Press Release
March 3, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored the necessity of finding holistic solutions to issues that surround the Philippine mining sector, following the mining conference held recently.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, noted that according to a recent study from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the country stands to gain more economic benefit from mining by focusing on value-addition, particularly in terms of downstream processing and manufacturing activities.

"However, the report also shows that the sector is faced with issues well beyond questions of returns ton investment," said Angara. "We can't limit ourselves to just looking at how much monetary gain can be made. Further studies must take into consideration regarding the social and environmental impacts of mining, and do so, in a meaningful way."

Earlier, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) with the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association Inc. (PMEA) expressed concerns about a pending Executive Order (EO) on key reforms in the mining sector.

In reply, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda assured that the EO will be "workable" for all the stakeholders concerned.

Recently, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said that Malacañang has deferred the issuance of any new mining policy, in light of further consultations with stakeholders.

"Mines have made countries like Canada, Australia and South Africa prosperous, but have also impoverished many countries in South America and Africa," said Angara, speaking to attendees at the recent Presentation of Innovation Cluster Master Plans.

"So there is really social and cultural animosity to these--and that's perhaps a big part of the problem in our being unable open our mines to create jobs and employment," added the veteran lawmaker, who is also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (COMSTE). "In other words, while we're going to need a lot of experts in mining, metallurgy, chemistry and environmental science, we're also going to need as many social scientists as well."

He noted that COMSTE has been pushing for the roll-out of innovation clusters--public-private partnerships (PPPs) among government, the academe and industry to conduct R&D for technology solutions to the country's most pressing issues.

Around P70 million has been appropriated under the 2012 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) for the establishment of an innovation cluster in Responsible Mining Technologies.

During the presentation, Angara suggested that the master plan for the said innovation cluster include more studies in the sociocultural and environmental effects of mining.

He said, "A very important dimension of this initiative is its cultural impact. All the more should the different stakeholders be involved--from government agencies to researchers in our SUC's, from the heads of mining companies to the leaders of affected communities."

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