Executive Order No. 79: The Filipino People Deeper into the Grave, The Foreign Monopoly Capitalists Further Into the Wellspring of Wealth

Patnubay de Guia
NDFP-Southern Tagalog Region
26 July 2012

Proven to be anti-national and anti-people, the clamor against large-scale foreign mining in the country has been growing in the past years. Aquino responds by issuing Executive Order No. 79. Entitled as  “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,” E.O. 79 appears novel and reformative but remarkably flawed and pro-capitalists.

The EO is closed to new mining applications. But it holds hundreds of those that have been approved, prior to its signing on July 6, valid and binding. The EO is closing some areas to mining. But it does not close areas already destructed by it. It identifies areas for closing. But only to accommodate the eco-tourism projects of the local bourgeoisie like the Lopez clan wrapping itself in the flag because it needs to protect the capital it has invested as well as its business interests in the islands of Palawan. The EO only allows explorations. But in practice, explorations has been convertible into actual operations twined with human rights violations by state military forces protecting the exploration interests of foreign corporations.

Already, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global rights body based in New York, has urged Aquino to stop the killings of anti-mining activists as the Philippines aims to institute reforms in the mining sector. Not that Aquino needs to be told but given his glacial pace of resolving the human rights violation in the country, E.O 79 is a slippery slope toward intense militarization especially in indigenous people’s communities where areas for mining are largely located.

Mining concessions totaling 19,000 land hectares has been given to MBMI Resources Inc. and Altamira Exploration and Resources, Inc. in Palawan. In September 2010, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) offered private armies to protect the explorations interests of these mining corporations. The Palawe├▒os are constantly under attack and face threat of displacement, loss of livelihood and health-related problems One of the politically motivated killings in Palawan is that of environmental activist Gerardo “Ka Gerry” Ortega on January 24, 2011. Until now his wife and children are still in search for justice.

As of January 31, 2011, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has granted four (4) mining exploration permits (EP) in the province of Batangas; three (3) in the province of Rizal; one (1) in Marinduque, and one (1) in Palawan. The MGB has signed five (5) Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) in Batangas; 26 in Rizal; one (1) in Quezon; six (6) in Mindoro; one (1) in Romblon; and eleven in Palawan. The EO 79 makes these permits and agreements valid and binding. None of the mining explorations in the Southern Tagalog Region will be closing anytime soon.

A tale is told about a parent who welcomes knocking strangers home. The children, frightened and powerless, are told to go silent.  The strangers proceed to "explore" the house on their own terms. It’s all right if they break glasses here and there, throw tables and flip chairs in the way, scrape off the floors and crack the walls. One or two of the children may get furious and scream. But the father is grateful that the strangers lend him weapons for pacification while they effortlessly mines the treasures found inside the house. Smug-looking, the parent convinces the children that the strangers are friends and are there to help. But the strangers are destroying the house and taking all of their possessions.  One can only imagine the horror and disbelief that the children feel! Done and satisfied, the strangers comfortably leave the place with their bags full of stolen goods. The place is left with nothing but complete destitution. As if not enough, the parents pursued the strangers. For their convenience, he has outlined a new parental order. So don’t worry about the children’s fury. Do come back and get more.

In more ways than one, the tale above reflects the mining industry in the country. Protected by EO 79, foreign corporations proceed with their explorations convertible to actual operations and off they leave with the country’s wealth. The people are left with nothing but polluted air, poisoned lands and waters, bald mountains and truckloads, not of gold, but of garbage. The people’s loss and the destruction of the environment outweigh any benefit the country obtains from mining.

By and large, the people find that the rules stipulated in the Mining Act of 1995 are intact in EO 79 and more.  Aside from closing to new mining applications and some areas to mining and only allowing explorations, E0 79 aims to uphold the primacy of national laws over local ordinance. But by preventing the local government units (LGUs) from passing ordinances to ban mining, EO 79 robs the LGUS, especially the communities directly affected by mining, a rein to hold onto.  A one-stop shop is created for convenience and full control, bargaining away the national patrimony to foreign corporations.

Aquino had declared mining among his top priority economic programs. He promised that it would bring livelihood, services, environmental protection and economic progress. He told the Filipino people that it would deliver a remarkable impact on national industrialization. Yet the people remain in poverty. The people’s welfare remains as one of his top priorities; yet, what he does at every turn is accede to the dictates and demands of foreign monopoly capitalists. These are not just character conflicts. In the three years since he assumed presidency, Aquino regime has been showing its true colors. EO 79 further highlights the anti-national and anti-people character of the present regime. It lends a pound of goodwill to foreign corporations at the expense of the people’s welfare and environment.

Indeed, E0 79 leads the people deeper into the grave while allowing 100 percent foreign exploitation of the country’s resources and wealth. The New People’s Army in the Southern Tagalog Region upholds the will of the people’s democratic government to ban large-scale foreign mining. It shall continue to promote and protect the rights and welfare of the people and their communities under attack by foreign corporations and its private armies. E0 79 could have put an end to the plundering of the people’s land and resources. But it’s more likely will be a watershed moment of allowance and tolerance to what has been proven anti-national and anti-people foreign mining in the country.

Oppose EO 79!
Junk Mining Act of 1995!
Uphold and Defend National Patrimony!