FILE PHOTO: DENR Sec. Gina Lopez
During the inquiry by the House committee on government and public accountability, lawmakers questioned the basis of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for ordering the closure of some mining companies in the country.
It was revealed during a House inquiry that the second technical review committee, led by Mines and Geosciences Bureau Acting Assistant Secretary Danilo Uykieng, had never issued recommendations to close down mining companies that had undergone their review.
The said committee just recommended the suspension, implementation of mitigating measures and imposition of fines to some mining firms found to have violated existing laws on mining.
Uykieng said it was DENR Secretary Gina Lopez’s decision to order the closure of 23 mining firms.
Some lawmakers also questioned the basis of the DENR secretary for ordering the said closure.
“The ordering of closure is not an objective but it was more a subjective view of Secretary Lopez,” Representative Johnny Pimentel said.
Surigao Del Norte Representative Robert Barbers stated that “There remains no transparent audit report on what happened to the closed 23 mining companies at 75 canceled MPSA’s.”
The Surigao del Norte representative further said many Filipinos depend on mining for livelihood. This is why the lawmaker noted that many will lose their jobs because of DENR’s move.
However, DENR consultant and former MGB Chief Leo Jasareno claims the agency underwent the right process in conducting the mining audit.
“I have Mr. Chairman the photocopy of the letters that the secretary sent to the mining companies forwarding the copy of audit, and given 7 days to submit their comments,” the DENR consultant said.
Despite the mining closure, Jasareno noted, that it’s also in Secretary Lopez’s position that mining companies have the right to appeal the action of the agency.
He added that the final decision on the said move still rests on President Rodrigo Duterte. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue
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