Secretary Roy A. Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has vowed to ensure that all mining companies, including small-scale miners, will take part in the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) in order to improve transparency and accountability in the mining sector.

“We will ensure strict compliance with our regulation on the participation of mining contractors in the PH-EITI, which is mandated under DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-07,” Cimatu said in speech read by DENR Undersecretary Annaliza Rebulta-Teh during the PH-EITI National Conference held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City last Wednesday.

PH-EITI is a multi-stakeholder group that pushes for the local implementation of EITI, a global standard of transparency for improving governance of natural resources, including their prudent use and the management of natural wealth for the benefit of all citizens.

It also serves as a platform to systematically report, review and assess the revenues received by the government from extractive industries through a system of bilateral disclosure.

PH-EITI is launching its Fourth Country Report, an enhanced version of the previous reports with the inclusion of large-scale non-metallic mining projects. The latest report presents updates on developments that affect the mining, oil, and gas, and coal industries in the country, and provides a broad picture of the legal framework and governance mechanisms for extractive industries.

Cimatu said that mining companies must comply with the disclosure requirements of PH-EITI. Otherwise, they will not be issued Ore Transport and/or Mineral Export Permit and their Environmental Compliance Certificates or ECCs will be suspended.

At the same time, Cimatu underscored the need for future PH-EITI reports to be fully comprehensive by including the small-scale mining sector which, although small in scale, comprises thousands of workers and their families.

“Ultimately, they also contribute a sizeable share to the economy, especially in the local front,” he pointed out. “Let us work towards the inclusion of the small-scale mining sector in this initiative.”

Cimatu is also seeking greater participation by all stakeholders in the next PH-EITI report to be able to gauge more accurately the benefits against the costs of natural resources development. “This will ensure the concrete valuation of our resources, including environmental goods and services,” Cimatu said.

“Eventually, this will result in higher payments to the government in the form of taxes, royalties and fees,” he added.

The DENR chief also took the opportunity to disclose some of the plans of the agency towards improved transparency and accountability in extractive industries.

Policy-wise, he said, the DENR will continue to ensure that the development of the country’s natural resources redounds to the benefit of the people, especially in the impact areas.

“Towards this end, we will propose and support regulations that will increase the share of local government units in mining taxes, including making certain its timely release, to enable the local government to implement projects that will improve the living conditions in mining communities,” Cimatu said.

He added: “We will also declare high-mineral potential areas as mineral reservations, and monitor strictly the payment of royalties by mining companies operating therein. Further, we will promote the establishment of mineral processing plants in the country.”

Under DAO 2017-07, mining firms are mandated to submit the necessary requirements to the multi-sectoral group of PH-EITI, which is composed of representatives from government, civil society and industries.

The administrative order is pursuant to a constitutional provision on upholding social justice and the common good. It also cited provisions in the Constitution pertaining to the people’s right to information on public concern and right to a “healthful ecology with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

The directive is also pursuant to Executive Order No. 79 issued by the previous administration that seeks to institutionalize and implement reforms in the mining sector.

Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79 provides that the “DENR is mandated to ensure that mechanisms are established to operationalize the EITI in the mining sector, in consultation and coordination with the mining industry and other concerned stakeholders.” | DENR.GOV.PH