The Ateneo School of Govt position in 2013

Around 2013, the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) then headed by former DENR USec. Tony la Vina produced a 17-pages long paper.


It is a Philippine-centric paper, no comparative data or studies how mining (responsible or irresponsible) is done in other countries. Among the data shown is this.


ASoG’s conclusions and position are spelled out in pages 15-16:

The Ateneo School of Government supports the position that the government impose a blanket moratorium that includes the suspension of processing of submitted mining applications, and not be limited to the cleansing ofdormant or defective applications. The fundamental uncertainties and gaps raised above call for the government to take pause and re-evaluate its mining policy. The current suspension is not effective in fixing fundamental problems, but will only serve to replace the actors. The same mining areas will be open for application once the unqualified or defective applications have been removed. If we do not know proper valuation, we cannot do rational cost-benefit analysis. If we cannot assess risks, we cannot make informed decisions acceptable to stakeholders.

The School is mindful that a moratorium can have adverse effects, especially on jobs and local economic activities in areas where mining activities are already starting– exploration, consultations, etc. – even though mining applications are still being processed. For this reason, a clear action plan and firm timeline is needed to accomplish the reforms for an improved governance framework for responsible mining….

The Ateneo School of Government’s position is that the country could wait for better conditions and negotiate better terms on the basis of better information. The consequences of erroneous decisions are so huge and irreversible that it is better to take a longer view today. The global economic outlook for the mining sector favors prudence and patience because demand for minerals will continue well into the future; thus there is no real opportunity cost in deferring decisions on utilization of our mineral resources.

This is not to say that we should not consider mining at all in the future. We can learn from existing mining operations to improve governance and work towards responsible mining. We recognize that the mining industry has improved a lot over the past decades in adopting new technologies, in considering the environmental, economic, social, and cultural impacts of mining operations. However, in our country, mining still has had to demonstrate what “responsible” mining is. And there is skepticism to overcome because, unfortunately for the industry, mining has a poor record of performance on the issue in the past 50 years. The action plan we propose is only the first step towards a responsible and sustainable governance environment for mining. We should put in place safeguards and governance framework to capture more of the values of our minerals for ourselves. The action plan we propose is only the first step towards a responsible and sustainable governance environment for mining.

My short comment to this ASoG paper: trying hard to be diplomatic in its anti-mining stand but it’s there — Blanket moratorium now, allow in the future maybe, but no assurance as we might reiterate our anti-mining stand again. There are many international mining data for comparison but they did not take this route. Watermelon approach — green outside, red inside.

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