The claim that there is such a thing as responsible mining in the Philippines is proven false by facts. Mining encroaches on many laws in the country that protect the environment.  Around two-thirds of the ancestral domain lands of indigenous peoples and half of the protected and key biodiversity areas are directly threatened by mining applications and operations. These areas had been already delineated and set aside by earlier laws as reserved areas but still mining applications are given, and much worse, entertained, by government agencies. By their applications alone they already go against the laws. Is this responsible?

Due to malpractices and substandard operations, several mining enterprises had been ordered closed in 2017. However, despite the strong evidence against 26 mining operations ordered closed or suspended last Feb 2017, not one mine has stopped its extractive activities. They just simply appealed to the Office of the President or to the DENR and they continued operating. No serious efforts have been made to see whether they have complied with the government regulations and even with their own manual of operations. Is this responsible mining?

Social justice is not served by the present state of mining in the country. Only mining companies and their owners reap the benefits from mineral extraction. The rural poor in the mining areas remain poor. A clear evidence is that the provinces in the country which have been extensively mined remain poor. The mining industry cannot name one province whose economic and social status has improved due to mining. Once mining operations stop, and they will stop since mining is not a sustainable activity, the people of the place remain not only poor but even become poorer because their environment has been devastated.  In truth, mining, in spite of its destruction trail, contributed less the 1% to our gross domestic Product (GDP) though the years. Despite its claims of giving employment to the local people, and its big capitalization, it employs less than 0.4% of our local labor force. The direct benefits to the people are very meager and they directly threaten agriculture, forestry, watersheds and the fishery resources of the rural poor in the areas where they operate. In many areas the health and physical safety of the people are placed at risk. Is this responsible mining?

No wonder, local churches, the local peoples and the places where mining operates are up in arms. Mining in the Philippines is just that – extractive, and destructive!

Broderick Pabillo

July 4, 2019