KORONADAL CITY – Representative Daisy Avance-Fuentes said she plans to deliver a privilege speech in the House of Representatives in a bid to push the Provincial Government of South Cotabato to implement the environment code.

Fuentes told reporters here last week she might deliver her privilege speech in two weeks involving the environment code to give it a national limelight.

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The solon, who was former South Cotabato governor, signed the controversial environment code that bans open-pit mining a day before she stepped down on June 30.

Her successor, Governor Arthur Y. Pingoy Jr. initially reacted after the signing of the code, saying he will seek a review to determine its constitutionality, but is now apparently singing a new tune.

"We will implement the code and will have it reviewed if questioned [by any party]," Pingoy said in a radio interview last week.

There maybe no need to have the environment code published in a local newspaper, he added, at the same time saying he's asking for legal opinions about the matter.

According to the code, its publication is a requisite for it to become operative. Section 179 or the effectivity clause of the code states: "This Code shall take effect 15 days following the posting requirements and after its full publication compliance for three consecutive issues in a local newspaper of general circulation within the Province of South Cotabato, whichever occurs later."

Tampakan Mayor Relly A. Leysa said he will propose the adoption of the environment code by the town's legislative body once he obtains an official copy of the code or when it is already implemented.

"Even if we [Tampakan Municipal Council] won't adopt the code, we will still be covered by it since its effect is province-wide," Leysa said.

Leysa said he will file the proposal before the Municipal Council in consistency with his stand as former Provincial Board member.

He used to sit as ex-officio member, having been the president of the province's councilors' league, in the previous Provincial Board that approved the code.

Leysa said he had voted for the code's approval because of the lack of technical studies explaining the Tampakan project's impact to the environment and water resources in the area.

The $5.2 billion Tampakan project is pursued by Sagittarius Mines Inc., which is controlled by Xstrata Copper, the world's fourth largest copper producer, and targeted for commercial operation by 2016.

John B. Arnaldo, Sagittarius Mines corporate communications manager, has said that a local law cannot supersede a national law, referring to Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which does not prohibit open-pit method.

President Benigno Aquino III, for his part, alarmed by the environment code's risk to Sagittarius Mines' massive investment, has ordered the seeking of a compromise deal between the parties involved. (Bong S. Sarmiento)