Fongwan: What happens now?-A A +A
Friday, September 27, 2013
HEADS rolled Wednesday.
This as various stakeholders in the provincial mining community came together during the weekly Kapihan to discuss the progress, or lack thereof, to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of EO 79 or the act “Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector Providing Policies and Guidelines to Ensure Environmental Protection and Responsible Mining in the Utilization of Mineral Resources.”
“We should wait for the IRRs so we will know what to do,” Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan stressed.
However, the governor expressed confusion over the processing of small scale mining permits after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Board imposed a moratorium on this.
“How will these [small scale miners] secure permits after the EMB’s moratorium? And then the [regional] Cooperative Development Authority here said they do not accept registration and accreditation of small scale miners and that it is their Central Office which is responsible for this,” Fongwan said.
EO 79 provides for applicants in small scale mining to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the EMB and for them to register with the CDA as a cooperative before their permits will even be considered.
“What the [Provincial Mining Regulatory Board] is processing right now is only the renewal of about to expire permits which we issued earlier,” the governor reported.
He continued to express concern about the plight of small scale miners in the province stressing Benguet’s main livelihood hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, Fongwan reported the province used to conduct a profiling on small scale mining operations to identify areas where these are done and if these areas are safe; and ensure environmental sustainability before, during and after operations.
“But where are our miners now? The lack of guidelines for EO 79 has also prevented us from determining if there are new operations. We don’t even know how much [gold] they have produced since they no longer sell to the Central Bank of the Philippines because of taxes imposed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” he lamented.
"Yes, I agree with Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional director Faye Apil to process mining permits while awaiting the IRRs. But the EMB must also move forward with these applications," Fongwan ended.
According to Apil, consultations with the different stakeholders are ongoing even one year into the enactment of the Executive Order.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 28, 2013.