Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez on Wednesday said all the closure and suspension orders on 28 mining companies will be signed and released to them individually.
This development comes on the heels of a strong lobby by mining companies for the government to produce the results of the recently concluded mining audit.
In a statement, Lopez said the recommendations submitted to her by the technical committee will be released to the mining industry.
“What happened was an omnibus directive. It was prepared for all mining companies and our lawyers have decided it should be issued to individual mining companies. That’s why there’s been a delay,” Lopez said.
The mining audit conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was fair and within the law, she said.
The industry audit was done to protect the present and future generations as enshrined in the Mining Law and the Philippine Constitution, the Cabinet official noted.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines has criticized the audit and the recommendations, claiming the audit lacked due process and would lead to loss of employment and livelihood in affected communities. The chamber as the industry lobby group noted the closures would result in tax revenue loss for local governments hosting large-scale mining operations and the national coffers.
Lopez has vowed that within two years she will prove that a green economy can create more jobs than mining could ever create.
While the mining industry has created jobs, Lopez is standing pat on her position that sustainable economic development could be achieved without destroying the environment and causing suffering to people and that inclusive green economy is way better an alternative to mining.
The DENR chief noted the issue is social justice and not mining. At the end of the day, she said she had “to make the decisions based on truth, service and the common good.”
Lopez earlier admitted that she lacked the technical know-how in mining, but emphasized that the closure and suspension orders were done “to protect the present and future generations.”
In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, Lopez said she has to rely on “someone who has the common good in his heart,” who happens to be former Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Leo Jasareno.
“I’m having him as a consultant because I trust him. My experience with him has been a man with unquestionable integrity,” Lopez said, citing Jasareno’s 38-year experience with the MGB.
“He’s really, really clean. In fact, during his term, there have been more suspensions in the mining industry,” she added.