Gina Lopez’s conscience

8

ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

ARMED with her so-called “conscience,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez reinterpreted RA 7942, the law regulating mining in the country, and ordered the closure of 23 mining operations. It was not just mere suspension, where fines and penalties are imposed. It was an absolute closure order which only the President can reverse.

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In a single act, Gina Lopez has placed her conscience above science and the law and ruled that there should be no mining operations in any watershed in the country.

She referred to a “functional watershed” as a land category, yet such technical term does not even appear in forestry science.

She premised her edict on a principle that exceeds what is provided by law.

RA 7942 already bars mining operations within watersheds, as indicated in section 19. However, the law specifically defines that such prohibition will only exist within proclaimed watershed forest reserves, and not just any watershed. Not all watersheds in the country are proclaimed as watershed forest reserves.

However, Gina Lopez’s conscience would seem to render her unwilling to take into consideration the letter of the law, or even the technical rudiments of science which are contained in the mining audit which she herself ordered to be conducted. The results of that audit she refused to recognize and even initially refused to disclose to the public for the simple reason that she disagreed with it.

Gina’s conscience must be so powerful that she has the gall to set aside the findings of a team of technical experts from her own agency who, armed with the understanding of the law and of science, made the conclusion that would not have recommended a total closure.

Who died and gave Gina Lopez absolute power to negate science and law?

No one is saying that there are no cases of mining violations in the country, and it is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources to take to task those who err, even to the point of ordering a closure of any mining operation. But as a government of laws, and of sanity, it is the burden of Gina Lopez to be more specific in laying down the basis for any drastic decision that would affect not only the fortunes of mining companies but even the lives of those ordinary people whose daily subsistence rests on employment in the mining industry.

She cannot simply rule on the basis of the principle that no mining operations should exist in any watershed in the country. She should prove that those operations are within proclaimed watersheds, which is what is warranted by the law.

She cites damage to the water table, and to the environment. This is precisely why there is a need for the mining audit, for such will outline the specific violations, presented in concise, empirically verifiable terms. This will provide the needed scientific evidence for her claims. It also ensures that due process has been respected. She who alleges violations should present proof that the closure is warranted.

Gina Lopez should be reminded that she is not a priestess of the oracle who is given the sole power to interpret signs from her gods, and that she alone could communicate to the mortals, based on her so-called “conscience.”

Nobody is begrudging her sticking with her advocacy. In fact, she can engage in eco-terrorism if she wants to, and be like the radical environmentalists she exactly is, and sabotage the operations of mining companies using her creative skills in divining messages from her conscience. She can lead the singing of “I believe I can fly” while facing the mining companies in a stand-off.

But she is now the Secretary of the DENR, an agency that is ruled by law and by science. If she orders a closure of an industry that would affect not only lives but the entire economy, it has to be firmly based on law and on scientifically vetted evidence, and not just on her own biased views on the mining problems of the country.

Her arrogance in refusing to initially disclose the results of the mining audit just because she disagreed with it was contrary to the executive order signed by the President ensuring free access to public information. To her credit, she reversed that decision and eventually agreed to make the results public.

In fact, she is even committing grave abuse of discretion in ordering a closure based on her own interpretation of the Constitution and the law by citing a non-existent technical term and by simply relying on her own biased observations as an anti-mining advocate.

She speaks of green economies that she believes can provide better livelihood for people dependent on mining, but only after two years. She forgot to provide an answer to how they would live tomorrow.

Gina Lopez has to meditate hard. If she wants to remain an emotional advocate ruled by her conscience, then she should leave the DENR to those who can make decisions based on reason, law and science.

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8 Comments

  1. Antonio M. Chumacog on

    A worth reading articles! The mining operations in this country is governed by RA No. 7942, the New Mining Act. Section 19 of the said Act and Section 15 of DAO No. 96-40, the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (RIRR) of RA No. 7942, prohibits mining in PROCLAIMED WATERSHED. The Secretary should review the the mining laws or inquire the assistance/comments of the MGB Bureau Director. Yes there are some mining companies who violates the provisions of the RA 7942 and it is the task of the MGB technical personnel to assess the gravity and impose the existing penalties in accordance to the Act and not by mere conscience.

  2. Rea Marie Flores on

    Eto ang sinabi ni HYPOCRITE-GiNA “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS RESPONSIBLE MINING” …Kung ganun dapat pabawalan nya ang kompanya ng kanyang pamilya na hwag gumamit ng bakal ang Rockwell Land Corp sa pagpapatayo ng building …pagbawalan nya ang ABiaS CBN na hwag gumamit ng bakal sa pagpapatayo ng communication tower …dahil ang bakal ay produkto ng mining.

    KUNG GALIT AT AYAW NYO TALAGA SA MINING BUMALIK KAYO SA PANAHON NI EBA AT ADAN. MAGSAPLOT NA LANG KAYO NG DAHON SA KATAWAN !!!

    Lahat tayo bilang tao ang sumisira sa kalikasan. kung gusto nyo na hwag masira ang kalikasan …hwag na kayo gumamit ng cellphone at computer. hwag kayo magsuot ng relo at kwintas na ginto. hwag na kayo sumakay sa kotse, mrt, bus, eroplano at barko. hwag na kayo gumamit ng kaldero at kawali kapag kayo ay magluto. hwag kayo gumamit ng kuryente at internet. higit sa lahat hwag na kayo gumamit na sabon sa paliligo. dahil ang lahat ng eto ay produkto ng mining na sumisira sa kalikasan. MGA HIPOKRITO !!!

    #ResponsibleMining – Hindi ANTI-MINING !!!
    __________________________________________________________
    5 Reasons Why You Can’t Live Without Mining
    by Russell Taylor – Published on April 23, 2014

    Over the last several years mining has been despised by all types of people from all parts of the globe. Mining is described as archaic and so unnecessary. It has become trendy to oppose mining in all of its shape and forms. The greens convinced the media who convinced the politicians, who in turn convinced you. But like the old Chinese Whispers, the facts have long been lost. But that’s not the most interesting part.

    What the greens, politicians and media don’t tell you, is that almost every part of your life and lifestyle is only made possible through mining minerals. Mining is very important to you, even if you don’t know it. You are the reason mining exists, yet you want it to stop? Your insatiable appetite for the products made (and still yet to be invented) are a by-product of mining. Consumerism is growing not only with the increasing world population, but also with individuals. How many of us own multiple cars, phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, watches, jewelry, and the list goes on and on. You say mining must stop; but what you are really saying through your actions is “I despise mining, but I can’t get enough of it’s by-products or the benefits it provides me”. Doesn’t quite make sense does it?

    Here are five reasons why you can’t live without mining –

    1. You

    You want to be healthy and look your best. Did you know that the majority of beauty products contain minerals like iron, talc, bismuth, zinc, silica. Minerals are used in vitamins, soaps, toothpaste, shampoo, household medicines and just about every product you purchase and apply. The food you purchase and eat is mass produced with the use of fertilisers that contains minerals such as phosphate, sulfur, cadmium and phosphorous; that are by-products of mining. Lets not forget about the gym equipment. It contains a huge mix of metals such as iron, aluminum, titanium and copper. What about the gym equipment with electronics? It also contains copper, lead, quartz, gold, tantalum, mica, germanium and samarium. Jewelry, watches and mobile phones are not organically grown, they are made from gold, silver, platinum, cadmium, quartz, alloys and may include precious stones. Medical practices like joint replacements, pace makers, minor and major surgery all require equipment that contains a very wide range of minerals

    Yes all of the above minerals and precious stones are sourced through mining and many of them through large open cut mines.

    So from the time you wake each morning to the time you have your breakfast; mining has already played a big part in your day.

    2. Your Home

    Your home is made of minerals, in fact the foundations are made of concrete and steel. The basic services in your home (water, electricity, gas) are conducted through copper and steel wires and pipes. Think about that the next time you turn on a tap or flick a light switch on. Your bathrooms and kitchen are fitted out with essential and non essential products that also contain many minerals only made possible from mining. Yes mining provides you with the basic elements of your life – that you take for granted. You fill your home with all sorts of electronic gadgets to improve your quality of life. None of them are possible without mining the minerals that they are made from. Did you know that your television contains several rare earths?

    How many of us use wooden or plastic frying pans, pots, plates, cups, glasses and cutlery at home? That’s right, the majority of us use these items that are made of minerals. Minerals that have been mined.

    3. Your Transport

    Transport is very important to the population across the world, for many facets of our daily life. If you use any of these modes of transport – aircraft, boat, car, bus, train, motorcycle, bicycle or segway, then you are relying on the by-products of mining for your transportation. A significant variety and quantity of minerals are required to manufacture these vehicles without even considering the fuel to power it. Now lets think about the surface most of these vehicles travel on (including you if you walk). The roads, rails and concrete paths; are only possible because mining companies mined the minerals used to make these surfaces for you.

    Actually the same applies to the equipment used to control the flow of traffic and make it safe and reliable for you to travel. Mined minerals and more mined minerals.

    4. Your Work

    Basically the same facts apply at your work as to your home. The next time you are having a coffee at work (and home) , look around and almost everything that you can see and touch contains minerals that are the by-product of mining. The building, equipment, your office, your window, your desk and most things on and in it. Yes even the chair you are sitting on and the mug you are holding – good chance it is a by-product of mining. The company you work for or its customers, cannot function or exist without these minerals. It doesn’t matter what your business is or your product and services, it wouldn’t function or exist if mining companies stopped mining.

    Can you think of a company or occupation that doesn’t use the minerals that are mined?

    5. Your Energy

    In our modern lifestyles we cannot function without energy. But do you know how that energy gets to your home or office? Raw minerals are mined and sent to a power plant for refining. It could be a power plant that uitilises coal, gas, oil or uranium to produce electricity. These raw fuels, the power plant, the transmission lines and sub stations are all sourced and constructed from the minerals made only possible by mining.

    Renewable energy you say! Well, mining is still required. Again the foundations are made of concrete and steel. The equipment that processes the solar, wind or water energy is actually made of mined minerals. Renewable energy still requires power plants, transmission lines and substations to deliver the power to you. You still require the copper wires in your house and office to be able to receive the electricity to your power point or light switch.

    Do you still think mining is unnecessary?

    So the next time you have the urge to call for an end to mining – take a few seconds to look at yourself and your home first. Take a look at how minerals assist you to earn your money and enjoy a quality lifestyle. Think about how even the basics elements of your life would be possible without mining companies mining minerals.

    Oh and the next time someone from the greens, politics or media tell you that mining is not necessary; look at the beauty products and jewelry that they are wearing, electronic equipment that they are carrying and then think how the five points above, apply to their life and work.

  3. have you been to surigao norte and sur Mr. Contreras? have you seen the devastation to the environment brought about by mining operations? if Ms. Lopez conscience was touched it’s because of that reason. mining operations should be reviewed thoroughly before letting them operate and stringent policies should be implemented. as an NGO representative then i have observed rampant violations of these mining companies. although i do not believe in stopping these activities government must strictly monitor and implement mining laws to the letter.

  4. AP Contreras maraming salamat! //…then she [Gina Lopez] should leave the DENR to those who can make decisions based on reason, law and science.// Got somebody who has reason, law, science and conscience?

  5. Kristine Ong Muslim on

    Wow. It is not everyday that I get to read the reprehensible position of a staunch defender of mining in watershed reserves–proclaimed or not.

    • What is reprehensible on the facts that was mentioned by Mr Contreras? Is’nt it true that an independent audit of this mining premises should be the basis of gets to be closed and who are not? Our constitution provided our country the laws that must be followed and must be used.If such laws are not enough to prevent the deplorable destruction of our nations environment,then Sec.Lopez can ask congress to legislate new and environmentally friendly laws to keep the mining companies from repeating and continuing their acts of destroying our forests and watersheds.Mr Contreras is correct by saying that this country is governed by laws and therefore laws must and should prevail not anyone or anybody’s advocacy…

  6. Tony (Mr. Contreras kasi is too formal) this article struck me – a parallel situation in another important aspect of the nation’s governance or maybe even deeper have been happening for a long time. The misapplication of reason, law and science seems to be the same thing besetting our electoral system especially since the use of computer technology started in 2010 or as early as 1996 or 1998. Comelec’s top honchos haven’t used the term “conscience” yet in justifying the massively fraudulent elections we have had in 2010, 2013 and 2016 and the pilots or tests on automation since 1996/1998. But wait till Chairman Bautista joins the Lopez “consciencious” religion wagon.

    Our election laws are basically 95% LAWS and the remaining 5% shared between reason and science. There already suddenly emerged the so-called “Election Science” since after the Florida election mess in the year 2000 yet Comelec, including its IT Department, seems to be clueless in said science until now. For example the science so far applied in our elections is very limited – only within the boundaries of Smartmatic’s paltry scientific ability. An ability based only on their creative theories and practices of market capture and profit generation that is near-blind to any ethical or moral concept. One example is the logically and mathematically and practical infeasibility of proving the existence of fraud in our automated elections that can be called the Catch 22 situation or a perpetual logic loop. Here is how it goes: to prove fraud, you have to present clear evidence that indeed there is fraud but to get the evidence of proof of fraud you have to open ballot boxes and do a manual recount yet to be allowed to open the ballot boxes you have to show proof that there is fraud. To make it fatally worse the access to the pieces of evidence is controlled by the automated system that has been fortified by security means (kuno) to preserve the opaqueness of the election electronic data and manual records. Transparency is totally thrown to the winds when this is precisely what is needed to make us believe that what high priests of the Comelec sermonize that the system is clean, accurate, fair and secret. Another example is the RMA or the Random Manual Audit which is neither Random nor a real Audit and just something Manual for ballots are recounted manually. Therefore any conclusions derived from the exercise in futility cannot be believed. The digital signature requirement is delivered as a machine signature (a robot) not an secure equivalent of a human signature. The independent source code review, also mandated by law, is a “takip-silip” exercise in stupidity for it is protected with so many conditionalities that totally defeat the very purpose of the review. And so on and so forth !