Philippine, UK Gov’ts, NGO join to boost mining transparency

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The Philippine and British Governments, along with non-governmental organization Bantay Kita, are embarking on a partnership that will push the Philippine agenda on strengthening transparency and accountability in extractive industries.

The collaboration will help the Philippine Government fulfill its initiative as a candidate country to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) by working together with Bantay Kita, a civil society representative in the PH-EITI multi-stakeholder group (MSG), with support from the British Government.

Among the project’s aims is to develop the first Philippine EITI Report, which is required of each candidate country to demonstrate that it fully complies with the globally developed standards that promote revenue transparency at the local level. It will also push for legislation institutionalizing EITI in the Philippines within the 16th Congress. The project will also mobilize civil society, industry players and local government to work on the implementation of EITI both at the national and sub-national level.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on June 14 between the Philippine Government and Bantay Kita, which formalises the agreement between the two parties to carry out activities that will reinforce the country’s work plan to increase accountability and transparency in sectors such as mining and oil and gas. To this end, Bantay Kita has undertaken a separate agreement with the British Embassy that will provide funding for these activities through the British Government’s Prosperity Programme.

President Benigno Aquino III recently announced its commitment to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative through Executive Order (EO) No. 79 on Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector.  The Philippines was accepted as an EITI candidate country at the EITI’s global meeting in Sydney on 22 May.

Secretary Elisea ‘Bebet’ Gozon, Presidential Adviser on Climate Change, said, “We thank the British Government for this invaluable support which will go a long way in institutionalizing and facilitating the EITI implementation in the Philippines. This funding will also support the activities that will be undertaken in the sub-national implementation of EITI and in the capacity building of the different stakeholders which is  needed so that we can  effectively implement EITI in the country. This is all in line with our President’s  “Daang Matuwid” commitment to our people to promote good governance and fight corruption.”

According to British Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires Trevor Lewis, the funding signifies the British Government’s continuing support for the transparency and anti-corruption program of the Aquino administration.

“Improving transparency in the Extractive Industries is one of the UK’s priorities for our Presidency of the G8 this year and it will be a subject of debate at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, next week.  We welcome the Philippines’ candidacy to EITI, which demonstrates President Aquino’s strong commitment to transparency and matches one of our G8 priorities. Our Prime Minister David Cameron explained recently that the purpose of EITI is to remove the “veil of secrecy” which surrounds the extractive industries, build confidence and reduce corruption. The Philippines has a wealth of natural resources that, if managed properly, can boost prosperity in the Philippines. This project will help contribute to this goal and we’re very happy to play our part in supporting the Philippines on this,” he said.