THE House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure that seeks to declare the third district of Palawan as a mining-free zone.
If House Bill 8816 is approved into law, all forms of mining operations and activities within the third district's jurisdiction will be prohibited.
The Third District of Palawan is composed of Puerto Princesa City and the municipality of Aborlan.
Representatives Gil Acosta (Palawan, Third District) and Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City, Second District) principally authored the bill.
In their measure, Acosta and Abellanosa said it is the government's policy to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
In the bill, the term "mining" refers to the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials, excluding quarrying of gravel, sand and marble. This shall include large-scale and small-scale mining activities involving exploration, feasibility, development, utilization and processing.
The measure proposed an imprisonment of six to 12 years and P1 million to P10 million fine as penalty for anyone who violates the law.
Any public officer who violates the Act shall also be dismissed from the service and perpetually disqualified from holding public office, the bill stated.
It added that if the violator is a juridical entity, the highest ranking official and the members of its board of directors or trustees who authorized the violations therein shall suffer the penalty imposed in the Act.
The bill mandates the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to formulate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act.
Acosta said the third district of Palawan vaunts of a mantel of rainforest, magnificent mountains, prehistoric caves, pristine dive sites and beaches. Its virgin forests are also rich in minerals such as mercury, copper and nickel, all of which are sought after by miners, he added.
“Mining in the third district of Palawan is said to have destroyed forests and caused siltation of water sources. While mining provides job opportunities for some, the degree of damage to the earth, on the livelihood of farmers, and the Palawenos' general well-being, has become exceptionally alarming. Thus, in order to protect and preserve the natural environment of the third district of Palawan, immediate passage of the bill is earnestly sought,” said Acosta. (PR/SunStar Philippines)