Summary: In Manila, protesters have been calling for an end to 20 years of liberalized mining law. Some 300 indigenous peoples and environmental activists assembled to what they claim brought “environmental destruction, pollution, and plunder.” These people had experience first hand the effects of this law. The Philippine Mining Act was passed in 1995 by then president Fidel V. Ramos to open the country to large scale foreign mining companies. The law has remained in effect since then, surviving three administrations and 20 years. Local farmers and village residents have been ousted by these foreign companies to make way for large scale mining operations. They also gathered to protest in outlying areas as part of a larger group: the “Kalupunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas” (Kamp for short). Kamp reveals just how much the Mining Act has promoted “legal land grabbing” and the “extensive destruction of livelihood and homes.” Foreign mining companies have also been given a free pass concerning pollution and environmental destruction.
Response: In return, the people of the Philippines received only one tenth of the profits of these massive corporations. On top of that, the government only charges two percent of the income for tax purposes. To assist their cause and make removing unwanted nuisances from the land as painless as possible, the mining companies often bring in military force. There have been 66 deaths at the hands of this force, all of them protesters who got in the way. The government offers no lawful protection of these people, they seem to be focused on making a few dollars rather than protecting the rights and lives of the citizens of their country. The environmental cost is enormous, there are no kind of restrictions that the mining companies abide by. They can dig, dump, and release all sorts of waste wherever they please. Perhaps at one point this law was made to expand the economy of the Philippines, but foreigners have taken advantage of it, destroying land and lives. New legislation must be passed to put a stop to these terrible things.