MANILA, Philippines – Mining companies on Thursday, February 9, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for promising to observe “due process” in the closure and suspension of mining firms, following an audit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“The Chamber of Mines thanks President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet for deciding to observe due process with regard to the mine closures and suspensions,” the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said in a statement.
“We welcome the decision as this gives hope to our mining communities comprised of the many women and men who rely on the industry for their living,” it added.
The DENR had earlier ordered the closure of 23 COMP members and the suspension 5 others after it completed its mining audit.
President Rodrigo Duterte stepped in after several Cabinet officials expressed concern over the negative impact of the DENR decision, announced by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on February 2 (READ: Mining firms use FOI, ask DENR for specific audit findings)
This happened during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, February 7, where the mining issue was discussed.
“The President and his Cabinet collectively decided to observe due process with regard to the mining issue,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said, reporting the outcome of that meeting.
On Thursday, Lopez said in a Palace news briefing that the closure of the mining operations would only be final after the Office of the President decides on the appeals of the mining companies, reiterating a statement she had made when she announced the mining audit results.
The announcement of the mining closures had triggered economic concerns from various quarters.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III expressed concern during the Cabinet meeting, saying that “while his department emergency jobs program in place, it would only be able to absorb a limited number of workers and only for a limited time.”
In a report submitted to the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), COMP pointed out that the livelihood of 1.3 million people stands to be affected by the closures.
The report also said that the country stood to lose P22 billion In investments due to an uncertain climate and that 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of MIMOROPA and Caraga regions are directly from mining operations.
COMP pointed out that the 28 firms ordered closed or suspended accounted for 46% or P4.6 billion of the industry’s total of P10.1 billion of taxes paid in 2015.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had earlier expressed concern over the impact of the closures on the revenues of the mines’ host municipalties. – Rappler.com