MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the consultations with mining industry players are part of the “right process” the government is taking before Malacanang finalizes the controversial executive order (EO) on new mining policies.
Pangilinan, the chairman of Philex Mining Corp, the country’s largest gold and copper producer, told a press briefing on Thursday, March 1, that mining firms and other industry players were not consulted when the Palace-backed EO was in the works.
“I saw one of the drafts. But the drafting of the draft, no, we were not consulted,” he said when asked if there were efforts on the part of the officials behind the reported mining EO to reach out to the private firms and investor groups.
This mining EO has created an uproar among mining players and investment advocates after different versions of it were leaked. The draft versions require a review of resource contracts, tighter rules and cutting of tax breaks.
Malacanang was supposed to release the final version of the EO on Wednesday, February 29. However, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr said in a statement that they are deferring it.
“We are at present conducting additional consultations with industry stakeholders so we can adopt directives that take into consideration the interests of all those affected by the mining industry–especially the communities directly affected by mining operations–consistent with existing laws, regulations and strict environmental standards,” Ochoa said.
“We’ve given our views to the Chamber of Mines (industry association) and to the government. [We gave] specific comments to the draft that we’ve seen,” Pangilinan said.
“I think they were open to comments for all sectors interested in this. It’s the right process of consultation for the government,” he added.
“[The] NGOs, environmentalists [and] industry memebrs need to be consulted on what might be the appropriate format moving forward about the industry. I think that’s a good sign. I think that’s the right step for the government,” he stressed.
On Friday, March 2, Pangilinan will lead a group of pro-mining groups in a forum that will pit them against representatives of groups that are against mining in the Philippines.
“[There will be] a series of speakers, then a Q&A (question and answer). I think it’s a good format… At least both sides will be heard. Better than a forum where only one side is being heard,” he said. – Rappler.com
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