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It can be said that the mining industry in the Philippines can be both a

blessing and a curse. Being blessed with vast mineral resources, these
arguably would somewhat help alleviate some of our economic problems.
But then with that economic boost come a number of numerous
consequences to our environment and to the ones who have built their lives
on these affected areas. It is not hard to see why mining would have adverse
effects on the environment, but due to the efforts of the government to
attract foreign investments, it has brought mining and indigenous people
into conflict with each other.

In order to understand more the events surrounding the conflicts in the


mining industry, it is important to see first the background behind the growth
of the said industry. Rovillos, Ramo and Corpuz (2005) examined the mining
industry in the Philippines by tracing the role of the World Bank (and other
financial institutions) in the making of the Philippine Mining Act which further
encourages the foreign companies to invest in the mining industry here.
They also evaluated the impact of the said act in the indigenous people in
general living in the affected areas. It was stressed how the World Bank
created in the Philippines an impetus for mining legislation reform and yet in
doing so, the WB neither consulted indigenous people nor researched the
impacts on them. The impact of the Mining Act, as a result, was felt
immediately by the indigenous people and conflicts and protests over
ownership, access to land and environmental degradation arose. In light of
the protests, the government started conducting regional consultations on its
National Minerals Policy which aims to discuss the environmental and social
implications of mining. However, due to its still economic growth-driven
framework, the indigenous people find this policy as sketchy, which just
intensifies the growing distrust to the government.

In contrast to the Mining Act, there was also actually an act (IPRA) that
codifies the rights of the indigenous, which causes a conflict in laws. But
given the pressure of the private foreign companies backed b y the interest
of the economic-driven state, IPRA was unable to stop these companies from
advancing. Holden, Nadeau and Jacobson (2011) talked about how mining
activities result to dispossession of indigenous peoples in many ways. Mining
is an activity with a substantial potential for environmental degradation. One
of the problems associated with mining is the amount of waste it generates.
But just as mining can have substantial adverse impacts upon the
biophysical environment it also contains substantial potential for adverse
impacts upon the social environment. In the Philippines, alcoholism, drug
abuse, gambling and suchlike have increased in indigenous communities
adjacent to mining projects (Carreon 2009)

The overlap of mining and indigenous peoples is a serious threat to indigenous


cultures and there is a danger of indigenous cultures being exterminated in ethnocide
wherein the people will continue to exist as individuals but their cultures will die and
their unique ethnic traditions will disappear thus rendering them indistinguishable
from the rest of the lowland (Guia-Padilla 2005). Mining may also dispossess
indigenous people through their physical displacement as a result of the mining. Once
displaced by mining, these indigenous peoples end up as poor urban migrants where
they live in poor conditions lacking adequate shelter, jobs or basic services
(Stavenhagen 2003). Mining also dispossesses indigenous people by replacing their
subsistence agro-forestry with cash-based economic activities. These subsistence
activities are replaced by market economy over which indigenous people lack control.
The legal conflicts between mining and indigenous people show how struggles over
whether or not mining should occur have replaced traditional struggles over dividing
up the wealth created by mining

Wetzimaier (2012) then examined the cultural impacts that mining give to
indigenous people in affected areas. This study showed that how culture of these
people are very much entwined with the environment that they live in and
degradation of their place due to mining would thereby cause drastic effects in their
way of life. The concept of land as home and carrier of cultural identity erodes in the
face of the socio-economic difficulties in rural areas. The term land is strongly
associated with home that refers to a traditional territorial claim and an identity as a
community with socio-cultural values closely linked to the environment. (Binodngan
Ancestral Domains, 2011)

People suffer from the environmental destruction that occurs even before the
start of the actual mining operation. The companys exploration and preparation
activities threaten livelihoods as well as the indigenous peoples cultural heritage. It
then forces people to look for alternatives sources of livelihood which, somehow, can
change power relations within communities. Communities are then divided between
their responsibility to protect their ancestral heritage and prospects of economic
development.
Thus, Wetzimaier concluded and stressed that mining is a source of conflict
that affects indigenous ancestral domains, the protection of cultural heritage and of
natural resources. Traditional concepts and values of indigenous communities tend to
erode when socio-economic considerations brought by mining activities come into
play.

Balanay, Yorobe, Reyes, Maglente, Panduyos (2014) then tried to examine the
socio-economic impacts of mining on the locals in the affected area using Propensity
Score Matching (PSM). The study showed some good impacts of mining for the locals
economic-wise as it contributes to human capital buildup, which is necessary for
economic nation building. Perception of the locals showed, however, that mining has
not made much significant improvement in the employment of locals. The results
signify that there is yet a need to work for the improvement of the quality of life as
perceived by the household in the mining areas. Results indicate a feeling of
discontent among the people on mining in the mining areas which may spring from
something other than income. Thus, this study by Balanay et al. showed that, with
regards to quality of life, indigenous people concerned are more distressed in issues
regarding pollution and insurgency rather than on income.

But then why are these environmental degradations happening in the first place
if there are already measures enforced by the government to keep in line the mining
projects? We then go back to the root cause of the mess that is mining, which is in
governance and regulation of these measures themselves. Ingelson and Bravante
(2009) examined the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and related
legislation, administrative and judicial decisions. They also tackled genuine
development in the context of the EIA. Genuine development means promoting
harmony among human beings and the environment which can be attained when the
government balances economic, social and environmental objectives. Several flaws in
the system were discussed such as its failure to respect ecological integrity,
biodiversity and to facilitate an efficient use of natural capital. There is also a lack of
environmental stewardship on the part of the government. Although acknowledging
the potential use of the EIA as an effective tool to promote genuine development, the
authors opined that the current EIA system only makes it appear that mines are
subject to scrutiny when in reality it merely approves, which does not, in any way,
encourage genuine development. With this kind of loose enforcement, it is not
surprising how degradation is still rampant. They also emphasized that the EIA should
not be about rejecting development at all; rather it should be about making sure that
development proceeds with full knowledge of the environmental consequences.

All in all, this current problem with the mining industry can be entailed to the
lax regulations imposed by the government. The state somewhat failed to meet its
obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of indigenous people. Large-scale
mining clearly bears the potential of disastrous effects not only in the environment,
but also on indigenous peoples ancestral domains. There is also disrespect for local
communities and their rights can lead to the escalation and radicalization of
resistance. As important as economic growth is, it must not overkill the natural
resources. Just as large areas of habitat must be set aside to protect biodiversity,
large areas must also be set aside to protect ethnodiversity (Inocencio 2005). What
we must not forget is that as much as we try to conserve nature, we must also
conserve the culture of these indigenous people in their ancestral land