Palace assures mining firms due process to be observed before closure, suspension is enforced
Malacanang said on Wednesday due process will be observed before implementing closure or suspension orders by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on mining projects in the country.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the earlier order of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez to shut down operations of 23 mining sites and suspension of five others were discussed in the Cabinet meeting, which President Rodrigo Duterte presided over on Tuesday.
"One of the agenda items discussed in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was the evaluation of the environment and natural resources sector in the context of social justice," he said.
"The president and his Cabinet collectively decided to observe due process with regard to the mining issue," Abella added.
With the due process, Abella said this means companies affected by mining closures for violations of environmental laws and regulations "will be given the opportunity to respond or dispute with the audit, or make the necessary remedies to ensure compliance with government standards."
Contrary to what she mentioned last week that orders of closure and suspension were served to the affected mining firms, Lopez said her directives would only be released on Thursday.
She said she will release to the mining industry the committee recommendations submitted to her by the technical committee, which she also earlier refused to disclose.
“When the presscon was done, the evaluations have been completed days before. What happened was an omnibus directive. It was prepared for all mining companies and our lawyers have decided it should be issued to individual mining companies. That’s why there’s been a delay,” Lopez said.
She maintains the mining audit conducted by the DENR.
Lopez defended the audit and said she did it to protect the present and future generations as enshrined in the Mining Law and the Philippine Constitution.
The Department of Finance, in a separate statement, said the DENR order could cost the affected local government units in 10 provinces over P650 million yearly in foregone revenues.
The DOF's Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) said that losses such as taxes, fees and other charges directly collected by the local governments from mining firms are estimated at P441.92 million, while the LGUs’ share from mining taxes collected by the national government account for another P211.72 million.
Lopez downplayed the possible negative effect of the closure and suspension of different metallic mining firms.
She has asked that she be given a year and a half to a maximum of two years to prove that a "green economy" can create more jobs than mining could ever create.
Abella said the DOF will have further discussions with the DENR in their capacities as concerned government agencies of the Mining Industry Coordinating Counci. Celerina Monte/DMS