The Commission on Human Rights on Saturday called for compliance with Human Rights-Based Approaches “as part of sustainable development efforts in the utilization of natural resources.”
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia issued the statement in light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 130 lifting the moratorium on new mineral agreements in the Philippines.
“Such includes ensuring that the Philippine government guarantees the absolute participation of the Filipino people in making decisions on the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources, such as minerals,” de Guia said.
“It is then equally important that relevant laws and regulations are observed and are faithfully implemented based on their spirit and letters—including the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act; the Local Government Code; and on Environmental Impact Assessment, even the crafting of new ones if needed—to adequately protect and promote the standard of living, and all human rights, of communities affected by mining operations,” she added.
De Guia also stressed the generation of revenues from mining through taxation and other means should eventually be translated into programmes, which should also be developed and implemented with the meaningful participation of the said communities.
“We equally expect the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to put in place additional rules and processes to enhance environmental safeguards in the course of mining activities as mandated in the said EO lifting the mining moratorium,” she said.
“ In addition, the CHR expects that its partner agencies would already fully operationalise the standards of monitoring human rights compliance in the mining industry,” de Guia, a lawyer, added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted a moratorium on new mineral agreements, allowing the government to enter into new mineral agreements, provided that these would comply with the country’s mining laws, Malacanang said.
According to EO 130, “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 mining industry can support various government projects such as the Build, Build, Build Program by providing raw materials for the construction and development of other countries; and the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program, by increasing employment opportunities in remote rural areas where there are mining activities thereby stimulating countryside development,” the EO said.
The moratorium had been imposed while the government worked on legislation to boost the state’s share of mining revenues in one of the world’s top producers of nickel, copper, and gold.