BAGUIO CITY – The House of Representatives committee on natural resources will be conducting a public hearing on the impact of mining in the country, its contribution to revenues of local government units and the national government and economic and social development on March 9, 2017, 1-5 pm, at the Baguio City multipurpose hall.
The committee hearing was an offshoot of House Resolution No. 72 entitled “Resolution Directing the Committee on Natural Resources, The Committee on Ecology, the Committee on Health, the Committee on Agriculture, the Committee on National Cultural Communities and the Committee on Local Government to Conduct a Joint Investigation in Aid of Legislation, on the Impact of Mining in the Country, its Effects to the Environment, Agriculture, the Health of the Public, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its Contribution to Revenues of Local government Units and the National Government and Economic and Social Development, and to Introduce Reform Measures that will Effectively Address the Weaknesses, Shortcomings and Failures of the Mining Act of 1995 and all other Mining Related Laws, Rules, Regulations and Issuances and the Insufficiency or Absence of Institutional Mechanisms for Effective Evaluation and Strict Regulation of Mining Operations in the Country.”
Concerned mining stakeholders, anti-mining advocates, local officials among other sectors were invited by the House committee on natural resources to provide vital inputs attendant to the said House Resolution to serve as the basis of the committee in formulating a comprehensive report on how to act on the said issues.
Mining has been placed in a limelight after Environment Secretary Regina Lopez ordered the conduct of an audit of all mining companies that subsequently resulted to the issuance of an order for the closure of 23 mining companies operating in the different parts of the country for their various violations related to the damage inflicted by the mining operations to the state of the environment in their respective areas of operation.
However, the affected mining companies that were given suspension and closure orders questioned the basis of Secretary Lopez in ordering their suspension or closure, citing that their operations have adhered to the standards of mining operations enshrined under existing laws, rules and regulations.
The country has over 9 million hectares of mineralized areas but only 1.5 percent of the said areas are being actually exploited that is why the contribution of mining to the country’s overall economic situation is negligible.
While it is true that the contribution of mining to the country’s economy is negligible, mining stakeholders cited the effects of mining should be viewed on a localized level wherein its contributions to the employment of qualified individuals in the host and neighboring communities and the sources of livelihood of people as well as the socio-economic development in the concerned local governments should be taken into consideration so that the contributions of mining will be appreciated.