Mining EO to ‘make or break’ industry

Advocates and critics of mining clash at a forum

PACKED. The mining forum, which features passionate speakers from opposite side of the issue, attracts over 400 people

MANILA, Philippines – Amid government efforts  to reform mining operations in the Philippines, an industry stakeholder said that, done without proper understanding and consultation, these reforms could “make or break” the industry.

At a mining forum on Friday, March 2, almost 600 stakeholders gathered in a Makati hotel ballroom that could accommodate 400 to debate how to support or limit the mining industry moving forward. 

In his opening remarks, Ed Lacson of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), which helped organize the forum, stressed the importance of taking all sides into the crafting of a new executive order (EO) on mining.

“The policy can make or break the industry,” he said, making reference to the controversial drafts of the EO that seeks to limit incentives to mining investors and increase taxes paid to the government.  

“This issue is like cheese. No matter how thinly-sized, issues always have both sides,” Lacson said.

PCCI previously issued a statement against the EO, citing lack of consultation process in the initial efforts to craft a new policy.

Meantime, a representative of the government overseeing the industry stressed how responsible mining can help generate wealth.

“The Philippines possess a strong mineral resource base that justice mining as a development option – for as long as it is responsible mining where benefits far outweigh the cots,” Leo Jasareno of state agency Mining and Geosciences Board said in his opening remarks.

“Left on the ground, these minerals cannot generate wealth,” he added.

But ABS-CBN Foundation head Regina Lopez said the “poorest areas in the Philippines are the mining areas.”

“What wealth are we talking about?” she said.

She said Filipinos can earn more when the same mining areas are developed into tourism areas.

Each speaker was given 15 minutes only to present their positions that support or oppose mining.

(Follow the #WhyMining on Twitter or watch livestreaming here.) – Rappler.com

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