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South Cotabato, Philippines

Participatory Tech in Extractives (COT0004)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: South Cotabato Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Provincial Government of South Cotabato – Provincial Environment Management Office

Support Institution(s): Provincial Treasurer’s Office, PPDO-ITU, DENR-MGB XII, DENR-EMB XII, NCIP XII PH-EITI, Bantay Kita, Bantoxics, OND HESED Foundation, JP SAC, South Cotabato Foundation Inc., SSM Association, SRMA Beverly Besmanos(Bantay Kita): fbesmanos@bantaykita.ph Atty. Karla Espinosa (PH-EITI): mklespinosa@gmail.com

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Capacity Building, E-Government, Extractive Industries, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Social Accountability Measures & Feedback Loops, Subnational, Sustainable Development Goals

IRM Review

IRM Report: South Cotabato Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Thematic Area: Open Mining Information
4. Engaging Citizen’s Participation by Developing EI-TECh (Extractive Industry-Transparency E-system & Channels)
31 August 2018 – 31 August 2020
Lead implementing agency/actor Provincial Government of South Cotabato – Provincial Environment Management Office
Commitment Description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address? Inadequate access to and misinformation regarding the mining and quarry activities equate to revenue losses, environmental degradation and social conflicts. Oftentimes, communities in nearby illegal mining and quarrying activities would presume the regularities of these operations until such time when these communities have already been directly affected by the social and environmental impacts of these practices or if the illegal quarry and mining operators have been apprehended by the authorities. In fact, the province’s annual extractive industry report shows that 3-5% of the total collection of the provincial government is generated from fines and penalties from apprehensions of illegal mining and quarrying averaging at least five (5) incidents per month.

Aside from limited manpower of the provincial government to monitor these illegal activities, citizens’ participation in monitoring and reporting illegal extractive activities in their communities is low because they either lack access and capacity to understand information on mining and quarrying activities or they just simply lack the information on how and where to lodge or channel their complaints.

Further, majority of the citizens lack appreciation on extractive industry information because figures are not translated into something they can relate to or something that has of importance to them, for instance, information on whether the quantities of production/extraction are converted into tangible incomes or benefits to the host communities. This is further aggravated by issues relative to the degradation of the environment and conflicts in the application of mining and quarrying rights.

Presently, there are more or less 40 quarry operators with regular and special permits operating in the province. Further, there are two (2) declared “Minahang Bayan” or legal Small Scale Mining areas with more or less sixty (60) active tunnels in the Municipality of T’boli. These small-scale mining areas are mostly home to Indigenous Peoples called the Tbolis. These areas are also situated inside the Mine Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) contract area of Tribal Mining Corporation (TMC), a large scale mining company. The mining and quarrying industry in the province generated about P21 Million in 2017 consisting of taxes, fees and permits, and fines and penalties. From this total collection, the host municipalities and barangays, which are dominantly IP populated for mining areas, will have a share from the tax revenues from mining and quarrying of about P19 Million.

Transparency with regards to taxes paid, land disputes, mining and Indigenous People’s rights are among the common source of conflicts and issues in the area. These issues are all forwarded to the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) with merely five (5) mandatory members, one of which is a CSO representative, discussing and trying to resolve these conflicts.
What is the commitment? The commitment would be focusing on policy development and creation of transparency e-systems and channels (EI-TECh) to further engage citizens to participate in mining governance, hence, advance inclusion especially of the minority cultural groups in the mining areas. Access to mining and quarry information will be enhanced through the online mining portal that will be developed and linked to the provincial government website, Interactive Provincial Online Database (iPOD) and social media, among others, to help promote public interaction. Stakeholder consultation will be conducted as to what data are of public interest, relevance and appeal that would need to be disclosed. CSO and general public participation in the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) or in other local special bodies of the provincial government will be expanded to include grassroots or impacted community participation. Transparency initiatives, incentives and branding (Compassionate Gold) will be institutionalized through a Provincial Mining Regulatory Board Resolution.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? Through technology- and participatory-driven online portals, standards, channels and branding, there will be increased disclosure on social, environmental, and economic information, hence, strengthen public awareness and involvement on decision-making related to the extractive industries. This will result in increased access to information and grassroots participation in mining governance particularly of Indigenous Communities where small-scale mining areas are usually located, minimised mining and quarry related disputes and conflicts, and the growth of a culture with citizens-engaged monitoring system. Consequently, all these will improve revenue collection, provide increased local economic opportunities, enhance inclusion in mining governance, and promote socio-cultural and environmental protection in the impacted areas.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? • Access to information on the extractive industries promotes transparency that leads to increased public participation and action.
• Public awareness leads to greater accountability and compliance of mining operators and concerned government agencies.
• Technology will enable easy access to information on mining and quarrying operations.
• Grassroots empowerment in monitoring of quarry and mining activities will advance increased inclusion of the minority cultural groups or Indigenous Peoples in mining governance.
Additional information The commitment will be implemented by the provincial government, in partnership with the CSOs, people’s organizations, Bantay Kita, and Bantoxics. BanToxics, with funding from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the US Department of Labor, will be providing technical and financial assistance in the online mining portal development, and in developing transparency standards, branding and incentive mechanism through its Compassionate Gold Project. Bantay Kita, on the other hand, will be providing technical and financial assistance in policy development in extractive industry governance and capacitation of identified grassroots leaders within mining and quarry impacted communities to include monitoring of standards and systems.

Further, the commitment is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals particularly on goals 1 (No Hunger), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
Milestone Activity with a Verifiable Deliverable Responsibility Source of Fund Start Date End Date
1. Update PEMO mining and quarrying reporting and monitoring forms to include relevant transparency information and integrate EITI standards in consultation with key stakeholders.
PEMO / PH-EITI
PEMO-MOOE/ PH-EITI
September, 2018

December, 2018
2. Enhance and update South Cotabato-PEMO software /database to become an Online Mining Portal in managing information on mining and quarrying operations (mining, quarrying, energy industries) and link/disclose information through the Interactive Provincial Online Database (iPOD).
PEMO/ Bantoxics/ Bantay Kita
Bantoxics with funding from ILO and US Department of Labor November 2018
March, 2020

3. Develop transparency standards and systems in gold trading and institutionalize “Compassionate Gold” branding through a Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) resolution.
Bantoxics/ PMRB PEMO-MOOE/
Bantoxics June, 2018 September, 2020
4. Conduct stakeholder outreach, dialogue and capacity-building activities for policy development/ improvement to strengthen participation and engagement of impacted grassroots sectors within the PMRB or other related local special bodies of the provincial government by developing a pool of trained community experts (Grassroots empowerment). PEMO/Bantay Kita Bantay Kita September, 2018
September, 2020

5. Institutionalize grassroots participation/engagement in quarrying and mining governance through the participation in the provincial government’s local special bodies of representatives from the pool of trained community experts from the impacted communities or by expanding the membership of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) to include trained community experts PMRB/ Bantay Kita PEMO-MOOE/ Bantay Kita January, 2019
September, 2020

Implementing Actors
Lead Implementing Office/ Agency/ Organization Provincial Government of South Cotabato – PEMO

Mr. Siegfred Flaviano: cgfred8@gmail.com
+6383 520 2220
Other Actors Involved PLGU / Government actors Provincial Treasurer’s Office, PPDO-ITU, DENR-MGB XII, DENR-EMB XII, NCIP XII, PACCO, PLO

CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups Bantay Kita, Bantoxics, PH-EITI, OND HESED Foundation, JP SAC, South Cotabato Foundation Inc., SSM Association, SRMA

Beverly Besmanos(Bantay Kita): bfbesmanos@bantaykita.ph
Atty. Karla Espinosa (PH-EITI): mklespinosa@gmail.com
Elias Salazar (Bantoxics): esalazar@bantoxics.org

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Theme 4: Open Mining Information

4. Engaging Citizen’s Participation by Developing EI-TECh (Extractive Industry Transparency E-system & Channels)

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

The commitment would be focusing on policy development and creation of transparency e-systems and channels (EI-TECh) to further engage citizens to participate in mining governance. Access to mining and quarry information will be developed and enhanced through the website, social media and print ads, among others, to help promote public interaction. Stakeholder consultation will be conducted as to what data are of public interest, relevance and appeal that would need to be disclosed. CSO and general public participation in the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) will be expanded to include grassroots or impacted community participation. Transparency initiatives, incentives and branding (Compassionate Gold) [23] will be institutionalized through a PMRB Resolution.

Milestones:

  1. Update Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) mining and quarrying reporting and monitoring forms to include relevant transparency information and integrate EITI standards in consultation with key stakeholders.
  2. Update and enhance South Cotabato-PEMO software/database in managing information on mining and quarrying operations (mining, quarrying, energy industries) and link/disclose information through the Provincial Online Database.
  3. Develop transparency standards and systems in gold trading and institutionalize “compassionate gold” branding through a Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) resolution.
  4. Conduct stakeholder outreach, dialogue and capacity-building activities for policy development/ improvement to strengthen participation and engagement of impacted grassroots sectors within the PMRB by developing a pool of trained community experts.
  5. Institutionalize grassroots participation/engagement in quarrying and mining governance by expanding the membership of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) to include representatives from the impacted communities from the pool of trained community experts.

Start Date: 31 August 2018                                                             End Date: 31 August 2020

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to increase citizen engagement in mining governance and improve access to related information through online and offline communication. To do so, this commitment will update the Provincial Environment Management Office’s (PEMO) monitoring forms and databases to facilitate greater transparency, introduce new transparency standards around gold trading, conduct outreach to strengthen civic participation in policy development, and institutionalize such engagement by expanding Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) membership. [24]

People have deep-seated and often varying views about mining activities in South Cotabato. [25] These views can be attributed to the public either not having access to the right information about mining activities, or not being capable of making critical decisions based on this information. This has caused tension and conflicts [26] within and between communities and even LGUs affected by mining.

Primarily due to pre-existing resource and capacity limitations, the provincial government is unable to adequately inform, monitor, and guide the public on appropriate mining and quarrying procedures in their areas. This is of particular concern when needing the public to report illegal operations. Tangentially, the PMRB, is also limited in its capacity to fulfill its governance role. [27] According to a PEMO representative, this commitment would address these concerns by enabling the PEMO to lobby for additional resources. [28]

This commitment is verifiable. Although certain milestones would benefit from greater clarity in terms of the precise scope of what they set out to do, the proposed activities are measurable. For instance, while a milestone proposes to conduct stakeholder outreach activities to strengthen civic participation, it falls short of specifying the exact nature or extent of such activity.

The commitment is relevant to the OGP values of access to information, civic participation, and technology for transparency. The commitment will increase access to information through, for example, enhancing and updating the provincial online database with mining information, and by integrating EITI transparency standards in reporting on mining activities. It will also facilitate civic participation by increasing and institutionalizing wider community representation in the governance of mining activities.

This commitment has a moderate potential impact on increasing citizen engagement in mining governance and improving access to related information. The use of technology and participatory-driven systems, standards, and branding to increase public awareness and participation is expected to minimize disputes and conflict, improve revenue collection and sharing between provincial and subprovincial units, and promote socio-cultural and environmental protection. Increased PMRB membership, including grassroot participation, will enhance an engagement platform where discussions and concerns can be tackled collaboratively and constructively. Collectively, these initiatives are a major step forward.

However, as the South Cotabato provincial government, and the PEMO in particular, has already put in place processes to facilitate citizen engagement in mining governance, this commitment does not stand to transform “business as usual.” For instance, the PEMO regularly conducts visits and dialogues with community stakeholders, even though their capacity to ensure effective results is constrained by limited resources. [29] The commitment also does not outline any mechanism that stands to facilitate public accountability, including a lack of clarity on the manner in, or extent to, which feedback arising from improved citizen participation opportunities will influence or translate into policy decisions.

Next Steps

  • Co-create long-term solutions that will enable mining-dependent communities to be integrated in mainstream development programs of the province. For example, envisioning workshops can help locals, especially indigenous communities, identify divergent pathways to shift their livelihoods to more sustainable industries.
  • Work with partners from other action plan commitments to effectively engage private sector stakeholders in the mining industry. For example, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines could invite a member company to talk about sustainable industry practices or shifting business models in Europe and initiate a call-to-action among participants.
  • Utilize OGP as a platform for constructive dialogue among industry stakeholders that includes indigenous communities, large-scale mining companies, and/or the Chamber of Mines. [30]
[23] Siegfred Flaviano (Provincial Environment Management Officer/PMRB Secretary), interview by IRM researcher, 1 Apr. 2019; Beverly Besmanos (Bantay Kita), Skype interview by IRM researcher, 9 Apr. 2019.
[24] The PMRB is a special local nongovernmental and multisectoral body tasked to resolve conflicts regarding transparency of taxes paid, land disputes, mining, and Indigenous People’s rights.
[25] Aquiles Z. Zonio, “Mining main issue in South Cotabato polls” (Inquirer.net, 6 Oct. 2012), https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/284166/mining-main-issue-in-south-cotabato-polls.
[26] Besmannos, interview.
[27] Flaviano, interview.
[28] Id.
[29] Id.
[30] Besmanos, interview.

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