UST Hosts Luzon Conference on Mining and Ecology
A representative from the Environment Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) proposed an improved
national mining policy in a conference organized by the Save Palawan Movement (SPM) that
was hosted by the University of Santo Tomas through the Central Student Council (CSC) on Feb.
Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda of ELAC said the proposed policy from the Ateneo School of
Government is “evidence-based and grounded on national consensus and a balancing of
stakeholder interests; and accurately accounts for benefits and costs in order to make rational
According to Anda, the existing mining policy is export-oriented and dependent on foreign
capital. She also said the Philippine Mining Act provides plenty of incentives to mining
Incentives such as tax holiday during recovery of pre-operating expenses for a maximum of five
years from commercial production, income tax carry forward of losses, income tax accelerated
depreciation of fixed assets, and exemption from payment of real property taxes on pollution
“Our laws are over generous,” she said.
Anda also said the government continues to prioritize the revitalization of mining industry
through Executive Order 247, a Mineral Action Plan, despite the fact that it did not mention
the measures against abusive mining firms and provide protection for the environment and the
She also said critical decisions were made based on commercial mining’s sites and not on the
concerns of local communities.
“According to the Ateneo School of Government, men need to account for benefits and costs in
order to make rational decisions,” she said.
On its effect in Palawan
The conference discussed whether the costs of mining outweigh its effects on health,
livelihood, and welfare of Filipinos.
SPM argued that despite the decade-long existence of mining industry in the Philippines, it has
not yet proven its impact in the lives of marginalized Filipino families.
According to them, for instance, Bataraza, the host community of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining
Corporation for more than 30 years, still remains to be one of the top ten poorest
municipalities in Palawan. The municipality, according to them, is still in need of basic services,
such as electricity, water, education, and many others.
“This means that whatever development there is in the area does not directly affect the lives of
the people in general,” SPM said.
According to a study by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) entitled “A Legacy of Disasters: The Mining
Situation in the Philippines-2011”, the enactment of the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942)
brought destruction on the social and environmental landscape of the country.
“The sequence of events when the strategy shifted from tolerant regulation to aggressive
promotion brought into spotlight the myriad of problems in the mining sector.”
SPM also said mining operations caused worst environmental tragedies in the country.
Tragedies such as the mining disaster in Marinduque in 1996, the Atlas Mining disaster in
Sapangkaku River in Toledo City, Cebu in 1999, and the Rapu-Rapu mine tailings spills in 2005.
“In Palawan alone, there were two major accidents involving mining operations in 2011 where
coral reefs were destroyed, hectares of farmlands disadvantaged, and tons of nickel spilled into
the sea. And up until today, there are literally hundreds of abandoned mined sites that remain
unrehabilitated and the people around them continue to suffer,” SPM said.
Mining industry’s inputs to Philippine economy
Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman and SPM advocate, Atty. Christian
Monsod said: “The development role of mining is always described as ‘potential’ because
mining has never played a major role in our sustainable development, not even during the
mining boom of the 70s and early 80s.”
The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) data showed that Mining and Quarrying’s
Gross Value Added in industry sector decreased from 34.583 million pesos in 2010 to 33.866
million in 2011.
Mining and Quarrying shared -2.1 % to the industry sector’s 5.5% contribution in Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011. The industry sector posted the lowest share in the total GDP.
Among the three industries, service sector recorded the highest share in GDP with 10.1 %
growth rate followed by the agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing industries with 6.1 %
SPM said “the contribution of mining in the country’s gross domestic product in 2007 reveals
that mining industry only accounted for 1.4% (90 billion pesos). In contrast, agriculture, fishery,
and forestry accounted for 16.5% of the total GDP on the second quarter of 2009 alone.”
“It should be noted that these sectors—agriculture, fisheries, and forestry—have been
recognized as key industries that are hugely threatened by continuing aggressive mining
promotion in the country today,” SPM said.
SPM, a non-profit, multi-sectoral volunteer organization which campaigns for NO to Mining in
Palawan, organized the Luzon Conference on Mining and Ecology at the Medicine Auditorium.
By Karen Mae C. Guarin