The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 expresses support on the signing of the Executive Order (EO) 79 as it tries to balance important concerns on mining development in reinforcing environmental protection measures, promoting responsible mining, providing a more equitable revenue-sharing scheme, and providing coordinative mechanisms among stakeholders including local government units (LGUs).

MGB 7 Regional Director Loreto B. Alburo said this presidential directive sets the direction on how potential mining investors should conduct themselves when they go into mining here as it requires more transparency and accountability in every step towards acquiring a mining right and even beyond.

The EO cites three additional areas as “no-mining” zones on top of the six areas expressly enumerated under Section 19 of Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Further, the EO supports the move of DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje on the suspension of issuance of new mining permits as it awaits a legislation rationalizing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms.

He further added that the review of the performance of existing mining operations cleansing of non-moving mining rights holders to be led by a multi-stakeholder team is also a major step towards ensuring that stringent environmental parameters are complied with.

To improve small-scale mining operations, the EO outlines steps to ensure that activities comply with the Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 and the Environmental Impact Statement requirements spelled out in Presidential Decree No. 1586. Specifically, the law designates Minahang Bayan or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Areas, and mandates the creation and operation of Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Boards.

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), co-chaired by the head of the Cabinet clusters on climate change adaptation and mitigation, and economic development, is tasked, among others, to conduct assessment and review of all mining-related laws, rules and regulations, issuances and agreements toward the formulation of recommendations for better coordination between the national government and LGUs.

He further added that an implementing rules and regulations (IRR) will be issued by the DENR working with the MICC within 60 days.

Additionally, the MICC shall launch campaigns against illegal mining, serve as oversight committee over the operations of the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Boards, monitor the implementation of mining laws and regulate small-scale mining participants, who are equally accountable to the same environmental and social obligations as large-scale mining companies. 

Meanwhile, in Central Visayas, there are nine operating mines and quarries with a total area covered of 10,039.8923 hectares.  Of the nine, six are in Cebu and one each for Negros Oriental, Siquijor and Bohol.

As to the operationalization of Provincial or City Mining Regulatory Boards (P/CMRBs), five are now established in Cebu City, and the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.

To recall, President Aquino III signed EO 79 or institutionalizing and implementing reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, providing policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in the utilization of mineral resources, on July 6 which was officially released on July 9. 

“Our commitment is to realize the vision of the industry as we subscribe to  the core requirements of sustainable development for the protection and rehabilitation of the environment; promotion of social and community stability; preservation of options for future generations; and competitive and prosperous mining industry in partnership with the various stakeholders,” he said.