House panel tackles amendments on small-scale mining law

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2021 10:50 PM

MANILA - The House Committee on Natural Resources initially deliberated Wednesday House Bill 5784, authored by Agusan del Sur Rep. Eddiebong Plaza, which seeks to modernize and empower the small-scale mining industry by amending Republic Act 7076 or the “People’s Small-scale Mining Act.” 

In the explanatory note of the bill, Plaza said that amending the 30-year-old law would open up growth and development in the countryside, particularly in the uplands and ancestral domain of the Indigenous Peoples (IP).

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. who chairs the committee also requested for local government groups to participate in the next hearing to shed their opinion on the measure.

Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate requested to get data from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on a list of all small-scale mining companies in the country.

Zarate fears several large-scale mining companies may be registering as small-scale miners to circumvent the law.

The panel also approved House Bills 4088 filed by Deputy Speaker Rose Marie Arenas, and 8039 by Deputy Speaker Henry Oaminal. 

HB 4088 aims to reclassify the Mangabul Reservation in Bayambang, Pangasinan into an alienable and disposable land of the public domain. 

It also aims to distribute the land ownership to bona fide and long-term farmers. Meanwhile, HB 8039 aims to declare lands in Don Victoriano, Misamis Occidental as alienable and disposable lands open to disposition for agricultural, commercial, residential, and industrial, as well as for other productive purposes. 

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