MGB asked to name violators of environmental rules
Details of cases involving mining companies that are allegedly frequently violating rules on environmental should be made public to help bring them to a resolution, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).
COMP was reacting to a Reuters report that quoted Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo L. Jasareno as saying that half of 44 metal miners “frequently violate environmental rules.”
When reached for comment, COMP executive vice president Nelia C. Halcon told the Inquirer she could not talk about this unless details were given.
“I don’t want to sound negative with MGB, but the 22 mines the director was talking about should be listed down, violations should be specified as well as their severity, frequency and what MGB did [about their violations],” Halcon said.
“Were the mines ordered closed?” she said. “We are talking about efficiency in regulating and in doing their [MGB’s] job.”
As far as COMP members—the country’s biggest mine operators—were concerned, Halcon said they were following environmental protection measures.
“A number of them have been given awards by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA),” she said.
The COMP has reiterated its support for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in addressing concerns related to the mining industry.
Duterte over the weekend warned big mining companies to stop destroying the environment or else local investors would take over their concessions.
“Working hand in hand with the new administration will be easy because we know what our responsibilities are and we conduct our business in a transparent manner,” Halcon said.
“We pay our taxes promptly and we are part of the Philippine Extractive Transparency Initiative that has reported a 99-percent compliance by participating members in tax payments to government in 2013 as reconciled by an independent validator,” she added.
In a statement, the environmentalist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) lauded Duterte’s pronouncements to punish destructive big miners.
“We encourage him to expand his scope to cover not only the worst in Mindanao, but also across Luzon and Visayas as well,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
“There are so much violations and destruction brought about by corporate mining all over the country yet the Aquino administration had been very lax in penalizing these corporations and prosecuting their erring officials,” Bautista said.
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