DENR urged to show audit report

MINING groups on Saturday urged Environment Secretary Regina Lopez to release the results of the review conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau which became her basis to order the closure of 21 mining operations in the country. 

In a statement, the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association said that while it remains firm in its commitment to support responsible mining as espoused by the DENR secretary, Lopez should dispel speculations within the mining industry that the closure order was made without due process. 

“It appears that full details of the results of the Mining Audit is yet to be furnished to the concerned companies. The closures/suspensions, if affirmed, will have far reaching effect especially in mining communities that play host to these mines—employees and their dependents, contractors, and mine-dependent small businesses will be the biggest losers,” the PMSEA said. 

Environment Secretary Regina Lopez

“In the spirit of transparency and due process, the PMSEA exhorts the DENR to release the results of the mining audit to clear any doubts and air of suspicions,” the group added. 

The PMSEA is an organization of mining companies, quarries, cement plants, suppliers, service contractors, professional organizations and government agencies which that promote occupational safety, improved health standards and environmental protection in mining-related operations.

Mining groups raised their concern after Lopez refused to present the recommendations made by the MGB that led her to order the closure of 21 mining operations in the country and the suspension of five others. 

Following Lopez’s decision, only 12 mining firms passed the mining audit that started seven months ago.

During her press conference last Thursday, Lopez  refused when asked if they could get a copy of the MGB’s recommendations on mining operations. 

“I’m gonna think about it, because if I don’t agree with it then I’m not gonna give it to you. Because I don’t agree with it, so why will I give it to you? If it’s not resonant with the principles on which DENR runs, and it’s not consonant with my own observations of my going [to mining sites], why will I give it to you if I don’t agree with it,” Lopez was quoted by online news site Rappler. 

“I don’t have to have you privy to the processes on which I make my decisions. What I’m sharing with you are the principles on which I stand by, and I truly hope you share the same principles because you’re Filipino.”

“I’m not going to show you…because I don’t want anything complicated, and I don’t want to rock the boat. Just leave it already, I’ve made my decision and accept it. That’s what you write about, don’t try to make things complicated.”

Lopez insisted that she still calls the shots in the end and that the MGB report would be shown only to President Rodrigo Duterte. 

“I’m under no obligation to let you know what’s happening,” she told reporters. “If the President asks me, I am under obligation to give it to him.”

The Philippine Nickel Industry Association meanwhile, lamented Lopez’ decision to proceed with the suspension and closure of majority of the operating mines in the country, saying that all of its member-companies have complied with existing mining and environment laws. 

“Knowing that our member-companies are compliant with existing laws and operate with the highest industry standards, we are deeply disappointed with this recent development,” the PNIA said.

“PNIA assures all stakeholders of the nickel industry, especially our workers and beneficiary host communities, that we will seek clarification with DENR on this matter and exhaust all avenues to save our industry.”

Topics: Department of Environment and Natural Resources , DENR , Environment Secretary Regina Lopez , audit report , Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association , Mines and Geosciences Bureau
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