I would like to congratulate everyone for the successful outcome of this forum! Rest assured that the issues raised and policy positions of LGUs will be escalated to reach the concerned NGAs, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), and even the concerned Congressional Committees. For the DILG, the clamor of the LGUs is very clear, to respect their rightful share, with timely and well-informed amounts of fund transfer so that sustainable development planning, budgeting, and implementation are hastened.
Through the Philippines Poverty Environment Initiative Program of the DILG and UNDP, we have conducted a comprehensive study and analyzed the entire process of estimating government revenues from natural resources to actual receipt of the funds to disbursement and recording to public dissemination of relevant financial statements which resulted to the identification of gaps or areas that need to be strengthened through new policies or revision of existing laws, information systems and governance processes.
The DILG and the PPEI recognized that in order to effectuate long-term reforms in the mining industry especially on concerns with regards to local governments’ benefits and revenues derived from the extraction and development of natural resources, the National Government and the Legislature should consider amending certain provisions of the Local Government Code which was passed in 1991. Various amendments to the LGC are proposed to address the LGUs’ concerns on mining. These are our advocacies under PPEI:
1) To ensure the timely release of LGU shares from National Wealth in line with Section 12 of E.O. 79;
2) To give LGUs greater flexibility on how to utilize their shares from National Wealth;
3) To encourage LGUs to disseminate their financial information through electronic means whenever and wherever possible; and
4) To make the allocation of shares from National Wealth among two or more LGUs hosting the same mining project more equitable.
Not only on the economic returns that we should be concerned about, but moreover on the social, cultural and environmental impacts of mining. The National Government together with the LGUs, CSOs and private sector should ensure that economic returns and benefits of mining are maximized for the benefit of the poor and reinvested to rehabilitate the environment.
As a long term social protection esp. for the women, children and IPs, the DILG strongly sees the need for the inclusion in the Final Mine Rehabilitation and Development Plan (FMRDP) the determination of the final land use of the area once mining has finished and been completed. The community should not be left with a degraded environment once mining has finished.
This forum is a great start for the local government sector’s position to be heard with regards to mining, and later, on other extractive industry issues such as on energy. It is imperative that LGUs and community stakeholders are properly consulted because the extraction of natural resources happens on local governments’ jurisdiction. We hope that this initiative would be a regular activity where all issues raised and positions rendered would later be translated into actions.
To fulfill our aim, we will be facing a tough road ahead. There are many barriers to overcome but the fruits of addressing this challenge will certainly redound in long-term benefits both for poor Filipinos and the environment.
Maraming salamat po!