Miners want full disclosure of DENR audit, invoke freedom of information | Inquirer News

Miners want full disclosure of DENR audit, invoke freedom of information

Amineworker at OceanaGold’s gold-copper project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya province, undergoes a security check before entering themining site inDidipio village. —MELVINGASCON

A mine worker at Oceana Gold’s gold-copper project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya province, undergoes a security check before
entering the mining site in Didipio village. —MELVINGASCON

Miners have invoked freedom of information in requesting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to fully disclose the audit of mines that led to the order for the closure of 23 projects and the suspension of five others.

In a two-page filing, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) cited Executive Order No. 2 issued in 2016 and DENR Administrative Order No. 2016-19, both providing guidelines for the right to full disclosure and transparency of public transactions.


The chamber asked the DENR to provide it with copies of the mine audit reports pertaining to 29 mining companies, including one whose mines’ status was “deferred.”


COMP also sought copies of the recommendations of the DENR technical review committee for the 28 mines. The committee was tasked with going over the results of the mine audit.

Environmental tests

“We need the actual test results which were used as bases for determining whether these mining firms have violated environmental regulations,” COMP chair Artemio Disini said in a statement.

Disini said the mining companies wanted to see that water and air quality tests, siltation test, proper solid waste management and other pertinent and standardized tests—as prescribed by law—were done.

“The chamber is asking for these in the spirit of fairness and transparency,” he said.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said the closure order for 23 mines would not be implemented while the companies were appealing the directive to President Duterte, who would hand down the final decision on the matter.


Lopez nevertheless stood pat on her decision to stop the mining operations, especially those in watershed areas.

She said that during the Cabinet meeting earlier this week, what was agreed upon was that due process and the rule of law would be followed with regard to the mines.

That was precisely what she did “at every single, single, single, single, single step of the way” when she ordered the closure of the mines, Lopez said.

But the owners of the mines could still appeal her decision to Mr. Duterte.

“So, when they appeal to the President, the mine still continues operation while it’s on appeal,” she said. “It only takes effect when it’s rendered final by the President.”

Watershed areas

Fifteen of the 23 mines are within watershed areas.

Lopez said her order to shut mines operating in watersheds had the backing of the President.

“It would take a miracle to convince me to allow mining in watersheds. As far as I know it’s against the law…. against the Constitution. He (Duterte) said ‘I agree there should be no mining in watersheds,’” Lopez said at a media briefing.

Should the President uphold her decision, it would be implemented even if the mining firms elevated the matter to the courts.

“But when they go to court, they have to stop the mine. I can use the rehab funds. That’s what I want to do. There’s so much money there. I want to use their money,” she said.

Social justice

Lopez announced last week her decision to shut down 23 mines for “indiscriminate mining” that ruined watershed areas. Her decision to close down the mines, she also said, was “social justice.”

She said on Thursday that she first issued an omnibus order for the closure, but was later advised that she had to issue individual closure orders. As of Thursday, she had signed 12 orders.

Her closure order had mining firms up in arms, and they warned that some 1.2 million people—including workers  and their dependents—would lose their jobs if the operations were to close down.

But Lopez disputed this on Thursday, saying that as of 2014, the mining industry had provided only 235,000 jobs.

“So I honestly don’t know where they’re getting this number of 1.2 [million],” she added.

The mines to be closed account for half of nickel ore output by the world’s top supplier of the metal.

The mining firms are hoping that the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) would reverse Lopez’s orders to close down the 23 mines and suspend five others.

The MICC can make only recommendations regarding the closure or suspension of mines, but the environment secretary exercises the higher authority, according to Lopez.

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The “MICC is recommendatory. I make the decisions,” she told the Inquirer.

TAGS: closure of mining firms, COMP, DENR, Gina Lopez, mining firms

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