Review of environment laws under way, says DENR
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is conducting a comprehensive review of the laws and policies governing the mining sector. This is part of its thrust to promote responsible mining that has the potential to bring in significant revenues for the government.
Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said in a briefing on Wednesday that the agency was conducting a department-wide review of policies and legal frameworks, but that the mining sector, particularly small-scale mining, was one of its priority areas.
She noted that current laws and policies governing the mining sector were “somewhat dated” with some regulations issued back in the 1990s.
The DENR also wants to ensure that the social and physical advances in science and technology as well as the Philippines’ “current context developmentally” are taken into account.
“Among them possibly is the small-scale mining dimension, which as we know is really in need of a closer look because of the need for social protection of our small-scale miners as well as an improvement in their overall livelihood and well-being,” she said.
Such efforts are being undertaken in line with the DENR’s push for responsible mining which, according to Loyzaga, covers not just the extraction of minerals but also the implications on the integrity of the ecosystem and the livelihood and well-being of the communities.
“Where we need to build our capacity is in the observation, in the monitoring, in the analyzing and our entire process of permitting and watching over the results and activities of the permitting process in the mining sector,” she added.
The government has identified the mining sector as one of the potential primary contributors to the country’s economic growth and development and the DENR previously expressed its intention to bolster the sector’s potential.
Aside from addressing illegal mining, the DENR plans to undertake geological survey and mapping to populate the geoscientific and mineral information database, as well as rehabilitate the remaining 11 abandoned mines to address lingering concerns over the controversial sector.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau had identified approximately 9 million hectares as potential mineral-rich areas, but less than 3 percent of these are covered by mining contracts.