Mining firms should not resort to international arbitration in forcing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to revoke its decision to suspend 28 mines and cancel 75 mineral-production sharing agreements, think tank IBON Foundation said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, IBON urged the administration to stand firm with the DENR in its order to shut down mines allegedly abusing the environment, even with the threat of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) to escalate the closure order to international arbitration.
Claiming the move is just “another mechanism of investment liberalization” that will dent government regulation, IBON believes the international arbitration is an instrument that is expected to favor foreign investments over public interest.
“The World Bank International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, for example, is known for siding with transnational corporations and strictly enforcing
decisions that include expropriation of assets.”
According to a study of the think tank, foreign companies have a history of suing governments through international arbitration when their businesses are compromised. It gave as an example the case of mining firm Pacific Rim, which sued the government of El Salvador for $301 million for denying the permit for the El Dorado mine due to environmental issues.
IBON told the administration to be wary of the COMP’s next steps regarding the matter. It also supported the DENR for closing down mines suspected of massively draining mineral resources and destroying ecosystem. The COMP recently warned that mining firms affected by the DENR’s closure orders can file arbitration cases should the government choose not to honor their mining contracts.