Duterte will have final say on the fate of 23 mines
It will be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide if the suspension slapped on at least 23 mines will push through, even as the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) on Thursday ordered a review of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) audits.
Following a five-hour meeting, the MICC, cochaired by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, issued Resolution No. 6, which called for the establishment of a multistakeholder review of the DENR’s orders to shut down mines in 10 provinces, as mandated under Executive Order No. 79.
“The review shall be based on the guidelines and parameters set forth in the specific mining contract and in other pertinent laws, taking into account the valid exercise of the State’s police power to serve the common good, especially of the poor,” the resolution said.
Lopez told a press conference that companies were given seven days to respond to initial show-cause orders last year.
“Further review was conducted by a technical review committee for five months before releasing the results, ensuring that we followed the process meticulously,” Lopez said in a statement.
However, Lopez said the MICC review would only be recommendatory, hence it would be ultimately up to her if she would consider them.
Dominguez told reporters that Lopez may indeed “ignore” the recommendations of the MICC.
But both Dominguez and Lopez acknowledged that in the end, Mr. Duterte would have the final say on whether the closure orders will be ultimately implemented, as affected companies can still appeal to the President.
Lopez nonetheless said the review may cover all mines and mining operations, including those not yet issued closure orders.
“We’ll look at the contract of each mining firm. If there’s a clause that they can appeal or invoke arbitration, they can do so,” Dominguez said.
Meanwhile, the country’s biggest business group has added its weight to a push to observe due process with respect to the order of Lopez for the closure of 23 mines and the suspension of five others.
Hans Sicat, president and chief executive of the Philippine Stock Exchange, on Friday told a forum that the DENR’s announcement of the orders “may have been a worrisome trend, if not very irresponsible.”
The forum was organized jointly by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines. —WITH A REPORT FROM JAYMEE T. GAMIL
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