MANILA, Philippines – Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim encouraged mining companies to consider investing in mining operations in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Speaking at a luncheon in Makati organized by the Philippine Mining Club on Friday, August 9, Murad also emphasized that the Bangsamoro government will only approve mining operations that respect the people and the ecological integrity of the new southern region.
"I invite you to explore opportunities on mining to bolster the economic development of the Bangsamoro," he told mining executives and leaders of mining groups.
"I hope that we do this with the lens of the 4 bottomlines that I have outlined. Profit, yes, but please include also the people, the planet, and the purpose for all this which is change for the good," Murad continued.
Also in the audience were European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen, New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan, and Australian Ambassador Steve Robinson – envoys of countries with mining interests in the Philippines.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim government of the Bangsamoro, is honoring mining contracts entered into by the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said Murad.
Mining audit, mining code
The Bangsamoro Organic Law gives the BTA the power to grant mining permits for operations in the region.
But before it exercises this power, the Bangsamoro government would first conduct an audit of mining operations in the region to ensure compliance to environmental regulations and other laws.
The audit is to be led by BARMM Minister of Environment Abdulraof Macacua.
"In order for the administration to measure the impact of mining industry in the lives of our people, the BARMM Minister of Environment and Natural Resources constituted the mining performance audit team that will look into the compliance of these mining companies to their commitments, both in environmental and social contributions," said Murad.
He told the mining executives that the mining audit shouldn't be seen as an effort to "find holes" in the mining industry but to "provide an avenue for a better, pro-environment, pro-people and responsible mining in the BARMM."
Murad called the mining code the "responsible mining law."
"This mining code shall address robust development, not at the expense of the environment," said the Chief Minister.
Murad expects the audit results to be in by August and to be set for discussion by the Bangsamoro Parliament in September.
The audit results would be among the considerations in crafting a Bangsamoro mining code, also to be led by Macacua.
Macacua had been Murad's military chief, leading the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). He is also known by the name Sammy Gambar. (READ: Who's who in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority) – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.