Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Aquino says mining EO out by June 22

MANILA, Philippines - The much-awaited executive order on the government's mining policy may be out by Friday, June 22. 

In a press briefing in Davao City on Wednesday, June 20, President Aquino said he is hoping to release the mining E.O. within the week, or after some details, especially on the revenues received by the government, are fine-tuned.

"The basis to impose higher fees or royalties, etc, is also being fleshed out," he told reporters after he attended the ARMM Convention on Local Governance. 

He reiterated his previous concern about the economic, legal and environmental issues that hound the industry. He said the part on revenue sharing will determine if legislation is needed to ensure a better share for the government.

"Presently, it's about 2% (of income taxes paid), if my memory serves me right. The total taxes involved will not even reach 10% of what they are making from the extraction of our resources. That's not fair. We get less than 10% (from the mining companies), but we [pay] 100% in case there's a problem," he said, referring to the difference between the economic returns and costs. 

He also reiterated the 78 placed designated as eco-tourism areas where mining cannot take place, as well as designate the "minahan ng bayan" areas where small scale miners can operate.

He said small scale miners will be subjected to more regulation under the new mining policy. 

President Aquino himself sought for the comprehensive review of the government’s mining policy and the industry’s environmental and economic impacts. He was also concerned with safety issues and the dislocation of indigenous peoples.

On Tuesday, June 19, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said the final draft of the EO has been submitted for President Aquino's approval

In a statement, Ochoa described the proposed EO as an effort to "strike a balance between interests or supposedly conflicting interests between the mining industry and the environment, among others." 

Ochoa said the proposed mining policy, if approved, will harmonize conflicting policies on mining. This is a critical issue. Conflictling national and local policies have resulted in various problems in the industry. 

“Hopefully, we will be able to put some order in approving and in handling mining applications,” Ochoa said.

The mining EO was supposed to be issued last February but mining companies asked to get more involved in the crafting of the mining policy. -

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