Review of mines shut down by ex-DENR chief starts
The interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has finally started its long-planned review of the first batch of 26 mine sites that former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered suspended or shuttered over a year ago.
The MICC—cochaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—responded to President Duterte’s directive in February last year with a resolution calling for a multistakeholders’ review of the DENR’s orders.
Beginning with on-site visits this month, the review of the initial 26 mine sites will be done in two phases within a six-month time frame as requested by the five technical review teams (TRTs) composed of 25 experts tasked to implement the review, according to a statement released by the DOF on Tuesday.
The first three months will focus on points covering legal, technical and environmental concerns, while the second phase, also to be completed within a three-month period, will tackle the social and economic aspects, said Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin.
“When we were looking at this, we set the period for review for three months. But when the teams were formed, the concern, especially on the economic study, is that they will need the inputs from the technical, the legal and the environment,” Agabin said in the MICC meeting on March 7. Agabin represents the DOF in the MICC.
“If you will notice, the methodology for the social and economic aspects is that they will do a household survey. They were quite strict, the teams that we got. In fact, they didn’t want to continue on if there will not be an honest-to-goodness scientific survey done within the affected communities. That’s how meticulous they are,” Agabin added.
The second part of the review will also include a “social cost benefit analysis” and an “evaluation of the changes in the ecosystem” as well as a “more in-detail look into the equity aspects” of the mining operations, according to Marian de los Angeles, overall coordinator of the TRTs.
Also, the review is expected to draw up recommendations on “mining-related methodologies and procedures to maximize the benefits of mining and avoid damages; the list of inefficiencies, violations and damages done by mining companies;” and the necessary penalties to be imposed for violations committed, said National Economic and Development Authority Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla.
Moreover, measures to mitigate the recurrence of such inefficiencies, violations and damages, and to better mining operations keeping in mind the need to protect the environment and the rights of “resource-dependent communities” must be determined by the TRTs, she added. —MARK VILLALUNA
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