[Philippines] Middle ground on mining? – by Cielito F. Habito (Philippine Daily Inquirer – April 4, 2017)


I have always said that on the matter of mining, there is no room for extreme positions. Productive public discussion on mining requires that it be done rationally and dispassionately, freed from emotions and especially from impressions and perceptions that are not grounded on facts.

Amid the large volume of arguments and assertions coming from both sides of the issue, with both even citing biblical references for support, there is a need to distill hard facts from mere claims, untruths and half-truths.

I know it’s hard not to be emotional for those who have directly witnessed and felt the ill effects certain mining activities have had on communities, lives and livelihoods. It is also hard for industry advocates not to get emotional when stonewalled by closed minds simply unwilling to listen to reason and evidence-based arguments.

Even so, it’s clear to me that emotions need to be set aside in the effort to find the appropriate resolution to the raging debate. It doesn’t help to label people and groups simplistically as “promining” or “antimining”; “proponents” and “critics” may be more accurate and less divisive labels.

I’ve seen how industry proponents unnecessarily alienated certain potentially effective allies in the past, after recklessly dismissing them as “antimining” for pointing out problems caused by the industry, even when done in a constructive light.

Between proponents and critics, there are actually certain points agreed to, or at least not disputed, by either side. First, I don’t see anyone disputing that mining is a necessary industry, as numerous products essential to daily living trace their basic raw material to mining.

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