Palace orders LGUs: Comply with nat’l mining laws

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BAGUIO CITY—Malacañang has asked local governments to make sure their ordinances do not clash with national laws on mining and  the new mining policy enacted by President Benigno Aquino’s Executive Order No. 79.

Last week, Cordillera towns and provinces, where the oldest Philippine mines started operations, were given copies of a Nov. 8 circular from Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II which directs all governors and mayors “to take appropriate measures for the amendment of provisions of existing and relevant ordinances and guidelines” to conform with how the national government defines a “valid ordinance.”

Memorandum Circular No. 2012-181 cited jurisprudence from a 1994 case and a 2001 case, which states that valid ordinances must “not contravene the Constitution or any statute,” must not be oppressive or discriminatory, and must be “consistent with public policy.”

These citations also led the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to conclude that the local government’s power to legislate is a “delegated power coming from Congress,” the circular said.

Because town governments are agents of the national government, they “cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of [the national government],” it said.

“The principle of local autonomy under the 1987 Constitution simply means ’decentralization.’ It does not make local governments sovereign within the state,” Roxas said.

In July, various local governments protested Section 12 of EO 79, which asserted that all local laws must be consistent with national laws, particularly with regard to mining.

The policy may suppress local governments that have barred mining in their communities through ordinances, they said.

John Castañeda, Cordillera director of the DILG, said Roxas’ instructions have been transmitted to Cordillera leaders.

He said the agency had no record of any Cordillera town with ordinances and resolutions “that run contrary to national mining laws.”

The pioneer mines in the country began in Benguet, beginning with Benguet Corp. which has asked for permission to mine its old tailings dam using modern technology that extracts gold from mine wastes.

Philex Mining Corp. and the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. continue to operate their old mines in the towns of Itogon and Mankayan, respectively. Large-scale mining applications also cover Kalinga.

But Beverly Longid, president of the party-list group, Katribu, said town officials had pushed for the passage of resolutions against large-scale mining operations, particularly in the Mt. Province towns of Tadian, Besao and Sagada.

Longid said she was unaware if a similar resolution passed the Mt. Province provincial board.

She said Katribu and other organizations opposed to commercial mining “will work with local governments in producing proindigenous peoples and pro-environment ordinances.” Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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