One of the largest players in the mining industry has raised some concerns over the appointment of ABS-CBN Foundation chairperson Gina Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Manuel “Manny” Pangilinan, chairman of Philex Mining Corp., said Lopez’s appointment by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte may lead to some changes such as the imposition of additional requirements to mining companies that could affect future projects.
“I guess the elephant in the room is Gina Lopez. I apologize for my comparison, but first of all let me just say this: I think it is the prerogative of the President to name the secretary he wants to name, and we respect that if she was nominated, and if Gina Lopez will be our secretary then so be it. We respect the decision,” Pangilinan said during the AIM for Change briefing on Wednesday.
“But our attitude, it’s business as usual. We have a mining business, an operating mine up there in Baguio. For us, we will take the view that it will be business as usual,” he added.
“There would be, I guess in the next few years, there will be occasions when Padcal would be required of certain routinary permits — we don’t know what it is [yet]. If we wish to, for example, raise the level of our tailings pond, or if we find additional resources, [then]relevant permits will have to be procured by Padcal from the government. And we’ll have to submit our applications to both the Mines and Geosciences Bureau or MGB and of course with DENR,” the Philex chairman said.
“With respect to renewal of mining tenements, which we have one, and there might be other mining tenements in the pipeline, then there are permits to be procured from the government — that would clearly fall under the DENR. So, we just have to work with what we’ve been dealt with,” he added.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines also expressed concerns over the appointment of Lopez, saying the DENR secretary should be someone who is adept and experienced in natural resources management.
Lopez served the Aquino government as the chief of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, however, said Lopez was a “logical” choice.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Casino noted that Lopez’s appointment sits well with the Left and bodes well for the campaign against destructive mining.
“We have worked with Miss Lopez in the past. We just hope that she will continue her advocacies without letup. We hope her fire will not be watered down in the future,” he said.
The DENR portfolio was among the four Cabinet positions originally reserved for leftist leaders and the former Bayan Muna representative was considered for the post.
Casiño said Lopez is respected for her staunch position against “large-scale, destructive mining” and for her fight against the continued use of coal.