|Aaron Roi B. Riturban
The previous government had adopted an anti-mining
stance, imposing a moratorium on the approval of new mineral
agreements. As a result, key players in the Philippine mining
industry have been cautiously optimistic and looking forward to
the positive changes that the new administration might
introduce. This was particularly the case when the presidential
election frontrunner (who is now the President of the Republic
of the Philippines) declared that he would support responsible
mining in the country and honour existing mining contracts.
However, that optimism appears to be have been short-lived
as the first official act of the new secretary of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was to
issue a memorandum that not only sustained the moratorium on
the approval of new mining projects but also launched a
comprehensive review of all operating mines in the Philippines.
This was to:
(i) determine the adequacy and efficiency of the
environmental protection measures of each mining operation;
(ii) identify gaps in environmental protection measures;
(iii) determine the appropriate penalties in the case of
violation of mining and environmental laws.
To date, the ongoing audit has resulted in the suspension of
10 mining companies for violating environmental standards.
Meanwhile, 20 mining companies face possible suspension of
their operations. In fact, the DENR had announced that, based
on its audit, only 11 out of the 41 operating metallic mines in
the Philippines are fit to continue operations. The violations
cited include: water discolouration due to siltation; soil
erosion; lack of social development and rehabilitation
projects; destruction of the forest: tree cutting without the
relevant permits; and inadequate preventive measures in the
While these results demonstrate the present administration's
resolve to enforce environmental standards, there is a growing
concern among stakeholders that these developments could
dissuade future investment in the industry.
Aaron Roi B. Riturban