The chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources on Saturday announced the holding of a probe on large-scale mining projects affecting the ancestral lands of national minorities.
“With the urgent requests and recommendations of our affected national minorities, we will initiate a series of onsite investigations on big mines and other destructive projects,” said Bayan Muna party list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate during the committee’s legislative forum.
“We will prioritize the likes of Lepanto, OceanaGold, SR Metals, TVI-RD, and the rest of the 30 mines suspended or recommended for suspension by the DENR,” he said.
The committee’s move was in response to the presentation made by several national minorities, particularly the SANDUGO Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination and the Defend Patrimony Alliance.
“Strategically, the committee aims to cover all operating mines, including companies that have questionable environmental and socio-economic track records that may have escaped the DENR audit,” the lawmaker said.
“Gaps and weaknesses in our mining and environmental policies are among the reasons why these companies continue to escape liabilities. The thrust of the Natural Resources Committee is to address this crisis of environmental policy,” he explained.
Aside from mining projects, the SANDUGO group also raised concerns on other large business coorporations encroaching on their ancestral lands, like the large-scale mono-crop plantations, mega dam and energy projects.