The surging investments in the extractive industries (EI) that began in the 1980s, as well as the commodity boom between 2002 and 2011, have increased the significance of the sector in national economic development. This paper takes the Philippines as a case study and provides a detailed analysis of two key aspects of mining governance: first, the political challenges in realizing a more positive role for EI in social development, particularly in promoting children’s rights and children’s welfare, and second, the political economy dynamics that might underpin the creation of a welfare regime able to sustain social investments for children. The findings of this paper suggest that in the Philippine context, where the expansion of the EI sector is contested in the public domain, the link between mining governance and the promotion and protection of children’s rights is not necessarily straightforward. Yet equally, the resurgence of high prices and the continuing interest of foreign investment in EI means that there is now a political opportunity for relevant stakeholders to make a compelling argument for the need to ring-fence mineral rents for social investments in children and young people. To do so would require a strong pro-welfare policy coalition committed to channelling mineral wealth towards social investment and willing to craft a political consensus through negotiations between local and national elites, donor agencies, civil society organizations and affected local communities. Importantly, the state must also wrestle with multinational capital, large Filipino-owned companies and small-scale miners in the process of negotiating reforms. Ultimately, the state must seize this opportunity to take a more active role in laying the foundations of a mining governance framework, bargain with key stakeholders to reach agreement on EI-funded welfare and set out rights-based approaches to development.
This paper builds on a selective qualitative data collection from a variety of printed sources, including donor agency reports, government documents, NGO reports, newspaper archives, and interviews available online. It further builds on a short fieldwork period in Manila, in late August 2013, where key sources from civil society, academia, the extractive industry, the donor community and stakeholders were interviewed.
At the time of writing, Jewellord T. Nem Singh was Lecturer in Development, and Jean B. Grugel was Professor of International Development at the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. Pascale Hatcher was Associate Professor at the College of International Relations, Ritsumeikan University, Japan.