Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative confab held in Ipil PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 12:48

By ALMA L. TINGCANG

 

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay – A two-day conference on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was held here recently to introduce the concept of accountability and transparency of the mining industry in Zamboanga Peninsula region.

Civil society groups, national government agencies, non-government organizations, religious groups, mining business sector, indigenous peoples (IP) organizations and local government units from all over the region gathered at Casa Mea to attend the said confab.

Mr. Roldan R. Gonzales, executive director of Gitib, Inc. and multi-stakeholder group representative of the Philippine EITI said the activity aimed to have an in-depth discussion to achieve a unified understanding of the principles and standards of the EITI.

The EITI is a global standard of transparency that requires the extractive industries such as oil, gas, and mining to publish what they pay to the government and the government to publish what they collect from these industries.

He said the issue on the relevance of accountability and transparency in the extractive industries is undeniably needed based upon the mining activities in the provinces comprising the ZamPen region.

Based on a study, Gonzales presented that Zamboanga Peninsula is endowed with rich mineral deposits,  both metallic and non-metallic. It is also home to the largest group of indigenous people in the country, the Subanens.

He added that these abundant mineral resources attracted the entry of mining companies that resulted to numerous applications and approved mining tenements both in metallic and non-metallic minerals.

In Zamboanga Sibugay alone, the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) – a government-owned and controlled corporation is undertaking a large-scale coal mining in the area. The company operates in the municipalities of Malangas, Diplahan and Imelda, with the largest semi-mechanized underground coal mine in the country.

“EITI, which will be managed by multi-stakeholders (government, industry players and civil society), adheres to the principle that there must be sound management of natural resources,” said Gonzales. “It operates on the premise that the citizens own these resources, and therefore have the right to know how these resources are managed,” he added.

The three pillars of EITI are: all revenues from extractive industries should be regularly published and independently verified; publication of data should be managed and overseen by a multi-stakeholder group (MSG) composed of the government, the industries, and civil society; and data should be effectively shared with the country’s citizens and stimulate an informed debate about how natural resources are governed.

The conference is a collaborative effort of Gitib, Inc., Bantay Kita, the British Embassy, local government of Zamboanga Sibugay, and the Social Action Ministry of the Diocese of Ipil.