Yesterday's Ratsada sa Inquirer was a blast. Co-host Erin Tanada and Den Macaranas talked about the issue of mining. Mining is a hot issue right now shortly after President Aquino drew first blood with the release of Executive Order 79.
Executive Order 79 intends to change the present rules of the game in mining. It seeks to establish certain parameters for government to fully benefit from the gains of mining. The present Philippine Mining Act of 1995, several analysts said, is ripe for a modification or eventual destruction. That mining act, says Sonny Melencio, a stanch responsible mining advocate is responsible for delimiting government's ability to extract revenues from this industry. It is also partial to foreign mining interests.
Under the Mining act, government stands to gain just 2% of mining revenues. Of course, mining firms also pay income taxes, but compared with other countries, the Philippines gets a miniscule amount from the billions gained from mining.
Executive Order 79, though seeking several substantial changes in the mining rules, is still a mestiso measure. It is too accommodating for pro-environmental groups and too soft for foreign and local mining companies especially those breaking the law on ecology. Credit that to an administration that is seeking to maintain its political dominance come 2013.
Erin Tanada's consolidated mining bill now filed in Congress, seeks to introduce a more pro-people and a more efficient minerals management process.
The bill not just takes away the infirmities of the Mining Act of 1995---it radically shifts the focus of government, from merely regulating the industry, to fully or somewhat nationalizing it.
Tanada's bill is a step towards the right direction. The People should support it. The People should start discussing its fine points.