July 12, 2011
European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
It is certainly heartening to note that despite the various problems confronting it, including the existence of unscrupulous small-scale miners, the multi-billion-dollar mining industry still remains to be one of the bright spots in the Philippines investment prospect.
That's why we commend the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFCP) for noting that the proliferation of illegal small-scale miners is a result of the lack of coordination among government agencies tasked to enforce national mining and other environmental laws and regulations.
In a position paper submitted to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), headed by Secretary Ramon Paje, the group conceded, however, that the sector continues to be an aatractive investment destination with the sheer magnitude of the nation's mineral resources.
The seven-member and influential JFCP is composed of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Korean chambers of commerce and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies.
The group said that "there is a substantial misunderstanding and disconnect between the practices of small-scale miners and those mining companies specified under the Mining Act of 1995." Other concerned state agencies also were furnished copies of the JFCP position paper.
And nauseating are reports that several small-scale mining operators across the country are being coddled by some local politicians and operating beyond their prescribed capacities and with the complete disregard of whatever damage they cause to the environment.
Unlike large-scale mining operations that are regulated by the DENR and covered by the Mining Act of 1995, small-scale miners are only required to secure provincial government permits and do not comply with national environmental laws and regulations.
We agree with the group that there's a need for a more coordinated approach to the problems on lillegal mining. And JFCP urged the government to reestablish the Minerals Development Council (MDC) to respond to the various mining and other environmental issues.
The observations and recommendations of the group of foreign and local businessmen should raise the cue for other industry stakeholders to support efforts to promote responsible mining throughout the Philippines.
And we hope to see the countryside, where majority of the poor live and work, bloom with the help of the mining industry.
Source: PJ Tonight; Opinyon; 12 July 2011