Published May 19, 2017, 10:01 PM By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Potential mining investors can now have a glimmer of hope about being able to participate in the country’s highly challenged and scrutinized mining industry.
This, as the new Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu assured he won’t close the doors to the possibility of allowing new mining projects in the country.
Under Executive Order 79, which was imposed by former President Benigno Aquino III, no new mineral agreements shall be approved until a legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect.
“As of now, I’m still studying so I don’t have any statement on (possible) policy changes on mining yet,” Cimatu said in an interview with reporters.
“But mining is legal, right? Mining is allowed as long as it’s responsible mining,” he added, when specifically asked if he will consider the possible abolition of EO 79.
For his part, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Mario Luis Jacinto reiterated that the government is capable of regulating the mining industry even with the entry of new mining projects.
“We can definitely regulate the sector. The MGB can and must perform its task of ensuring it that it is able to fully implement the laws and rules and regulations,” Jacinto said.
Jacinto also assured that MGB will only give an “objective assessment” to all the mining issues, especially when it comes to hearing out the concerns of the miners.
“We will give our objective assessment. We can’t side with them (miners). But we will give objective information. We can’t side with them but we can’t also oppress them. They have to point out that why certain things should not be implemented and be implemented,” Jacinto said.
For her part, Nelia Halcon, executive director of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said the industry is now preparing for a dialogue with Cimatu.
“It looks like that he is open to talk to the industry. But maybe he wants to review all the issues first before meeting with us. On our part, we are already preparing our wish list,” Halcon said in a separate interview.
Halcon said the meeting could possibly take place at the end of this month.
During the launch of MGB Central Database System Portal on Friday, Cimatu urged the MGB, an attached agency to the DENR tasked to regulate the mineral sector, to work harder to ensure that the interests of mining stakeholders are served within the bounds of the constitution and existing laws.
“In the coming days, I would expect that you would produce more output for the good and advancement of mining in the country, which of late has suffered much in terms of negative publicity,” Cimatu said.
“It is now the time to reverse this and disabuse the public’s mind about the many misinformation and disinformation they have heard about mining,” he added.