Published June 9, 2017, 10:00 PM By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Now that environmentalist Regina Paz Lopez is no longer with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), uncertainties loom as to whether the review that Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) is supposed to conduct on mining operations to appease the miners and the stakeholders will ever proceed.
To recall, the MICC, co-chaired by the secretaries of DENR and Department of Finance (DOF), is set to conduct a technical review on all mining operations in the country to address the concerns regarding DENR’s earlier decision to shut down and suspend a total of 28 mine sites.
Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), the most vocal critic of Lopez, even thanked the MICC then for deciding to create a technical working group to study the closure and suspension orders imposed by the former environment secretary to several mining firms.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, who heads the DOF Legal Services Group, earlier said the MICC wants to start the technical review in February or “as soon as” possible.
But it has already been more than a month since Lopez failed to get the confirmation from the Commission on Appointments (CA) and the MICC is yet to update the public about the review.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) assistant director Danilo Uykieng said there is “no update yet” as to when the MICC will finally start the audit.
“No update or meeting schedule yet. The last meeting was the short-listing of the experts for the technical team and budget recommendation for approval,” Uykieng told Business Bulletin, adding that the said meeting happened in April, even before Lopez was bypassed by the CA on May 2.
In a separate text exchange, Agabin confirmed that the MICC has not yet started the controversial review.
“We are still vetting the members of the review team and finalizing the Terms of Reference for the review. After this, we need to procure their services following government procurement procedures,” Agabin, who also heads the Legal Affairs Group and Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) of the DOF, also told Business Bulletin.