This is what environment secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez described on Thursday, August 4 about the Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

“The mining act must be reviewed,” she said in press conference yesterday during the Oya Mindanaw: the Mindanao Environment Summit 2016 at the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).

She said that the act is 'flawed” as it is skewed towards the mining sector, and not towards the people.

“Yes it (mining) is indeed one of the biggest foreign investments, but where do the money go? With our present mining act, talong-talong tayo,” she said.

Lopez said that the mining industry here has net revenue of P35 Billion and 82 percent or P29-billion goes to the mining company, leaving only 18 percent or P6 billion to the government.

“… and out of that how much goes to the community? Ay naku! Kunting-Konti, (very minimal),” she said.

She emphasized that mining industry is “not labor intensive” but more on the capital expenditures (capex).

Lopez added that if they will sum up all the benefits the mining industry contributed as against the value on the destruction caused to farm lands, fishery resource and health, among others, the latter will weigh more than the former.

Fr. Joel Tabora, President of AdDU, for his part said, the mining act of 1995 is treason.

“In my view, treason, because the minerals belongs to state, people (of the Philippines) but what the act (mining) does is that it allows more foreigner mining firms benefit largely on our resources, instead of the people,” he said.

“All of us, must join in demanding that this act to be repealed, replaced (with a better version),” Tabora added.

When Lopez was asked on her plans on filling in the revenues that might be lost with the banning of some mining operations, she was quick to add that “a country cannot build an economy based on suffering.”

She said that an intensified and strengthened National Greening Program will be implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“I will make the National Greening Program to upgrade the economy, it should be implemented in the Philippines especially in Mindanao,” she said adding that programs for agroforestry, reforestation, among others will be a major push for the country’s economic status in the island.

For instance, she cited the La Mesa Ecopark developed by the ABS-CBN Foundation will be a good example of an economic-driving ecotourism site.

“The ecopark is now earning P40 million annually,” she said.

Also, she mentioned about the Ugong Rock Adventure in Puerto Princesa where they invested only P260,000 for ecotourism and it is now earning some P30 million annually giving residents enough income for a living.

“This is what I want to do, you can sell beauty, and Mindanao has so much for that,” Lopez said.

Auditing of mining permits

Leo L. Jasareno, head of the mining audit team of DENR and the former Mines and Geosciences Bureau head, in a separate interview at the sidelines of the presscon said that auditing of all the 40 metallic mining companies will be completed within this month.

Of the 40 firms, 23 of which are operating in Mindanao. In September, 65 non-metallic firms are up for auditing.

“Well, depending on the violations, the DENR may suspend until violations are rectified, worst, after the due process DENR may cancel their mining contracts” he added.

Since Lopez assumed office on July 1, a total of seven mining firms have already been suspended for not complying with environmental safety standards.

These are BenguetCorp. Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Hinatuan Mining Corp., Berong Nickel Corp., and Citinickel Mines and Development Corp.

Lopez said the ongoing audit will not only based on technical but also social and environmental.

“Those who will not pass the audit will be automatically stopped, “she said.

She also said that the companies’ holding environmental certificate of compliance (ECC) will be evaluated. AJRSP

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Sec Lopez: The mining act must be reviewed Sec Lopez: The mining act must be reviewed Reviewed by Kristian S. on 04 August Rating: 5

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