No DENR order yet on fine, says Philex Mining execBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines – Philex Mining Corporation has not yet received any formal document from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordering them to pay a fine because of a leakage in their mining facility in Benguet.
Philex Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs Michael Toledo said in an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990 AM Thursday that they were surprised when the news broke out that they were being ordered to pay a fine when the DENR has not yet issued any notice to them.
“Up to now, we have not yet received any formal notification or any document stating that we need to pay a fine,” Toledo said.
Toledo said that they were not given due process because it has now come out in the media. “There should be a notice first and hearing [so we can have] a chance to answer [the charges].”
DENR secretary Ramon Paje said Tuesday that there was a leakage in the tailings pond of Philiex’s mining facility in Pacdal, Tuba, Benguet. The facility has suspended operations since August 2, Paje said.
Philex was being ordered to pay at least P325 million as fine, with the figure likely to double after further assessment, Paje said.
“We are quite certain that the amount of penalty is now more than double. We are still computing the penalty but I can say that it is much higher than the P325 million already issued based on the first (leakage) incident. With the recent figure that we have, it could easily double or triple,” Paje said Tuesday.
Toledo said that they would face the penalty as long as they were given due process.
“If we have a responsibility to pay, we will not turn our back on it. We will do what is needed, if there is any obligation that we should face as prescribed in law,” Toledo said. “We only ask that there be due process, which means we should be given notice and hearing.”
Toledo explained that what happened at the mine was a force majeure brought about by too much rain in the area.
“It was an unfortunate incident. Its what we call force majeure. Philex personnel did not commit any fault. There was no negligence. What happened was there was too much rain brought by storms Gener and Ferdie,” Toledo said.
The rain caused the tailings pond to breach which caused the leakage into Balog River, he said. Personnel immediately conducted an inspection and later stopped operations and plugged the breach, he added.
Toledo further said that the “sediments” that leaked from the pond poses no threat to people and animals because they were non-toxic and biodegradable.
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