In 1995, Republic Act No. 7492 was signed into law. Otherwise known as the Mining Act of 1995, this law allowed large-scale mining companies to exploit the mineral resources of the country, as well as giving 100% land ownership to foreign corporations despite explicit provisions in the Philippine constitution barring foreigners from full ownership of properties in the country.
Because the Philippines is one of the most “mineralized” countries in the world, mining companies scrambled to acquire permits to mine in the country. The government obliged by approving hundreds of mining concessions and agreements, resulting in environmental destruction of a scale never before seen in the Philippines. Irresponsible mining, as shown in this picture of a mining site in Carrascal, Surigao del Sur, has led to deforestation, destruction of watersheds, massive poisoning of water systems and loss of biodiversity in the area. This loss of forest cover as well as large-scale mining activities have contributed greatly to the increase in global temperatures.
In addition, mining companies in tandem with suspected State security forces as well as paramilitary groups have been time and again accused of violating human rights, especially of indigenous peoples, in whose lands most of the mining concessions can be found. Many Philippine politicians also have ties to mining companies, making protection of human rights and the environment a very difficult endeavor to achieve.
(Photo by Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies)