Protecting its mining industry PH pursues EITI

Rene Pastor

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The move by Aquino’s government is motivated by good governance and transparency, and political calculation

EITI COMPLIANCE. The Aquino government is working double time to pass the application for EITI candidacy in April. Screenshot from PH-EITI presentation

It seemed innocuous enough and something the government of President Benigno Aquino should be doing all along.

The Philippine government is working hard to gain membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The target apparently is to win EITI approval at its next global conference in Sydney, Australia, on May 23 and 24.

It seeks to establish a global standard where those involved in extractive industries — mainly mining – report how much the company pays and a government acknowledges how much its receives. The people of a country can then review the figures.

“The EITI is a coalition of governments, companies, civil society groups, investors and international organizations,” its website says.

The move by Aquino’s government is motivated by two things.

One is good governance and transparency, something that Aquino has made a bedrock of in his administration. The other of course is political calculation.

By joining EITI, the Philippine government will help blunt the efforts of activists opposed to any mining whatsoever in the country.

Effectively, the Philippines can claim that it is responsible in ensuring that extractive industries benefit Filipinos and that it is going to all the trouble of making sure that any revenues can be tracked by independent groups.

EITI of course will not stop corruption in mining.

Come to think of it, international treaties signed by governments are often notable for how many times they are violated.

“We hope that this will also lead to improvements to tax collection processes, as well as enhance the thrust and stability in the extractive industries,” Elisea Gozun, the presidential assistant on climate change, said at a briefing.

It seems ironic that the first country in the region to join EITI is the former East Timor. Indonesia and the Philippines are now trying to play catch-up. Since the Philippine government has opted to actively support mining, it seems prudent it will join EITI even if there is some skepticism about its motives for doing so. –

Note: Rene Pastor is with Philippine Commodities Digest, a weekly publication of New Jersey-based A & V Media that provides a comprehensive roundup of developments and trends in the country’s key farming and mining sectors. He is a freelance journalist who worked with the news agency Reuters for nearly 23 years. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Affairs from the New School in New York city and received a bachelor of arts in Communications from the Ateneo de Manila University. Rene is also a lecturer at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey.

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