A SOLON from Mindanao has expressed support for Malacañang’s order to stop the imposition of a P2-million trust fund for every hectare of land disturbed by mining operations.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is right in his order saying that mining companies have pending appeals.
“The suspension is not an opposition to Secretary Gina’s proposed additional mine fund. The DENR Secretary has to understand that this is all part of due process,” Barbers said.
Medialdea recently asked Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to stop requiring suspended mining companies to put up an additional trust fund of P2 million per hectare before they could be allowed to export their stockpiles.
The trust fund is different from the existing rehabilitation trust fund that is required of mining firms under Article 71 of the Republic Act 7942 and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2010-10.
Barbers said mining companies appealed to the Office of the President, therefore, it is only imperative that they be given immediate relief, until the President decides on the petitions.
The solon also defended Medialdea because as an Executive Secretary he has jurisdiction over appeals filed with the Office of the President.
“I firmly believe that ES Medialdea deferred the mine fund not because he counters President Duterte’s policy against destructive mining operations, but because the petitions center on this controversial trust fund,” Barbers said.
Earlier Lopez expressed disappointment over Medialdea’s order saying he has countered the memorandum order she issued last January asking all suspended mining firms to open another trust fund account before they are allowed to remove their stockpiles from mining areas and export them.
Meanwhile, many of the mining companies are also opposing Lopez’ order because this will cause additional burden to miners.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which is composed of the country’s biggest miners, said they will contest the memorandum order for being redundant.
In another development6, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez said that she is still open to working with the mining industry despite its strong opposition to her reappointment but will not give in when it is clear that the continued operations of the mines puts at risk people’s lives and future.
President Duterte gave Lopez another crack at calling the shots at the environment department after she was bypassed by the Commission on Appointment (CA).
In return, the lady cabinet member thanked the President for her reappointment as she vowed to continue what she believed is right and beneficial to the people saying “I cannot sacrifice the well-being of our people at the altar of business profit.”
The reappointment of Lopez was greeted by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) with disappointment.
According to COMP Legal and Policy Vice President Ronald Recidoro, Lopez’s reappointment is “unfortunate” as he promised that COMP would continue to oppose the confirmation of the DENR chief.
Despite the mining industry’s opposition and attacks against her, Lopez said she is still willing to work with the industry, as long as mining operations conform with the law and do not threaten people’s lives.
The DENR top official said that while she understood the revenue-generating capacity of mining operations, under no circumstances would she compromise the safety of people and allow these to operate if the mines imperiled the welfare of surrounding communities.
“I will not give in when it is clear that the continued operations of the mines puts at risk people’s lives and our future,” Lopez stressed.
“The money they make simply cannot be more important than the well-being of our people,” she added.
With Joel dela Torre