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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Duterte signs Executive Order No.130; lifts moratorium on new contracts

President Duterte lifts nine-year moratorium on mining agreements

MANILA – After waiting for nine years since then President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III imposed a moratorium on new mining agreements, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 130, which states that the moratorium “is hereby lifted.”

It will be recalled President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 79 which suspended applications for mineral contracts in protected areas, prime agricultural lands, tourism development areas, and other critical areas such as island ecosystems.

President Duterte’s order provides that” the Government may enter into new mineral agreements, subject to compliance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other applicable laws, rules and regulations.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) may now continue to grant and release Exploration Permits, as provided for in the Executive Order.

The same agency has been director to frame terms and conditions in the new mineral agreements that will enhance government revenues and share from production, including the possibility of declaring these areas as mineral reservations to obtain appropriate royalties.

The executive order directed the DENR to review all existing mining contracts and agreement for possible renegotiation as the country. President Duterte said the country has tapped less than 5 percent of its vast mineral resources endowment to date. He added a tax reform law that he signed almost four years ago doubled the excise tax on minerals, mineral production and quarry resources from 2 percent to 4 percent.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines welcomed the lifting of the moratorium, “in this time of great national difficulty as a result of the COVIC-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the CMP said the industry’s positive impact on host communities stand to benefit in areas like CARAGA and the MIMAROPA.

“Executive Order 130 will help bring the Philippines back on the investment map,” the COMP said in their statement released before midday today. The Chamber added with the adequate social and environmental laws, rules, and regulations are in place to mitigate the impact of mining on communities and the environment.

“The members of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines have voluntarily adopted the Towards Sustainable Mining program, a global social and environmental performance that compels us to operate beyond mere compliance,” they added.

The Chamber explained they have subscribed to the Extractive Industries Transparency initiative to manifest their commitment to the highest standards of transparency and accountability in business.

Engr. Louie Sarmiento, immediate past president of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association said they welcome the development.

“Fresh investments in mining will definitely help our economy recover faster. Fresh investments in Mining will definitely help our economy recover faster,” he said in a text message to this writer.

He added with new projects across the regions, they see a reinforcement of the government’s program Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pagasa where new employment opportunities will be seen across the regions.

Meanwhile, IBON Executive Director Sonny Africa said lifting the moratorium on mining “without domestic industries to process and use the minerals will just mean that the most significant value-added from our finite mineral resources will keep going to foreign firms, industries and economies.”

He said the cost is great, but the real economic gains are negligible.

Mr. Africa said even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, mining and quarrying only employed 190,000 in 2019. He added the number is not even half a percentage point of total employment and the two-week NCR+ ECQ even displaced more jobs than that.

The P15.5 billion in taxes, fees and royalties paid to government about two years ago is negligible even with the additional excise tax from the TRAIN law.

He surmised the EO No. 130 is just the latest sign that is is really just business as usual for the economic managers.

“The refusal to really reform economic policies combined with the pandemic will just mean that people will remain worse off that before the pandemic for many years to come,” Africa concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

President Rodrigo Duterte (File Photo from Talk to the Nation April 15,2021/Melo M. Acuna)

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