The Catholic Church’s development and advocacy arm is opposing a proposed bill that seeks to reduce the royalty fee imposed on mining companies.
Caritas Philippines president, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, said the measure “is a clear betrayal of the people, especially the communities affected by mining”.
The royalty shares, according to him, are supposed to be provided by mining companies to these communities as reparation for the damage they cause to their natural ecosystems.
“The reduction of the royalty rate will only benefit the mining companies and their shareholders while leaving the communities to bear the brunt of the environmental and social costs of mining,” Bagaforo said.
From 5 percent, Housing Bill No. 8937 seeks to lower the royalty on gross output for large-scale metallic mining operations within mineral reservations to 3 percent.
The bishop also warned such a move will make it more challenging to hold mining companies accountable.
“With the lower royalty rate, mining companies are incentivized to comply less with environmental and social regulations. This will put the welfare of the communities and the ecosystems at risk,” he said.
Regardless of the royalty rate, the national Caritas reiterated their opposition to mining in the country, which they said has a long history of environmental destruction and human rights abuses.
The church agency believes that there are better ways to develop the country “that do not involve destroying our natural resources and harming our people.”
“We urge the legislators to defend the people and the environment, and to reject all proposals to open up new mines or expand existing mines,” Bagaforo said.