Miners say they follow environmental laws after Duterte warning
In this July 14, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech before the San Beda Law Alumni Association during the Testimonial Dinner Reception at the Kalayaan Hall of Club Filipino in San Juan City. Toto Lozano/PPD
MANILA, Philippines — The local mining industry maintained that it strictly adheres to environmental regulations issued by the government after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a fresh warning to the sector.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said the industry has always cooperated with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the agency which regulates the minerals sector, in terms of environmental regulations especially on the safety and welfare of its host communities.
"We do not condone wrong-doing within the industry. Erring mines must be prosecuted and made accountable to the fullest extent of the law," COMP Legal and Policy Vice President Ronald Recidoro said.
Duterte on Wednesday warned anew mining companies on the damage they cause to communities and the environment and asked the “rich” mining companies to pay the people who have been affected.
The chamber maintained that the industry shares Duterte’s deep concern for the environment and the communities affected by mining operations.
"We have a clear responsibility to manage the impact on the environment, guarantee the full and complete rehabilitation of mined-out areas, and ensure that communities get their fair share in the benefits from mining," Recidoro said.
He added that strict regulation and monitoring by the MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau will be the key to ensuring that the environment is protected.
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The chamber said its members are already implementing environmental protection and enhancement measures in their project sites, including tree planting activities.
On the other hand, non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina urged Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to listen and heed the president’s position on irresponsible mining.
"Cimatu should pay attention to the recent remarks of Duterte, expressing his frustration against mining companies who wreaked havoc on the environment," ATM National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera said.
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The group also slammed Cimatu for suspending the implementation of former environment chief Gina Lopez’s order on the issuance of environmental compliance certificate and returning the authority to regional offices to issue permits and licenses for speedy processing of project applications.
The department has also started the review of the appeals of mining companies ordered closed and suspended as a result of the mining audit started by Lopez.
"Cimatu has the prerogative to decide on this but we hope that he will not give in to the pressure of the mining industry and implement policies that will give them freedom to destroy our country," Garganera said.