July 11, 2018

Philippines: Escaping the Resource Curse

Building Trust Through Transparency

For decades, mining has been a divisive issue in the Philippines. Numerous large-scale environmental disasters, dangerous working conditions, and a reputation for corruption have done little to endear the industry to everyday Filipinos. A movement responding to the lack of accountability has been met with violence. Yet, there are those inside government and the mining industry working for change.

In 2013, as a part of its Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments, the Philippines joined the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). Under EITI, the industry has become more transparent: from publishing information on government revenues, to tracking how these funds are spent.

Almost all of the big players are now on board, with reporting on revenues from 89 percent of mineral production in the country (FY 2015-16). PH-EITI now coordinates agencies to fast-track the transfer of revenue from the national to the local level, and has introduced a tool to monitor royalty payments due to indigenous communities.

The Philippines remains one of the world’s most dangerous places to be an environmental activist, however things are slowly changing. The government wants all operations, including small players, to be EITI-compliant and has taken complementary measures to improve mining practices, including announcing an industry-wide audit, and doubling the excise tax on mining from two to four percent, aligning it with global standards and boosting much-needed revenue.