TWO of the largest business groups in Cebu have expressed their support for the government’s crackdown on mining activities in the country, but at the same time sought an opportunity for affected mining companies and contracts to be rightfully heard.
“The chamber supports the program of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) in saving the environment. It is important that all of those mining that has been asked to be closed to be given the opportunity to present their cases,” said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) vice president for external affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. in an interview on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the cancellation of 75 mining contracts that are located near watershed areas, on top of the closure of 23 mines and suspension of five others for damaging watersheds and causing siltation in coastal waters and farms last Feb. 2.
In addition, show cause orders have been issued to allow them to explain why their mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) should not be cancelled for threatening watersheds, which are said to be a major source of drinking water for many communities.
“But definitely, while the chamber is for business, it requires also good business. I have always been for responsible mining. Responsible mining follows the rule of law. As you mine, you actually rehabilitate,” said Locson.
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Glenn Anthony Soco said the chamber trusts the process of the DENR, which led to the decision.
“We have to be able to find the balance between business and taking care of our environment. That’s the reason we have the DENR to primarily regulate our business to be compliant with environmental laws. On the other hand, we also believe that our mining firms will have a recourse as provided for in our laws,” said Soco in a text message.
It is irresponsible mining that the local business leaders want eradicated.
“There are mining (activities) where they just get the resources, and after they finish getting the resources, that’s it and that is very irresponsible,” said Locson.
“It’s useless even if they say it generates income but income only for what? For a year or two in exchange of destroying our environment and loss of our resources?” he added.
The Chamber of Mines said on Wednesday that they will be filing a formal opposition against the confirmation of Lopez at the Commission on Appointments, saying she is not fit for the job given her bias against mining and lack of environmental resources management experience.