Friday, February 10, 2017

For now to calm lay-off fears Palace, Cabinet stop mine closure, suspension orders

But Marinduque's already degraded and fragile island ecosystem is apparently excluded from the presentations. Not a word on this and Marinduquenos are kept in the dark as usual.

The backlash from the controversial closure and suspension orders by Environment and Natural Resources Gina Lopez against supposedly erring mining companies has prompted Malacañang to intervene, backed by the Cabinet, according to the Department of Finance.

"Members of the Cabinet have expressed their full support behind President Duterte’s decision to observe due process before implementing a directive of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to shut down or suspend 28 mining sites across the country," the department said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

But Lopez made it clear that due process was heeded in the industry-wide audit on mining operations in the country. "I fully support due process and I have followed due process. I can prove it," she said in a text message to GMA News Online.

Lopez announced on February 2 the results of a months-long audit by the DENR in which more than half of the large-scale mining operations failed. 

"The DENR’s move ... has triggered outrage in communities hosting mining sites, as some 195,000 direct and indirect workers and their families, or a total of some 1.2 million people, would be adversely affected by the closure and suspensions of the mine sites," the DOF said.

"Malacañang has swiftly moved to calm fears of massive layoffs in communities affected by Lopez’s sudden move to close down or suspend mining operations in 10 provinces across the country, after several Cabinet officials expressed concern over the detrimental impact of her decision, which she had apparently kept to herself and even excluded members of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) team that conducted the audit, as well as the panel that reviewed the audit findings," the DOF said.

Industry lobby group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which counts as regular members 26 of the biggest miners in the company, welcomed the latest development.

"The Chamber of Mines thanks President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet for deciding to observe due process with regard to the mining issue," the group said in a separate statement.

It said the decision by Malacañang and the Cabinet "... gives hope to our mining communities comprised of the many women and men who rely on the industry for their living."

Sec Gina Lopez and President Duterte

Former President Benigno Aquino III created MICC under Executive Order No. 79 in 2012, the MICC is mandated to oversee reforms and make miners more socially and environmentally responsible while giving the state a bigger share of mining revenues.

"We commit to work closely with government and the Minerals Industry Coordinating Council regarding issues raised to ensure that a fair and just conclusion to the mines audit is reached," COMP said.

"We have not wavered in our commitment to continue being significant contributors to nation-building and inclusive growth," it added.

COMP earlier this week said the country stands to lose more than P1 trillion of investments should the DENR proceed with its closure order.

But Lopez belied such claim, saying most of the money does not benefit the economy.

“To whatever they invest, most of the net income goes to them. They get a seven-year tax holiday, and at the end of the mine they can sell all their equipment and keep the money ... So how are we benefiting here?” Lopez said in a text message to GMA News Online.  — VDS, GMA News

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