The Department of Finance (DoF) belied misguided allegations by certain groups that Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd is siding with miners in the controversial closure suspension of mine sites nationwide.
His position is founded on the principles of due process of law and non-impairment of contract obligations as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, the department said.
In a statement on Wednesday, Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez said “the DoF Secretary is simply on the side of the Constitution and the law when it comes to this issue.”
Dominguez himself has stressed in a news briefing at Malacañang on Tuesday that the only position he supports is that of President Duterte, which is to follow due process and honor all contracts in dealing with all kinds of activities in government, she said.
“These critics have conveniently left out one major point in this issue, and it is that both Secretary Dominguez and DENR Secretary Regina Lopez have, as co-chairpersons of the MICC, both signed the Council’s Resolution No. 6, dated Feb. 9, affirming the primacy of procedural and substantive due process in the final resolution of the DENR’s series of actions on the closure or suspension of 28 mines and cancellation of the government’s 75 MPSAs with mining companies,” she pointed out.
Last month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the closure of 23 mining operations and suspended five others. Lopez also canceled the mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) of 75 mining companies.
Alvarez said it is MICC Resolution 6, signed by Lopez and Dominguez, that led to the creation of a technical working group (TWG), which formed five technical teams to conduct a multi-stakeholder review of the DENR orders. The review is expected to take three months.
“As agreed upon by the MICC’s TWG in its organizational meeting last Feb. 20, these technical review teams or TRTs are to go over the compliance of the affected mines with applicable agreements, submissions, laws and regulations as well as the technical, legal, social, environmental and economic impact of the DENR’s orders,” she said.
This MICC action is pursuant to Executive Order 79, which provides for the multi-stakeholder review of mining operations once every two years, in consultation with local government units, she added.
Alvarez noted Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution’s Article III on the Bill of Rights states that, “No person shall be
deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws,” while Article III’s Section 10 states that, “No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.”
Alvarez dismissed the concerns about partiality, noting that the multi-stakeholder review will follow an objective process, given that the TRTs are mandated to take off from the existing reports conducted by Secretary Lopez’s very own DENR’s audit team; and that no representative from the mining industry shall be allowed to take part in the three-month review process.
The five teams will present their findings to the MICC, which shall then submit their recommendations to the Office of the President for a final decision on the closure and suspension orders, she said.
It was only natural for Dominguez and other Cabinet members to be concerned about the impact of the DENR’s actions on local employment and finance, considering that estimates by the Bureau of Local Government Finance show that the closure and suspension orders will cost 17 affected cities and municipalities in 10 provinces over P821 million annually in foregone revenues, Alvarez said.