With a new President at the helm, it is a year of great expectations – both from groups opposed to or in favor of large-scale mining in the country. The main players in the mining industry are wary of policy changes but the resistance against mining has seemed on the rise. An alternative mining bill that repeals the existing mining law looms in Congress. Indigenous women and various women’s groups have been active in the campaign to repeal the Mining Act. As these events are now in motion, this paper makes a gender analysis of Republic Act 7942 or The Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The prospect of locating gender within the national mining policy framework in the Philippines is unlikely – and unfortunately so. In the development context, mining plays a significant role towards national industrialization which should contribute to the upliftment of lives for many Filipinos. However, sustainable development without a gender focus has marginalized or excluded women from its benefits, despite their roles in reproduction that subsidize mining development. Without a gender focus, development policies render women invisible in terms of decision-making, socio-economic activities, and power relationships that figure prominently into mining processes. This paper approaches the analysis of Republic Act 7942 using the Social Relations Framework to uncover how gender, class, and race issues are addressed and are impacted by the national mining policy.
The Philippine Mining Act along with its Implementing Rules and Regulations aimed the revival of an “ailing mining industry.” Prior to the passage of RA 7942, several mining laws have been in place since the Spanish colonial period. The most significant of these mining laws include the Royal Decree of 1867, the Organic Act of 1902, the Mining Law of 1905, Commonwealth Act No. 137, Presidential Decree No.463 and Executive Order 279. The Mining Act was a response to the investment liberalization agenda of the IMF-World Bank’s structural adjustment programs (SAPs). The liberalization of the mining industry was the last of three phases required by the international loan agencies: 1) trade liberalization (1980-83); 2) debt repayment (1983-92), and 3) rapid deregulation, privatization and investment liberalization (1992-present) (CASA Philippines, 2001, p. 2). Among the most significant portions of the law include 1) relaxation of restrictions on foreign ownership and other provisions to create a more deregulated hence “attractive” environment for mining foreign direct investment (FDI); 2) the requirement of free and prior informed consent (FPIC) among ancestral lands of cultural communities; and 3) the assignment of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) as the lead agency to control and supervise mineral exploitation. RA 7942 was enacted as a mining code that will address the failing revenue of the mining industry and is ultimately geared toward exports.