PH withdraws from global transparency initiative on mining, fuel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 22) — The Philippines has exited from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) over what it calls a “subjective, biased and unfair” quality assurance assessment process of the country’s compliance with requirements.

“The Philippines has no confidence in the ability of the EITI to undertake an impartial, transparent, and evidence-based Validation process,” said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III in a letter to EITI on June 20.

The Department of Finance heads the Philippine EITI (PH-EITI), a multi-stakeholder body which oversees the country’s implementation of the global transparency initiative’s standard.

Countries that are part of the EITI commit to disclose information along the extractive industry chain - which includes how rights to extraction of oil, gas, and minerals are awarded, how revenues reach the government, and how these benefit the public.

EITI also provides data which could aid in identifying and closing channels for corruption not only for these extractive industries but the renewables sector as well.

Dominguez stated that his agency has “repeatedly sought” details of alleged civic space issues to allow the Philippine government to address them - which he says the EITI hasn’t done.

“We refuse to be taken hostage by unverified allegations from foreigners and people who have no mandate from the electorate,” said the DOF chief.

The Philippines has been implementing the EITI since 2013 and was recognized by the initiative in 2016. The DOF noted that the country was declared the first among over 50 countries worldwide to fulfill satisfactory progress in meeting EITI requirements in 2017.

Sought for comment, EITI Board member and PH-EITI founding member Cielo Magno called the country’s withdrawal “disappointing” given its initial fine performance.

“One of the core principles of EITI implementation is the protection of civic space. This ensures accountability. There were questions about the state of civic space in the Philippines given the red tagging and violence against environmental defenders,” Magno, who represents civil society in the EITI Board, told CNN Philippines.

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“I don’t think human rights protection is an imposition. It is something that we all should champion and protect. Unfortunately, the current government does not want to take any initiative to protect and strengthen civic space in natural resource governance,” she said.

The University of the Philippines associate economics professor also referred to the nation’s exit from EITI as “unfortunate,” especially with the expected rise in demand for critical minerals in the transition to cleaner energy.

“Massive extraction of minerals combined with bad governance in the sector usually lead to the so called ‘resource curse.’ That is what EITI is trying to prevent. Without EITI, there is less opportunity for the various sectors to work together and address the governance issues of the Philippines,” Magno said.

Still, Dominguez assured the country can still ensure transparency in the extractives sector given it has the process, systems, and manpower to do so.

“The government will continue to champion better resource and revenue management, and ensure that resource utilization remains open, accountable, and responsive to the needs and aspirations of Filipinos,” he said.