House panel chair backs DENR closure of ‘abusive’ mines
House Natural Resources committee chairperson and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Friday backed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez for shutting down 23 “abusive” mining companies and suspending 5 others.
“Massive environmental destruction can be stopped or at least drastically minimized by overhauling environmental and mining laws through the junking of the Mining Act of 1995,” Zarate said in a statement.
“Now is the time to replace the current mining regime with a new one, like House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill now being deliberated in Congress,” he added.
House Bill 2715 seeks to reorient the Philippine mining industry toward wise and sustainable development and judicious use of the country’s mineral resources. It also defines the “significant roles of mining and a prosperous minerals industry in attaining a progressive, independent, industrialized and self-reliant economy.”
Lopez on Thursday ordered the closure of 23 mining operations and suspension of five mines. Her announcement was the pinnacle of the DENR’s mining audit covering all 40 large-scale mines operating in the country.
”All the concerned companies should now also be ordered to pay for the damages and compensation for those affected by their destructive operations and for the rehabilitation of the areas,” Zarate said.
He also called for the immediate enforcement of the DENR order, as well as the permanent closure of companies that has caused massive damage to the environment and livelihood of the people.
“The constant monitoring of the 5 suspended mines should also be done for them to strictly comply with environmental laws,” Zarate added. CDG/rga
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