THE review of the environmental compliance of mining companies will push through this year despite a change in leadership in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said the Commission on Appointment’s rejection of Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez’s nomination as Environment secretary on Wednesday would not affect the upcoming review by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) of all mining operations in the country.
“Yes [it will push through], as we have said all along the MICC is tasked to conduct a review of the existing operations, and it was created two years ago and no review has been done,” he told reporters in an interview on Thursday.
Agabin heads the Department of Finance (DoF) Legal Affairs unit, and represents Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd in the MICC.
“The idea is you review the industry and then come up with policy recommendations. That’s what I think will happen, then we’ll see if there is probably room for improvement here, probably change that requirement there,” he added.
As the respective heads of the DoF and DENR, Dominguez and Lopez were co-chairmen of the MICC, formed in 2012 by then president Benigno Aquino 3rd under Executive Order (EO) 79.
It is the interagency body tasked to reform the Philippine mining sector and craft policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining.
As agreed upon in its February 20 meeting, the MICC will hire independent experts to reassess the operations not just of the 28 mines shuttered or suspended last year by the DENR after an audit, but of all 311 mining contracts in the country.
This was in keeping with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte himself for a comprehensive review during a Cabinet meeting last February.
The council held two meetings that resulted in the adoption of MICC Resolution 6 providing for a “multi-stakeholder” review of all mining operations.
It also sought a P50-million allocation from the Department of Budget and Management to fund this activity over a three-month period.