The country’s premier think-tank has urged the government to review its mining policies after its study showed that the current legal framework of the mining sector had too many inconsistencies that gave way to corrupt practices and continued to hinder the industry’s growth.
This developed as both branches of Congress are in the process of crafting a new fiscal regime for the industry in accordance with President Duterte’s directive.
In a policy note released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) titled “Challenges in the Philippine mining industry,” researcher Eligia D. Clemente uncovered several issues on the implementation of mining laws, including the “circumvention of the requirements of permits, delays in the declaration of indigenous peoples (IPs) claims, and institutional issues within the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).”
According to the study, the bureaucratic process for applying permits, which included the participation of several agencies, has resulted in overlapping functions, which were “filled in by enterprising government employees through illegal means.”
In terms of protecting ancestral domain and giving IP communities their share of profits in mining operations, Clemente said the faulty coordination between national and local ordinances has “resulted in contradicting decisions on approvals” of mining permits.
LGUs who did not want mining activities in their area also have the tendency to delay the signing of permits to prevent other bodies to oppose their decision, she added.
Even NCIP, which has a huge hole to fill on the issue, lacked informed personnel who could facilitate the use of funds intended for the IPs. Part of its mandate is to deliver the royalties to heads of IP communities and assist the latter in planning for the responsible use of the funds.
“Despite the huge amount of money allotted to communities, they have not yet elevated their status from their original position as among the poorest in the communities,” the study said.
Clemente, who’s also a coordinator of the University of the Philippines Diliman Mining Engineering program, recommended a review of these policies and procedures, which bleeds the government dry in terms of foregone revenues and investments.
“It would be good to discuss such issues and come up with a common implementing guideline for all offices to eliminate personal tendencies to relax rules,” she said.
“Sufficient human resource should also be supplied to NCIP offices for them to cary out their tasks timely and efficiently. Issuances from NCIP can also be harmonized such that a single protocol can be followed and duplication of requirements can be minimized,” she added.