Marcos seeks responsible mining; says forest cover 'can be monetized'

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2023 02:56 PM

 Marcos: Forest cover must remain

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Saturday reiterated the importance of properly implementing mining laws in the country, and vowed that environmental protection and the economy should be balanced when it comes to boosting the sector.

Speaking to reporters during the Philippine Military Academy's alumni homecoming in Baguio City, Marcos said his administration is "environment conscious." 

"It has been an important part of all our policies... we are moving the economy towards green technologies, we are moving our production of power towards renewables so in that regard, all our forest cover is important and must remain," Marcos said. 

Because the country's forest cover is a "valuable asset," he raised the idea of making it monetized without elaborating. 

"We can take advantage of being more active in promoting and monitoring, regulating, and encouraging the care of our forest cover, of all our environmental assets, it’s very, very important," he said. 

Data from the environment department showed that as of 2020, the Philippines has a total of 4,693,821 hectares of open forest formations or those covering high ground proportions. 

Closed forest formations, where a tree crown "exceeds 10 percent" of the ground, is pegged at 2,221,173 hectares. 

Mining, Marcos said, remains "an important" part of the economy but noted that "we do not want some of the incidents that we saw in the past few years to happen again." 

This was why enforcing the law on responsible mining "is what we will continue to do."

"We will always make sure that the mining companies who come in, once they are finished mining that they leave the site in the same condition as it was when they found it," he said. 

Marcos in November last year underscored the need for small-scale mining firms operating outside the bounds of law to start following relevant regulations for the sake of their workers.

Malacañang had said Marcos "may certify as urgent" some measures on small-scale mining, which includes amendments to RA 7076 "to incentivize" the sector and provide social assistance and labor protection to workers.