MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – About 1.2 million people’s livelihoods will be affected by the closure of half of the country’s mines, said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) – an organization of local miners –with the latter arguing that the regulator’s audit was “one-sided” and “compromised.”
COMP on Friday, February 3, decried the closure of 23 mines, the suspension of 5 others, and the risk of more actions to come.
“We are looking at 67,000 jobs. If you use a multiplier effect of at least 4 members in a family, we have a total of 1.2 million people affected,” COMP Chairman Artemio Disini said in a televised press briefing.
His remarks were echoed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who expressed concern over the workers who will be displaced once the closrure and suspension orders are implemented. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Economic promise of mining in PH)
I am deeply concerned over the welfare of the 1.2 million people affected by the closure of the 23 PH mines. This will result in joblessness— Carlos Dominguez III (@SecSonnySays) February 3, 2017
Disini said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) audit was a shock, with the department announcing those found deficient even before these individual companies were formally notified.
DENR Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining operations and the suspension of 5 operations. Among them are COMP members like Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation as well as Benguet Corporation.
“DENR cannot just shutdown mines without due process…The results of the audit was not released, saying that it was too complicated. The executive branch has been advocating transparency in its policies and programs and on this basis, we feel we have the right to know the process in this audit and the persons involved,” Disini said.
Appeal to the president
He added that Lopez even declined to provide details of the recommendations given to her by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-led technical review committee on the months-long audit. (READ: Final DENR list: PGMC’s mine in Surigao also faces closure)
“They (MGB) made a mistake, and if they made a mistake, I’m not going to continue it….I have my own principles and my own understanding of the Constitution, and if somebody has made a mistake in the past, I’m not going to follow that mistake, I would rather rectify it,” Lopez said in a press conference on Thursday, February 2.
On that day, mining and oil stocks were the biggest loser in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), plunging by 1.65% or 200.73 points, closing at 11,951.84. It dragged PSE index’s performance that day, which has been already brought down by US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies.
Before filing a legal complaint, COMP said it will “appeal” to President Rodrigo Duterte first.
Nickel prices have fluctuated since Duterte announced a crackdown on mines deemed irresponsible to the environment. The Philippines is the world’s biggest nickel exporter, supplying 95% of China’s nickel ore imports in the first half of 2016.
In addition, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Sunday, February 5: “I don’t think (Lopez) did it arbitrarily but anything like this would need a response like more scientific and data-driven studies.”
“Obviously it will have an effect on GDP and employment but we don’t have the hard data,” he told Agence France-Presse. – Rappler.com