Office of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives. In 1997, La Bugal filed a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the Mining Act.

Ang AMB naghatag ug dakung respeto sa among katungod isip katawhang Lumad ug sa among yutang kabilin tungod kay ginaila niini nga kami ang nanag-iya bisan sa mga minerals nga anaa nasulod sa among teritoryo Labuayan said. (The AMB gives great respect to our rights as indigenous peoples because they acknowledge our right to our ancestral domains and the minerals in these territories.)

On March 2009, a multi-sectoral environmental alliance in Davao Oriental were also happy about the AMB. The group is committed to influence their own district representative Corazon Malanyaon to support the bill through the signatures they will gather from their respective communities. Hopefully, Mt. Hamiguitan and Pujada bay will be finally spared from mining activities with the passage of the AMB since these two are protected areas said Lilia Paglinawan, Luwas Kinaiyahan convenor.

Even church groups vowed to campaign for the passage of the bill. Fr. Romeo Catedral, the Social Action Director of the Diocese of Marbel said their diocese fully supports the Alternative Mining Bill. He also said that they demanded the scrapping of RA 7942.

We are not against development and we are not against mineral utilization. We believe that the alternative bill will ensure that benefits from mining will go not only to the community but will improve Philippine economy Catedral said. The bill will raise government share from mining to at least 10 percent apart from the direct share of the Local Government Units. (LGUs).

Catedral also lauds the bill since it clearly acknowledges the importance of environmental protection as well as food security and shows authentic respect to the communities. We hope our law makers will show real concern by supporting the passage of the bill.

The final bill was a product of years of consultations with various sectors and even economic and environmental experts to ensure that it reflects the interest of the indigenous peoples and local communities, their rights and the environment are protected, food security is prioritized and that the government will largely benefit from it said Atty. Rhia Muhi of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/KsK-FoE Phils).

The bill was authored by Rep. Riza Hontiveros-Baraquil , Rep. Walden Bello, Rep. Lorenzo Erin Tanada III, Rep. Carlos Padilla and Rep. Rufus Rodriguez. The filing was attended by various sectors including representatives from mining affected communities in Mindanao.

For reference:

Erwin B. Quinones
Campaigns Paralegal
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center
Kasama sa Kalikasan
Friends of the Earth Philippines
(LRC/KsK-FoE Phils)

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