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Padilla rebuffs mining
“We are better off without mining,” said Governor Carlos M. Padilla during the orientation with mine audit team to assess the operations of Oceana Gold Philippines Incorporated (OGPI) with regards to the complaints of inhabitants of the area last August 4 at the Nueva Vizcaya Pasalubong Center.
“Umuunlad ang Nueva Vizcaya hindi dahil sa mining, but because of agriculture,” added Governor Padilla reiterating the strong perception of the present administration against mining.
Through the pronouncement of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on responsible mining, Memorandum Order No. 2016-01 was signed by Department of Environmental Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez ordering a comprehensive review of all operating mines and a suspension of applications of new mining projects.
The said audit will determine the efficiency and sufficiency of environmental protection measures of mining companies.
DENR Regional Technical Director Wilfredo Malvar said that the audit team will verify the compliance of mining companies to Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Sanitation Code of the Philippines and others related to the safety in the area and well-being among residents in the area.
The audit team will also identify gaps in environmental protection measures and determine appropriate penalties in case of violations of the mining and environmental laws.
To avoid unfair preference, the said audit team shall be composed of a representative from DENR central office, DENR regional office, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) third party experts and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).
According to Nemecio Beronilla, Senior Forest Management Specialist of DENR Central office and Team Leader of the audit team, representatives from MGB and EMB were from Region V, third party experts were from Department of Health (DOH) for the health concerns, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for water diversity concerns and Department of Agriculture (DA) for agricultural concerns while NGOs is represented by Reverend Father Enrique Tiongson.
Through the five day assessment in the area, the audit team will be testing the bodies of water in the area for possible water contamination; vibrations experienced due to explosions which result to crevices on the walls of houses around the mining area, air pollution and complaints that directly affect the lives of people in the area.
The Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Cooperative Association (DESAMA), an anti-mining group, is hoping for transparency and fairness in the process of the audit.
“Kasi minsan pagdating sa Oceana [OGPI], puro magaganda na ang resulta,” said a representative from DESAMA pertaining to earlier assessments of other groups on the mining area. “Gawin naman natin ang trabaho natin, bilang mga empleyado ng gobeyerno,” she added addressed to the audit team.
The team will also be conducting an exit conference to report the findings of the team with reagrds to the OGPI operations and will also be submitting a report to Secretary Lopez within one month from the receipt of the said memorandum. #krizel