Mining EO necessary, in the works, says Palace
Even if the government comes up with a policy statement on mining, it would still need to issue an executive order and even propose new legislation or amendments to the Mining Act to execute that policy, a high-ranking Cabinet official clarified on Saturday.
“The policy statement will establish the values and principles upon which the evolving Aquino administration mining policy will be based,” explained Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a senior adviser to President Benigno Aquino III.
“From this will flow the necessary steps and actions to execute the agreed-upon solutions in the form of legal, administrative, technical, executive and legislative measures,” he said.
Abad was speaking possibly in reaction to the Inquirer report the other day quoting unnamed administration officials saying the government was dropping the idea of issuing an executive order setting out the rules for the mining industry but would instead issue a mining policy statement incorporating certain provisions laid out in the proposed EO.
The Palace apparently had second thoughts about issuing a mining EO after a mining conference last week which pitted industry proponents against environmentalists, and made the Aquino administration appreciate that there were “diverse” and “strong views” on the extractive industry.
But Abad on Saturday categorically stated that there will be a mining EO even when the policy statement is already in place.
“Certainly, the (executive order) will encompass the administrative and executive measures and issuances that are within the executive department’s jurisdiction to undertake and/or issue in response to the issues and concerns already commonly identified,” he said.
“And those that require amendments to the Mining Act and other related measures will have to be referred to Congress for legislative action,” he added.
The budget secretary said the proposed executive and legislative actions are still being threshed out as the government continues to conduct consultations with various stakeholders.
On Friday, a draft mining policy meeting was held in Malacañang exclusive to environment officials and those belonging to the economic cluster of the Cabinet, a first by all accounts from inside the Palace.
“The policy framework will be important as a basic parameter in addressing the issues already determined, the approaches and/or solutions to them and the process by which the multistakeholder consensus-building activity will be guided,” Abad explained.
He said issues that cannot be resolved right away will be set aside for further deliberations and research.
“What is important is that measures and issuances adopted are consistent with the administration’s priorities, are evidence and fact-based and are informed by the best practices in other countries, especially those similarly situated,” he said.
“The big difference under the process set in motion by President Aquino is the laying down of the basic principles that should underlie and define the administration’s mining policy and multistakeholder process of arriving at the issuances and measures that will give flesh to those principles,” Abad added.
Among these principles, he said, are the equitable sharing of mining revenues, greater value-added in mining operations, ensuring the integrity of the environment, total economic valuation, transparency, and enlightened and effective stakeholder engagement.
Secretary Ricky Carandang, of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said the mining policy recommendations discussed at the Friday meeting would remain mere suggestions “until the President signs off on it.”
Carandang described the meeting of the environment protection officials with the members of the Cabinet’s economic cluster as a comprehensive discussion on the effects of mining on the environment, the economy and the country’s indigenous peoples.
He said officials agreed that there was a need to review existing laws and policies to increase the amount of revenues the government would get from mining operations in the country.
“There’s a consensus to revisit how much government gets by allowing mining in the country,” Carandang told reporters.
He said the government is looking at the experience of other countries like Canada, Australia and South Africa in generating revenues from mining.
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