(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 4, 2017 - 12:00am
Urge Review of DENR Closure Order
MANILA, Philippines - Mining industry players have sought the intervention of President Duterte’s economic team to reverse the recent order issued by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez shutting down the operations of 23 mining firms.
In a briefing yesterday, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said it has written a letter to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III asking him to step in and save the fledgling industry.
“Being one of the members of the economic team of the President, he will be in a position to see the likely implications of the closure and suspension and the impact it will bring about in the basic services and livelihood programs provided in the communities,” COMP chairman Artemio Disini said.
Dominguez, co-chair of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, said the DOF is now assessing the impact of the closures and suspension of mining operations on employment and the finances of the affected local government units.
President Duterte, meanwhile, reiterated his support for Lopez. “I support her and there was never a time I called her to slow down a little bit,” he said.
Mining firms are questioning the way the audit was done, saying the results were compromised.
“After the first audit, the results showed that some were not favorable to the DENR’s wishes and since then no actual reports ever came out because they said it’s too complicated,” Disini said.
COMP said there was 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,” Disini said.
“It is hard to convince a person who has a mindset against mining. When Gina talks of social justice whatever that means, you’re like looking at a fairytale situation, it never happens even in an industrialized situation,” she said.
“It’s not only the local stock exchange that will see a decline in the price stock but also international exchanges and that will not bring a good impression about how we invite investors in the country,” Halcon added.
For his part, Mindanao Business Council chairman Vicente Lao said more than 50 percent of the mines to be closed are in Mindanao and this will have a serious threat to communities in the area.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be addressed, the Secretary has a very critical balancing job, you have to look at the cost and benefit of what you are doing. It’s not just protecting the environment, it’s also about the jobs that will be lost and the revenues that will not be generated,”Lao said.
COMP estimates almost P70 billion in gross production value and close to P20 billion in taxes will be lost if the DENR decision will not be overturned. About 67,000 jobs are also at risk.
“If that’s the policy of the government who are we to argue with that, but since there’s a contract between government and investors, there has to be a due process, that’s what the industry is just asking,” Lao said.
“That’s not the way to conduct an audit, the audit has to be unbiased and has to be fair. At the end of the day, we just want due process in all these things,” he added.
Among the 23 firms covered by the closure order are Benguet Corp. Nickel Mines, Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., LNL Archipelago Minerals, Eramen Minerals Inc., AAMPhil Natural Resources Exploration & Development Corp., Krominco, Sinosteel Philippines HY Mining Corp., Oriental Synergy Mining, Wellex Mining, Libjo Mining, Oriental Vision Mining Philippines, Benguet Corp., Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp., Adnama Mining Resources, Claver Mineral Development, Platinum Development Corp., CTP Construction and Mining, Carrascal Nickel Mining, Marcventures Mining and Development Corp., Hinatuan Mining, Mt. Sinai Exploration Mining & Development, EMIR -Resources. – With reports from Mary Grace Padin.