I welcome all the participants and guests of this Knowledge Sharing on Philippines Poverty Environment Initiative and Steering Committee Meeting for Year 2 Project of PPEI.
As stakeholders, we are holding and initiating this activity to share our knowledge, exchange ideas and establish cooperation among concerned government agencies, local government units and the private sector. The challenge is how to reverse persistent poverty in the country through equitable benefit sharing from sustainable management of our environment and natural resources.
The PPEI started only on March 15 last year, with me signing the Standard Letter Agreement with UNDP Philippines Country Director Renaud Meyer. The Government of the Philippines through the DILG as the implementing partner and with the DENR, DOF, DBM, NAPC, and NEDA as co-partners is implementing PPEI. Our goal is to turn revenues from natural resources as capital for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.
What we did last year was focused on reviewing the existing procedures in computing and collecting ENR revenues, budget allocation and spending for ENR concerns, the release of the share of LGUs on national wealth and the local development planning for ENR and climate change.
This year, we recommended reforms on policy environment of NG-LGUs sharing of national wealth, the mainstreaming of poverty-environment linkages to local development plans, programs, and budget system. We lobbied for General Appropriations Act budget allocations for programs and projects on sustainable ENR management to reduce poverty; and continuously advocate transparency in extractives as well as ensure environment protection and sustainability.
Starting next year until 2015, we will upscale the results of PPEI Phase 1 and ensure that ENR revenues are equitably shared by the communities and re-invested to preserve the social and natural environment while enforcing regulatory measures to prevent environmental degradation.
The DILG’s position is we can use our natural resources to alleviate poverty while addressing the root causes of environmental degradation. ENR-related activities especially extractive industries like mining, oil and gas, geothermal and hydropower plants should operate in harmony with the national and local communities. The poor, the indigenous peoples and other community stakeholders should be the beneficiaries and not the victims of extractive activities.
The PDP 2011-2016 identifed the mining sector as one of the 10 high-growth potential industries. The Philippines has an estimated 9-million hectares of mineral reserves amounting to USD840 billion or P47.08 trillion.
Given these figures, makikita natin na mayaman pala ang ating bansa. Pero kung titingnan natin bakit kaya hanggang ngayon ay naghihirap pa rin ang Pilipinas samantalang kumikita pala tayo sa ating natural at mineral resources.
Iyan siguro ang dapat nating suriin. Papaanong ang ilang lugar at komunidad - ang naiiwan na lamang ay ang pagkawasak ng kapaligaran at walang naging positibong pagunlad mula sa kinita nito. Kung paanong walang malinaw na paglalahad ng tunay estadong pinansyal ng mga industriyang ito dahil sa korupsyon din sa pribadong sektor kakuntsaba marahil ang ibang taga-gobyerno.
We strongly advocate the need for transparency in the major financial flow that these extractive industries generate. Factual revenues based on up-to-date records should be equitably shared by the communities.
Several governance issues hinder the distribution of benefits even as the LGU gets 40 percent share from the revenues generated from ENR extraction as provided for in the Local Government Code.
Hence, early this month on July 6, 2012, President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 79 or the “Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines to Ensure Environmental Protection and Responsible Mining in the Utilization of Mineral Resources. Our national policy is firmly anchored on the principle of sustainable development. The government knows that we need to find win-win strategies to achieve economic growth. Our belief is we can have sustainable development and at the same time respect both the people’s needs and our natural resources.
The PPEI responds to the several sections of EO 79, namely, the full enforcement of environmental standards in mining, measures to improve small-scale mining activities, consistency of local ordinances with national laws, creating a one stop shop for all mining applications and procedures, creation of a centralized database for the mining industry, among others.
Being the frontliners at the local level, local government units are expected to apply this policy in their respective areas. However, LGUs have to be sensitive to the concerns of their respective constituencies. This is where issues on environmental safety, sustainable development, livelihood, and in some cases, the ancestral domain of IPs, among other issues should be taken into consideration.
Some say that development often favors only the wealthy and the rich. Thus, the main job of our local chief executives is really to protect the weak and the marginalized.
At our level in the DILG, mechanisms are being set in place to bridge the intent of national policy with the nuances of implementation at the local level. We have policies on these issues while not undermining the interests of the LGUs and poor communities. We have to balance the multi-sectoral interests and sift through diverse perspectives as we deal with NGOs, community groups, tribal councils, religious and civic organizations and the business sector.
I strongly believe the key to the success of our endeavors is the sharing of our skills and resources and to see ourselves as part of all sectors working in sync to advance progress and development for the common good.
The DILG will help ensure that a vibrant community is reflected on the way national and local governments, together with the private and business sector, CSOs, NGOs and the community equally strive for sustainable development and environment protection.
Rest assured of the DILG’s commitment to support collaborative undertakings under the PPEI. You can count on us to work closely with you for the achievement of our common goal and for the sake of the poor and the marginalized sector of our society.
Maraming salamat at magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.