The Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC) has blamed the national government for causing the country to incur a supposed “ecological deficit” of P680 billion amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The Duterte government’s relentless pursuit of mining and other destructive activities touted as ‘economic recovery’ will cost us a minimum P680-billion ecological deficit. Worse, there was zero green spending in the national government’s economic stimulus packages,” CEC Executive Director Lia Mai Torres said during her keynote discussion in an Earth Day Webcast Forum held Thursday, April 22.
Torres described the Palace’s recent executive order lifitng the mining agreement moratorium as “one of the biggest blows to the efforts to preserve the country’s natural resources.”
“It’s very ironic that the President still agreed to lift the moratorium, considering that mining is one of the causes of massive flooding damages from typhoons ‘Rolly’ and ‘Ulysses’,” she added.
Based on reports, the estimated damages to agriculture and infrastructure caused by the two typhoons last year amounted to P41 billion.
Torres noted that the mining industry only generates mining revenues equivalent to just 8 to 10 percent of total mineral production value. This means that the government always loses money when it comes to mining deals.
With government pronouncements that the influx of 100 new mining projects would generate P21 billion worth of revenue, it is estimated that this will cost around P210 billion worth of minerals that will be shipped offshore instead of circulated in the domestic economy, she said.
Torres also noted experts’ claim of an annual biodiversity protection budget gap of P19 billion, with the 2020 budget allocating only P2 billion to fund protected areas.
She said that the P19 billion allocated to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) last year could have instead been funneled to the state’s biodiversity protection efforts.
The Philippines was declared the second deadliest country in the world for land and environmental defenders last year by international investigative organization, Global Witness.
The CEC, together with its co-organizers of the forum Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), 350.org Pilipinas, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, and IBON Foundation, also challenged the Duterte government to adopt the Planetary Emergency Initiative–a 10-point action plan to mobilize COVID-19 economic stimulus for green recovery and just transition.