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Philippines to rejoin Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

DAVID HELLMANN-UNSPLASH

THE PHILIPPINES has expressed its intention to rejoin the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) after the previous administration withdrew earlier this year, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.

“We submitted our letter of intent last Monday. We hope that its implementation can complement and can strengthen the regulation of the sector in the Philippines,” Finance Undersecretary Cielo D. Magno said at a webinar organized by Eco-Business Philippines on Thursday.

“Finance Secretary (Benjamin E.) Diokno relayed to the international board of EITI that we are rejoining, and therefore we are a member again… We are going to implement the standards set by the international board, and we are again going to subject the country to the regular validation done by the international board,” she added.

The EITI promotes transparency for the mining, oil and gas industries by publicizing how much revenue they generate for their host governments. The DoF heads the body that oversees the implementation of the EITI program.

“We recognize that we actually have a pretty strong policy with respect to the extractive sector. What is needed is for it to be implemented properly, and with the framework of EITI where various stakeholders, including industry and civil society, are involved in governance aspect, we hope to be able to minimize the social and environmental costs coming from the extractive sector,” Ms. Magno said.

Last month, the DoF said that the mining industry can help drive the economic recovery and growth as metal prices boom.

“A World Bank study (points to a) significant increase in demand for critical minerals needed to transition to greener technology. As a country rich in mineral resources, we want to take advantage of that,” Ms. Magno said.

“We want to make sure that we get value for the minerals that we are extracting,” she added, citing the need to make mineral prices reflect the “environmental and social cost” involved in extracting them.

She said a proposal in Congress will allocate an estimated P20 billion from the proceeds of the new mining fiscal regime to sustainable development initiatives.

The Duterte administration withdrew from the EITI in July after the latter downgraded the Philippines’ score to “moderate” in February, claiming that the standards for the engagement of civil society were not sufficiently met.

“We find that the manner by which the EITI board undertakes its validation is unduly subjective, biased and unfair,” former Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said at the time. “The Philippines has no confidence in the ability of the EITI to undertake an impartial, transparent, and evidence-based validation process.”

The DoF also reiterated the Marcos administration’s intent to spend P453.1 billion on climate change programs next year, up from P289.7 billion this year.

“Currently, the government’s commitment is to increase the annual budget for climate change programs by at least 15% yearly,” Ms. Magno said, adding that it is reviewing the feasibility of a carbon tax and supporting a tax on single-use plastics.

“These climate change expenditures are focused on food security, water security, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, climate smart industries and services, sustainable energy, and building knowledge and capacity,” she added. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles

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