PBBM tells DENR to watchsmall-scale mining closely

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CONCERNED over the mounting fatalities in small-scale mining, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. is now pushing for measures to regulate the said activity.

During his meeting with officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday, Marcos said he wants to prevent further deaths in small-scale mining through government regulation and support.

“We want to legalize small-scale mining firms since many of them are illegal so their miners have no protection. We want to strengthen the regulatory framework so they can operate legally and their miners are given assistance and protection in their work,” said Marcos in Filipino while addressing DENR officials.

A strong regulatory framework, he said, can provide small-scale mining firms access to financing at the same time give their workers social protection coverage.

“I think for now the need is for the regulatory capabilities, especially the small scale,” Marcos said.

To facilitate such reforms, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) said the President may consider certifying as urgent the proposed legislation, which will amend Republic Act 7076 or the Act Creating A People’s Small-Scale Mining Program.

It noted the amendment may cover the inclusion of a provision which will provide small-scale miners “social assistance and labor protection as well as government assistance programs.”

The DENR has already committed to review existing mining laws to help in modernizing the mining industry through new technology and better standards.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has been lobbying for the regulation of small-scale mining following the deaths of miners engaged in the said activity in Benguet in 2018 and Agusan Del Sur in 2019.

ATM reaction

Meanwhile, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) welcomed Marcos’s directive to the DENR to strengthen its regulatory powers over mining projects.  Both mining laws that regulate small-scale and large-scale mining are outdated and not designed to ensure safety of small-scale miners nor respond to the challenges of climate change or impacts, it said.

“We hope that Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga will consider publicly supporting the proposed Alternative Minerals Management Bill [AMMB] in Congress, as a starting point to crafting new policies in mining at the DENR.

“Our alliance is also recommending that DENR consult local governments and indigenous communities to help identify policy reforms in effectively managing the country’s mineral resources.  It is important that DENR ensure that Filipinos benefit from minerals and that mining does not displace affected communities or bring additional environmental and social problems with their operations,” ATM said.