The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wants amendments to the country’s Mining Act of 1995.
In an interview with ANC, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the existing law on mining, which pegs excise tax at a mere 2 percent would be grossly disadvantageous to the government and communities.
He said Congress should amend the law and raise the gross revenues from mining to 5 percent to 7 percent before the 2013 elections.
“The position of the president is if we continue signing contracts at 2 percent, we are depriving the future generations…My proposal is to certify it as urgent… Hopefully they will be able to pass it before the elections, but if not, we can ask the president to make it an urgent bill and make it a priority bill for the next Congress,” he said.
Malacanang released on Monday Executive Order 79, which prescribes that new legislation on revenue sharing should be passed before new mining agreements can be signed. “No new mineral agreements shall be entered into until a legislation rationalising existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect,” the EO read.
The mining policy a slew of reactions from stakeholders.
Amid protests, however, Paje hailed the new mining policy as a balanced and sound one.
He also believes it will elevate the environmental standard and will protect communities against the ill-effects of mining.
“It’s a strong but also the correct stance on mining. The position of the president is why do we have to sign a disadvantageous contract and somehow disadvantage the future generations? Even if we allow extractive industries for national development, we cannot sacrifice the environment, and vice versa,” he said.
He added that even if the country goes for environmental conservation, the country should not stifle economic growth. “So it’s a very balanced policy.”
In a position paper, 72 bishops on Monday asked for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995
“We see the need to go beyond the micro-policy initiatives and torecommend for a promulgation of national law that prioritises ecological protection and promotes environmental justice, principles of stewardship and of the common good,” they said.
They called for the passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), which they said “offers a far more sustainable approach to utilisation and protection of our country’s natural resources.”