MANILA - Has the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) begun to support destructive mining?
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas asked the agency early Thursday if by finally allowing the firms to operate, the department was turning its back on its previous stance regarding their mining practices.
Citing an example in Cagayan, she said a number of the companies were rejected by affected communities for mining without consulting residents.
“Karamihan sa in-approve ng DENR ay may background sa destructive mining, kaya may sapat na dahilan para ipasara ang mga companies na ito,” Brosas said during a budget hearing.
“Hindi ba dapat ang prayoridad ay mapanagot?”
DENR budget sponsor Rep. Teodorcio Haresco Jr. of Aklan said the 26 companies had already complied with its environmental requirements.
“Upon the strict assessment these mining companies have complied with the requirements,” Haresco said.
“Nagbayad na po sila ng penalty, nag-comply na po sila, at mino-monitor sila to avoid this kind of destructive mining in our country.”
The DENR said it was currently upholding its policy against open-pit mining while also reassessing it.
“Right now it’s still being evaluated, but for now it’s canceled,” Haresco said.
This after Brosas brought up the Tampakan mine of Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Southern Mindanao, which she said affected 5,000 indigenous peoples.
The agency said the permit given to the company was merely exploratory and not for a full mining operation, especially since negotiation with the community was ongoing.
Lawmakers also tackled the controversial dolomite white sand beach project during the hearing.
Lawmakers also said the agency should continue to look into the natural effects of land reclamation in Bulacan for the Aerotropolis Airport City project.
Haresco said the clearance given to the project for now was merely for land development. Constructing the actual airport would require another environmental clearance.