MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Senate Scrutinizes Mining Act Next Week

Published by MAC on 2006-06-11
Source: Manila TImes

Senate scrutinizes Mining Act next week

Manila Times

11th June 2006

The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has invited three Cabinet members for the hearing of four proposed measures to review and repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

The committee, headed by Sen. Pia Cayetano, set the initial hearing on Tuesday in which Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes, Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila will be the main speakers.

Also invited were Romulo Neri, National Economic and Development Authority director general; Benjamin Philip Romualdez, Chamber of Mines president; Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines president; the lawyer Marvic Leonen of the Legal Rights and Resource Center; and Dr. Carlos Primo David of the UP National Institute for Geological Sciences.

It was not immediately known if the Cabinet secretaries would be allowed by Malacañan to attend the hearing. Early this week, officials of the Department of National Defense snubbed the Senate investigation into the alleged torture by military intelligence officers of five supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada, citing provisions of Executive Order 464.

The Cayetano committee will take up Senate Bill 2021 that she authored, Senate Bill 2205 of Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal and Senate Bill 295 of Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, which all calls to amend or repeal Republic Act 7942, the Philippine mining Act of 1995.

Cayetano, whose Senate Bill 488 seeks to review the status of the implementation of the law, will also be discussed. She said the hearing will also be timely since the public and environmental groups are awaiting for the government's decision on the mining operation of Lafayette Philippines Inc. on Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay.

Reyes said the government decision whether to allow resumption of mining of Lafayette, which caused two mine-tailing spills in October 2005, will be out by mid-June.

The fact-finding commission, headed by Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, formed to look into the mining disaster, has recommended to Malacañan to cancel the environmental compliance certificate of the Australian-financed mining firm for violating several conditions of its certificate.

Cayetano insisted that mining companies like Lafayette must comply with environmental laws to prevent disasters like mine-tailing spills and the government through the environment department should properly monitor their operations.

Ronnie E. Calumpita

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