Bunye: Light at the end of the tunnel?

AFTER almost a year of instability under the previous DENR leadership, the mining industry may finally be seeing the "light at the end of the tunnel."

Though former DENR secretary Gina Lopez was hugely popular for her pro-environment stance, many of her orders were questioned for lack of legal and technical basis, or worse, for being diametrically opposed to the provisions of the Constitution, the Mining Act and other relevant issuances.

The new Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary, Roy Cimatu, is now faced with the unenviable task of reviewing all these orders, particularly DENR Administrative Order No. 2017-10, which bans the open pit mining method, notwithstanding that it is allowed under the Mining Act.

Even a first year law student would know that, under our Constitution, it is Congress, or the legislative department, which exercises the power to make, alter, and repeal laws.

As a department under the executive branch, the DENR has no power or authority to issue regulations that contravene or amend existing laws. Nevertheless, that is what the previous dispensation at the DENR tried to do.

The President himself has sought to clarify his position on mining. Last week, he called representatives of various mining companies to Malacanang and acknowledged that, since there is a law allowing mining, "who am I to stop it?". He, however, reminded mining companies to follow the law and to protect the environment. He also admonished them to plant trees.

Interestingly, mining companies are among the most active tree planters in the country as they are required to have an Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program which includes not only plans relative to their mining operations, but also to rehabilitation, regeneration, revegetation and reforestation of mineralized areas, slope stabilization of mined-out and tailings covered areas, aquaculture, watershed development and water conservation, and socioeconomic development.

One company, Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) in Palawan, for example, has an award-winning reforestation program. Visitors to NAC's affiliate, Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation's site will readily see how previous mined areas, particularly a former open pit, were transformed into a forest by putting back the topsoil and planting it with trees.

The aforementioned meeting with the President, though very encouraging to the mining industry, was low-key and hardly reported in the news. The little that has been said in the media were based on statements made by the Senior Deputy Executive Secretary after the meeting. Though the President's calming statements after a year of tumult appear to have been downplayed, these are nevertheless a welcome development and a reminder to the industry that it must also police itself to ensure that only responsible miners are allowed to operate.

RP knocks down China, again!

First, it happened in the international court. Just last Wednesday, it happened again -- in the hard court.

But the second time around was sweeter. The Philippine victory was clearer, more convincing, and indisputably enforceable. In the opening game of the 2017 FIBA-Asia Cup, Gilas Pilipinas dealt China, FIBA defending champion, a stunning loss. Thanks to the heroics of Gilas standouts Romeo, Standhardinger, Castro, Wright, Pogoy, Almazan and Aguilar.

In the first round -- when the International Court ruled in favor of the Philippine claim on part of the West Philippine Sea -- the Philippines gained both a legal and moral victory.

Yet the victory has proved empty.

How do you enforce The Hague court's decision against a powerful nation which threatened war (in President Duterte's own words) in case we pursue our claim. Even the tough-talking President appeared, at least momentarily, to have backed down.

How about it? Daanin na lang natin kaya sa baskeball. Winner take all.

Most sought-after police chief

"Dirty" Jovie Espenido is reportedly the most sought-after (or "wanted", depending on one's point view) police chief nowadays.

After the Espinosa and Parojinog episodes, I have monitored news broadcasts where folks -- especially in places where drug cases are rampant -- are reportedly asking for Espenido's assignment.

But Espenido has already made known his first choice for his next assignment. He wants to be re-assigned to Iloilo City.

Interviewed by ANC's Karen Davila, Espenido bared his plans for Iloilo City. "Kausapin ko muna siya (referring to the city mayor)." Then, he will take it up from there.


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