August 10, 2019
By: Maria Paula Tolentino
Metro Manila – August 9, 2019 – “Though there are struggles in mind, we are determined to accomplish the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people” says Mr. Al Haj Murad Ahod Ebrahim, Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), on August 9 during a luncheon held at I’M Hotel, Makati City.
The BARMM government, though moving forward and seeking to develop its economy, Ebrahim reminds his audience that “the BARMM is first and foremost an identity, not a business.” He added “To boost economic development, we are exploring various industries, but also taking into consideration the 4 bottom lines: People, Planet, Profit and Purpose and BARMM’s 12-point agenda.”
Published by the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority, the 12-point agenda of the BARMM includes: 1) The enactment of priority bills; 2) integration of development plans; 3) establishment of appropriate bureaucracy; 4) continuity of existing government services; 5) special programs for transitioning combatants; 6) support for the on-going Marawi rehabilitation; 7) development of enabling policy environment; 8) activation of job-generating industries; 9) enhancement of security; 10) maximizing synergistic partnerships; 11) ensure environmental compliance; and 12) and exploration of the Bangsamoro economic potentials.
The Bangsamoro Identity
According to R.A. 11054, otherwise known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the original inhabitants of Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, whether of mixed or full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves, their spouses and descendants, as Bangsamoro.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is an integral, indivisible, and inseparable part of the territory of the Philippines and shall uphold the Philippine Constitution as the fundamental law of the land while owing allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. In the exercise of its right to self-governance, the BARMM is free to pursue its political, economic, social, and cultural development as provided in the Organic Law. It shall have a democratic political system and have a parliamentary form of government.
Included in the powers of the Bangsamoro Parliament are to (a) enact laws to promote, protect, and ensure the general welfare of the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and (b) be consulted on matters affecting the environment.
Mining Policy under the Bangsamoro Organic Law
According to Section 13 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Bangsamoro Government shall have the authority and jurisdiction over the exploration, development and utilization of mines and minerals in its territorial jurisdiction, taking into consideration environmental protection and ecological balance. Its government shall also have the power to grant permits, licenses, and contracts for this purpose. As regards to Small-scale Mining, Section 15 of the Organic Law states that the Bangsamoro government shall regulate an ecologically balanced, safe and healthy mining operation with the interests of the affected communities, the miners, the indigenous peoples, and the local government units, duly protected and safeguarded. All gold produced by small-scale miners in any mineral area shall be sold to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, or its representatives, that will buy the gold at prices competitive with those prevailing in the world market, regardless of volume or weight.
Section 16 further states that the Parliament shall establish policies on mining and other extractive industries in accordance with a comprehensive sustainable development plan and overall medium-term and long-term Bangsamoro Development Plan. The Bangsamoro Organic Law gives the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), its interim government, the power to honor previous mining permits (under ARMM) and grant new ones for operations in the region.
But before it exercises this power, the Bangsamoro government should first conduct an audit of mining operations to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and other laws. This mining audit will be led by BARMM Minister of Environment Abdulraof Macacua (aka Sammy Gambar), Murad’s former military chief who led the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).
According to Murad, “the BARMM Environment Minister will constitute a mining performance audit team that will look into the compliance of mining companies based on their commitments and contributions. The results of this audit will be the basis in crafting a Bangsamoro mining code.” Murad expects the audit results to be in by the end of August 2019 and set for discussion by the Bangsamoro Parliament in September 2019.
Energy Exploration in the Bangsamoro
Based on Section 10 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Bangsamoro Government and the National Government, through the Department of Energy, shall jointly exercise the power to grant rights, privileges, and concessions over the exploration, development, and utilization of uranium and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal in the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro. The use of renewable energy shall be promoted for power generation to achieve the sustainable development goals and promote low carbon energy generation policies.
The Bangsamoro Government shall adopt a competitive and transparent process for the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions in the exploration, development, and utilization of fossil fuels and uranium. Both the Department of Energy and the Bangsamoro Government shall identify and select prospective contract areas to be offered for exploration and development. Qualified Filipino citizens who are bona fide residents of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region shall be given a rating higher than other proponents during the evaluation process. The award of service contract shall be made jointly by the Department of Energy and the Bangsamoro Government.
Hosted by the Philippine Mining Club on August 9 at I’m Hotel, Makati, the BARMM Chief’s audience included envoys of countries with mining interests in the Philippines particularly outgoing European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen, New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan, and Australian Ambassador Steven J. Robinson AO. Representing the OLLI Consulting Group Inc. is the organization’s Principal and the Mining Luncheon’s Master of Ceremonies, Atty. Leo Dominguez together with consultants Stephen Araneta and Maria Paula Tolentino.
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Photos by Marcelle P. Villegas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Maria Paula Tolentino is the Chief Content Officer of SEM Scribe Publishing House, a boutique digital communications agency. She is also the digital consultant for the OLLI Consulting Group, Inc., and the Vice-President of Mining group Diwata – Women in Resource Development, Inc. For more information, she may be reached at the following: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and www.semscribepublishing.com.