MANILA, Philippines – Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea defended the Office of the President's "stay order" against Environment Secretary Gina Lopez's directive to suspended mining companies to pay P2 million per hectare of damaged farmland.
He said the move was to prevent any damage caused by mine stockpiles. Lopez wanted to require companies to make the payment before they can be allowed to remove the stockpiles.
"The stay order issued by the OP is not a final order but a mere provisional measure to prevent substantial damage that may result unless extracted ores are shipped out," said Medialdea in a message to Rappler on Wednesday, April 19.
Earlier on Wednesday, Lopez criticized Medialdea for "counteracting" her order to require payment from mining companies.
She accused him of "going against the very spirit of the Duterte administration, which is to help the poor."
The Office of the President has, in fact, not decided with finality on Lopez's order.
"OP has not taken any legal position regarding the validity of the DENR requirement for mining companies to remit P2 [million] per hectare to a trust fund. This is the very issue on appeal to the OP," added the Executive Secretary.
Addressing Lopez's concern that her department's closure orders against mining companies "get stuck" in his office and do not seem to be reaching President Rodrigo Duterte, Medialdea said his office deals with all appeals "uniformly."
"Our office applies the rules on appeal uniformly. The decision or order appealed from is temporarily stayed, unless the case falls under any of the exceptions," he said.
He also gave assurances the order against payment from mining companies "does not contradict the President's policy against destructive mining operations" since it is "provisional in character" and can be changed any time.
"It's not a ruling on the merits. It merely seeks to preserve the status quo ante until it is lifted for justifiable reasons or until a decision is arrived at on the merits," he explained. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.