Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday asked mining companies to foster more transparency and openness in the industry to address the public’s negative perception on mining.
Poe, speaking before the Mining Philippines Conference and Exhibition at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City, said “people’s perception of mining is colored through the prism of post-colonialism rhetoric, environmental disasters and a lack of transparency in the mining industry.”
“I know that the Philippine mining industry has been diligently conducting disaster relief operations across the country. Yet, the image of the once-pristine and now dead river in Marinduque remains fresh in people’s minds,” Poe said.
Poe said the Freedom of Information Bill and the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative would promote greater transparency in the mining sector.
“Once the FOI bill is enacted into law, the government will be obligated to mandatorily disclose all mining contracts to the general public,” she said.
Poe said aside from disclosing the mining contracts, the government should also urge the mining industry to publish the taxes they paid.
“I think it is to your interest to inform the people how much exactly you are returning to the people in terms of taxes, jobs generated, livelihood, corporate social responsibility projects,” she said.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines expressed full support for Poe’s thrust towards transparency in the mining industry. “The industry views with optimism the many moves to change the policy regime. We trust that the House of Representatives and the Senate will put the best interests of nation-building and economic development in their hearts,” said COMP president Benjamin Romualdez.
The Philippines was accepted last year as a candidate country to join the EITI, a globally developed standard that ensures more transparency and better governance of a country’s oil and mining resources.
“Our government needs the transparency report to help it compute the right formula for what constitutes as fair and equitable share for everyone involved. I understand that as of this month, 78 percent or 40 out of 51 mining firms have already issued a waiver allowing the BIR to access their corporate tax information,” Poe said.