The Mining EO 79 fiasco authored by Noynoy’s ghost writers

by Bernie Lopez
The EO 79 Fiasco
Eastwind Journals

(Editor’s note: Eastwinds Journal emailed this to me . I am reposting it in full)

I suppose it is alright for Noynoy to be surrounded by experts if he can’t make up his own mind, but if he is surrounded by pseudo-experts, then we are in big trouble. The country is being run by a bunch of guys with no vision nor sensitivity to fellow Filipinos. They are the blind leading the blind.

There are only two things in their minds – tax revenues and politics. They have a keen sense of the political situation. They are creative in legal maneuvers and in devising EOs to fulfill their self-serving goals. But that is all they know. Their obsession is to increase money flowing into government coffers by extracting what they can from the corporate world, even if they kill a million Filipinos in the process.

The sad thing is they do not even know they would be killing a lot of Filipinos, in spite of media screaming it at their ears. And don’t tell me they don’t read. They do, but they see what they want to see. They live in a never-never world of blind self-serving power. They have become anti-Filipino and will kneel in front of foreigners who promise to give them ten crumbs instead of the present two.

Noynoy postponed the signing of the monumental EO 79, authored by his ghost writers, almost half a dozen times in just close to a year. Why? He did not know better. He did not have conviction. He was scared of the two opposing forces ganging up on him. The whole thing was just too complex for him. He wanted an EO that would please everyone. He never heard of Herbert Bayard who said, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure – try to please everybody.”

The most glaring ‘pa-pogi’ (please everyone) provision of EO 79 to appease the losers, namely, the environmentalists, was to declare 78 ‘no-go zones’, many of which have been previously declared. Existing mines who keep on spilling tailings can continue doing so. In fact, EO 79 protects them by excluding newcomers, new competitors in a new mining moratorium. To include tourism sites in the no-go zones has very little teeth in terms of running after existing environmental criminals.

When finally, Noynoy realized Bayard was right, and he had to make a decision or lose face, he frantically called for his ‘experts’, who said through EO 79 – the goal is to maximize tax revenues in mining no matter what. So they forgot about the consequences and listened to the greedy multinationals who promised them heaven. For example, Xstrata-SMI in their Tampakan project said they would extract a dizzying $8 billion in gold and copper. They forgot to say that that is in a 25 year period, and when you remove all the expenses, the Filipinos will get a measly Php25 million a year (yes, that is Php not US$), a drop in the bucket. (read XSTRATA’s mining money myths). And so the obsession of the ‘experts’ was to increase revenue based on an illusion of growth. In local jargon, it is called ‘na-uto’ (gypped).

The ‘experts’ forgot to listen to the other side, the environmentalists, who warned of dire consequences. For example, Xstrata-SMI will build a 1.35 billion-metric-ton tailings dam atop a mountain to sit there forever, until an earthquake or storm comes breaks it. Then it will flow down the valley, tailings seven times the 200 million metric tons Placer-Dome Marcopper spilled into the Boac River in Marinduque. The Tampakan dam has the potential to destroy the lives of more than 2 million agrarian people, to say the least (read KILLER DAM part 1 and KILLER DAM part 2).

Todate, there is no fish in the Boac River in spite of the millions of dollars of rehab money. The damage is irreversible. Even if all the $8 billion went to Filipinos, it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions lost in agricultural productivity for the succeeding generations. Is this what Noynoy and his ‘experts’ want, short term gain in exchange for a hundred-fold long term loss, a fistful of dollars now versus hunger for our children forever? Tampakan is at the core of Central Mindanao’s bread basket, nursing a vast complex watershed draining into six rivers in four provinces.

By the way, the Tampakan project is 10,000 hectares, bigger than all existing gold-copper mines combined, a total of 8,000 plus hectares. Tampakan is the single biggest blunder in Philippine mining history, if Noynoy succeeds to suppress South Cotabato’s open pit ban through EO 79 and if the Supreme Court allows him to. EO 79 will use the DILG as the tool to whip defiant local governments into submission, and to challenge the constitutionality of the Local Government Code.

If the 40 defiant governors file a class action suit against Noynoy, it will make the Corona affair look like a soap box affair. This time, it is Noynoy who will be roasted. I wonder if the case is impeachable, considering it is a ‘plunder’ of the Philippine agrarian economy.

EO 79 is an arrogant defiance of the Constitution, contradicting many other laws including the Philippine Mining Act itself. How a puny executive order intends to stand tall above promulgated laws is pure arrogance. I have a feeling Noynoy’s ‘experts’ are not lawyers. They must be miners, pseudo-environmentalists, or plain greenhorn appointees groping.

Should we blame Noynoy for being weak, or should we blame his experts for being pseudo-experts? I guess we blame both, right? Should we judge them for being anti-Filipino? Why not, if they have been blind to our needs and think only of theirs. Noynoy’s lack of conviction will destroy the nation faster than GMA or Marcos tried to do so (without knowing it, of course). And so the governors are saying, ‘See you in court.’ We have another historic judicial event coming.

Mining Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012

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