Marcos orders DENR to get tougher on small, large-scale mining
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to strengthen its regulatory powers on small and large-scale mining.
The President made the instruction in a meeting with DENR officials in Malacañang on Tuesday, according to the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).
Marcos said his order was to ensure that standards are updated and that mining firms strictly implement their safety and health programs for workers.
“Gusto natin ma-legalize ang mga small-scale mining firms kasi madami sa kanila illegal, kaya walang protection ang mga minero. Gusto nating palakasin ang regulatory framework para maka-operate sila ng legal, upang mabigyan ang ating minero ng assistance at protection para sa ligtas nilang pagtatrabaho,” Marcos said, as quoted by OPS in a press release.
(We want to legalize small-scale mining firms because many are illegal, so their miners have no safeguards. We want to strengthen the regulatory framework so that they can operate legally and give their workers assistance and protection.)
In the meeting, Marcos noted the need to enhance social protection and security for workers in the mining industry.
“We might be able to access financing; they might be able to access social protection,” the President told DENR officials.
“Ang kawawa diyan ‘yung mga miners. They’re really not… they have no safety. Ang daming namamatay,” he added.
Marcos was referring to miners who do not have the proper training and inadequate safety measures inside the mines.
The OPS said there are bills on small-scale mining that the President may certify as urgent, including the amendment to Republic Act 7076 to incentivize small-scale mining (SSM), to provide social assistance and labor protection, as well as government assistance programs.
Under RA 7076, or the Act Creating A People’s Small-Scale Mining Program, SSM pertains to mining activities that rely heavily on manual labor using simple implementations and methods.
The law also defines small-scale mining as an activity that “does not use explosives or heavy mining equipment.”
“I think for now the need is for the regulatory capabilities, especially the small scale,” Marcos said.
In response to Marcos’ order, the OPS said that the DENR committed to review mining laws, including small-scale mining.
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