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Baclaran photo exhibit exposes ‘dark side’ of mining

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PARAÑAQUE City, June 4, 2015—In keeping with the forthcoming celebration of “World Environment Day,” the National Shrine of Our Mother Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church) has mounted anew a mini photo exhibit which aims to raise awareness about the adverse impact of irresponsible and unbridled mining.

In line with this, a signature campaign is concurrently conducted in the Baclaran Church compound today until after World Environment Day in order to gather as much popular support as possible for the repeal of the controversial Mining Act of 1995.

While more famous for its well-attended novena masses, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Parañaque City regularly hosts a mini photo exhibit and a signature drive calling for the junking of the “Mining Act of 1995” which allegedly “legalizes the plunder of our remaining natural resources by foreign companies.” (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

‘Scrap mining act’

In a written statement, the “Scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 Network,” a coalition composed of religious and secular groups, stresses that “large-scale mining is a life-and-death issue for the indigenous and Filipino people.”

While it admits that mining is important in “building national industries and [in] providing for the industrial needs of the people”, the alliance laments that the industry “has unjustly enriched a few at the expense of the vast majority and the environment.”

Destroyed environment, human rights violations

It points out that the reversal of the unconstitutionality of Republic Act (R.A.) 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 more than ten years ago has only brought about the “plunder of resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of our environment and ecosystem, human rights violations, loss of traditional livelihoods, gross violations of indigenous peoples’ collective rights and its replacement of low-wage, insecure jobs.”

The Scrap the Mining Act Alliance, moreover, hits those controlling the local mining industry and the law that protects it for lacking direction towards “utilizing our mineral resources and developing our national industries” even as foreign firms are allowed to “rake in billions of dollars in profits … and Filipinos in mining-affected communities remain poor.”

Privileges?

According to the alliance, the Mining Act of 1995 gives mining companies the following privileges:

  • Up to 100% foreign-owned capital and repatriation profit
  • Freedom from requisition of investment, freedom from expropriation
  • Tax exemption for a grace period of ten years
  • Easement rights, water rights, and timber rights
  • Tariff and tax exemption for the materials and supplies imported for their mining operation or exploration and free use of port for ten years. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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