THE country’s largest labor group is now pushing for new legislation which will cut red tape for the government registration of small scale miners.
In a statement on Wednesday, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) President Raymond C. Mendoza backed the pronouncement of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. that he wants to update Republic Act (RA) No. 7076 or the Act Creating A People’s Small-Scale Mining Program to ensure small-scale miners enjoy “social assistance and labor protection.”
Marcos said currently most of the small-scale mining activities in the country are unregistered, which leaves its workers vulnerable to precarious working conditions.
Mendoza, who is also a deputy speaker at the House of Representatives, said a possible amendment to RA 7076 will make it easier for interested parties to register in the Minahang Bayan program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Minahang Bayan or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Area is an initiative of DENR, which aims to regulate small-scale mining through registration.
Based on its October 2022 data, DENR reported that there are already 100 Minahang Bayan sites nationwide.
Mendoza said this could rise if DENR futher streamlines its processing for applicants. “This can be principally achieved by streamlining the Minahang Bayan petitioning, licensing, and registration processes by promoting localized access, simplifying documentary requirements, ensuring affordable fees, ensuring reasonable application time, establishing one-stop-shops, and leveraging technology,” Mendoza said.
TUCP said there are an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 small-scale miners nationwide, which could benefit from the “legitimization and formalization” of their operations.