Lawmaker’s bill to make Oro 'mining-free zone'

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


CAGAYAN de Oro will soon be a mining-free zone after Congress passed the bill filed by this city’s Second District representative Rufus Rodriguez in its final reading without objection.

Rodriguez said last week the proposed legislation he filed, House Bill No. 45, went through the plenary unopposed.

“And last Monday, it (the bill) was approved on the third reading with the support of 293 lawmakers,” said Rodriguez.

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It was first passed on the committee on the natural resources and still no one objected to the bill.

He furthered that he had conversations with some of the senators like Teofisto Guingona III and he is optimistic that it will be approved at the Senate level and eventually gets signed by the president into law.

“There are no further obstacles and I see this will be approved in the Senate,” Rodriguez said.

Meanwhile, Lorelyn Dumaug, the 1st district chairman of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP), said the group is hopeful that the bill will be approved in the Senate.

She furthered that the approval of the Lower House is already a big thing.

Dumaug said CDP believes that the group stands for responsible mining, “but in areas where declaring a mining-free zone is a necessity, then we are in full support of it.”

“I can see that declaring (Cagayan de Oro) and Iligan as mining-free zones is a necessity,” said Dumaug.

Objective

The main reason why the bill was created is to prevent another Sendong-like calamity in the city.

“The objective was to protect the environment, and through that we can prevent the occurrence of another Sendong,” Rodriguez said.

He added that the bill was also created to stop illegal small-mining operations in the city’s hinterland areas.

Rodriguez cited the recent discoveries of mining operations in Cagayan de Oro’s upland communities.

He added that mining in the city was abused resulting to the destruction of the ecology and one of its dangerous effects was Sendong.

Dumaug said the city needs this bill to become a law because the environment urgently needs rehabilitation as a proactive measure against calamities.

She said in the city’s upstream rivers, the water is murky and it is not anymore normal.

Rodriguez and his brother Maximo Jr., the representative of Abante Mindanao (Abamin) party-list, authored House Bill 45 (HB 45).

HB 45 declares that: “It is the policy of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

It added that it is the role of the State to “protect the people and the environment in Cagayan de Oro City from the adverse effects of mining.”

Section 3 states that any person who violates any provisions of the Act shall be penalized with imprisonment of at least six years but not more than 12 years.

The violators will also be fined of at least P100,000 but not more than P500,000.

In cases where the mining firm is foreign, their local representatives like the manager, president, or its agent in the Philippines shall be held liable.

Livelihood

Dumaug said the CDP is aware that this bill will surely affect the livelihood of the people in the hinterland communities, especially those who are engaged in mining.

She said: “But if the government is really serious in rehabilitating the environment then they must find a way.”

Prior to the proposal of the bill declaring the city as a mining-free zone, Rodriguez said a law has already been created to help the people in the hinterlands with their livelihood and reforestation.

Republic Act No. 10452 seeks to reforest some 3,000 hectares in the hinterlands of the city.

“When there’s no mining, there’s a way to take care of the livelihood of the people in the area,” said Rodriguez.

He said the budget for reforestation is around P35 million that is now in the hands of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Rodriguez said the reforestation project would provide the people an option to get a livelihood than depend on mining work.

“So, while stopping mining this (reforestation) will help, people will have livelihood,” said Rodriguez.

He added the administration of City Mayor Oscar Moreno is also planning to implement programs like livestock raising, handicraft and food production among others to aid people’s livelihood.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 08, 2014.

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