Gov’t assures miners of fair audit
With the appointment of a new environment secretary, the head of the Duterte administration’s economic team yesterday assured concerned companies that, as mandated by law, they would be given due process as the government undertakes audit of mining firms.
At the 2017 Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) National Conference, Dominguez admitted “there were moments when the governance of the extractive sector proved weak,” resulting in calamities “involving poorly regulated mines.”
“But the solution is not to arbitrarily ban extractive industries, whatever contractual obligations the government has with investors,” Dominguez said.
“The solution is to improve governance so that we get the best of both worlds: ensuring the sustainability of our environment on one hand and creating wealth for our people from our natural endowments on the other,” he added.
Dominguez said the Duterte administration would be firm but fair while also ensuring good and strong governance in order to attract more investments in the extractive industries and ensure sustainable forestry and mining.
“(The Duterte administration) is committed to bring forth strong, but not arbitrary, governance. It will abide by global best practices in ensuring sustainable development. All these become possible because of transparency in our processes,” he said.
“Never again should suspensions be meted out on the basis of unseen audits. Never again should honest industries be subjected to levies without legal basis,” he said.
Dominguez later told reporters that he welcomed the appointment of new Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu. “He has a long service record with the government and I am optimistic he will use his vast experience and wisdom and know-how to do a good job in his new post.”
Dominguez said that under Cimatu’s watch, the ongoing three-month audit of the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), which they co-chair, would proceed.
The MICC’s Resolution No. 6 issued in February called for the establishment of a multi-stakeholder review of former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez’s orders to shut down or suspend 28 mines in 10 provinces, as mandated under Executive Order No. 79.
Affected firms had complained that Lopez’s orders were issued without due process, although she had claimed that the agency had informed the companies of the audits.—BEN O. DE VERA
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