Agusan Del Sur Rep. Eddiebong Plaza on Wednesday pushed Congress to pass the measure that seeks to amend the 30-year old People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 (PSSMA), saying it needs to be fine-tuned to address the current needs of the national and local government.
Noting the obsolete provisions of the law, Plaza said it is imperative that Congress amend Republic Act 7076 in order to “capture the sentiments and aspirations” of small-scale miners, the national government’s desires and plans for the sector and make the local government units (LGUs) active partners in managing the small-scale mining operations on the ground.
Plaza noted the current law is no longer realistic and needs updating in order to realize the intended benefits that the law covers.
“Since its inception 30 years ago, RA 7076’s intended goal of encouraging growth and productivity is nowhere to be seen. Ordinary people engaged in small scale mining in communities hosting ‘minahan ng bayan’ remained to be mired in poverty, burdened by social and health problems, and the environment suffer from unregulated, unscrupulous practices,” Plaza told the House Committee on Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga Jr.
Plaza had filed House Bill No. 5784 which primarily seeks to modernize and empower the small-scale mining industry and make it an engine of growth and development in the countryside.
The bill also aims to promote small-scale mining in the uplands and in the ancestral domains of indigenous peoples (IPs) where poverty is intense.
The House lawmaker also lamented how gold production of the small-scale mining sector fell drastically especially after the government issued Executive Order 79 in 2012 which bans mining activities in several areas in the country, affecting the government’s gold reserves.
“It declined in 2011, less than P35-billion in 2012 and to barely a billion pesos in 2018. No gold is going to government reserve, no revenue for the LGUs (local government units) and the national government,” he lamented.
“The people and the communities, environment and the government are equally suffering under the present set up provided by the current RA 7076,” he further said.
He also said LGUs with small-scale mining activities are losing income in the past eight years since the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2015-03 which imposed strict rules and requirements in the implementation of the law.
“Most especially my province is affected and I think that there is still a lot of provinces that are affected with regards to small scale mining, na hindi na makatotohanan yung batas (the law is no longer realistic) on the ground,” he said. “So I think we need to do something about this in order for the national government to get the necessary income that the national government and LGUs need,” he stressed.