(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 6, 2017 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Mining stakeholders are now pressuring the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to release the audit results after Secretary Gina Lopez vehemently refused to make public the actual documents on the 23 closed and five suspended large-scale mining firms.
Mining companies are wary after reports came out that Lopez made decisions in contrast with the actual recommendations of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the DENR-attached agency that led the audit.
“At the end of the day, I make the decisions. Their only play here is to recommend but the mining audit was done on July and it took them so long. MGB has been really slow, I’m not happy with them at all,” Lopez said.
The Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) said the full details of the results of the audit has yet to be furnished even to the concerned companies.
“In the spirit of transparency and due process, the PMSEA exhorts the DENR to release the results of the mining audit to clear any doubts and air of suspicions,” PMSEA president Louie Sarmiento said.
“A lot of people will be affected and will lose their jobs for decisions that are arbitrarily done. The President wants reduction in poverty and this is not helping in anyway,” he added.
Despite calls for from mining stakeholders to release the results, the Environment chief remained firm on her decision.
“What’s important here is the decision I made as Cabinet secretary, not the recommendations. I don’t want to show it to you (to the press) whatever it may be,” Lopez said referring to the MGB recommendations.
“Just leave it already, I’ve made my decision. I’m under no obligation to let you know what’s happening here,” she added.
The MGB has refused to comment on the issue since the audit result announcement.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said there is an urgent need to look into the basis of the arbitrary closure and suspension of mines.
“The executive branch has been advocating transparency in its policies and programs and on this basis, we feel we have the right to know the process involved and the results of the audit,” COMP chairman Artemio Disini said.
Amid issues of lack of due process, the DENR maintained the audit was meticulously observed and the results were anchored on integrity.