MGB: No need to declare ‘mining-free zones’

October 5, 2017 at 10:58

MGB: No need to declare ‘mining-free zones’

By Madelaine B. Miraflor | Updated 


Even if Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu already said that he will evaluate pending measures in Congress seeking to declare certain areas in the country “mining-free zones,” Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) just doesn’t see the need for these additional laws.

MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano is convinced that Philippine Mining Act has been there since 1995 for the same purpose — to determine whether or not a mining project is allowed or not in certain areas.

“There is a Constitution and a law that allows mining. The same also provides a requirement in the processing of a mining application for the acceptance and endorsement coming from the Sanggunian (Barangay, Bayan, and Lalawigan) of a mining project,” Moncano said in an interview.

“If the Sanggunian cited does not favorably endorse the project, the mining application will not be approved because it lacks the social acceptability,” he added.

Moncano also noted that there is a requirement for a mining applicant to undergo the Free and Prior Informed Consent process of the Indigenous People (IP).

“If the IP community does not support the mining project by not giving its consent, then the project does not push through. So, there is really no need for a new law to declare their area mining free because the existing law has adequate provisions for it,” he stressed.

Cimatu earlier said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will evaluate pending House bills that seek to declare some provinces as mining-free areas, which was raised by Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Almario during one of the Commission on Appointment’s (CA) hearings on the DENR chief’s confirmation.

“There are some highly mineralized areas that are proclaimed and these are now in placed but if there are some bills that (want to counter it), this will be properly evaluated,” Cimatu said.

In January, the House of Representatives gave the green light to House Bills (HB) 3166 and HB 872 declaring Davao City and Biliran province as mining-free zones.

But in a separate interview, MGB Assistant Director Danilo Uykieng said that right now, there is still no area in the country that have been formally declared as mining free zones.

This, as all proposed bills are not yet approved by both Congress and Senate.

According to him, even with Congress’ approval, the senate would still have to consider these proposed bills.

In the meantime, IP groups in Benguet province are now urging the Congress to fast-track the passage of HB 4387 declaring Kibungan town as a mining-free zone.

Under HB 4387, it will be unlawful for any person to engage in any mining operation in the municipality of Kibungan, and any person found guilty of violating the provisions of the act will be penalized with an imprisonment of at least six years but not more than 12 years and a fine of at least P100,000 but not more than P500,000.

In 2015, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), composed of the country’s biggest mining companies, opposed the proposal to declare eight provinces as mining-free zones, namely Cagayan de Oro City, Catanduanes, Nueva Vizcaya, Eastern Samar, Nueva Ecija, Biliran, Davao City, and 2nd District of Sorsogon.

According to COMP, banning mining activities in these areas will set a bad precedent for the Philippine government.


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