Friday Nov, 22 2019 11:34:45 AM

MGB-12: Sagittarius mining project likely to push through

Climate Change/Environment • 15:45 PM Mon Oct 21, 2019
Wilnard Bacelonia
Photos courtesy of Saguittarius Mines.

KORONADAL CITY - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 12 is confident that the Tampakan Mining Project in South Cotabato will proceed with the approval of Malacañan.

Engr. Felizardo A. Gacad, Jr, MGB-12 regional director, revealed in an interview with Radyo Bida, a local radio station here, that there is already a timeline on the reactivation of the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated's (SMI) Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

"As of the latest, there is already a timeline for the lifting of the suspension of the ECC because the office of the president has already decided to that effect," he said.

SMI's ECC was revoked when President Rodrigo Duterte decided to impose a country-wide ban on open-pit mining as recommended by the late and former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez.

However, MGB-12 is still eyeing to have more dialogues with the South Cotabato Provincial Government and even the localities to amend the province's environment code that is set to be reviewed by the provincial council next year.

"There are instances that local ordinances go against our national laws. We, in DENR, believe that national laws should prevail. We are treating the existing Provincial Environment Code as a challenge to pursue the Tampakan Mining Project. The FTAA of SMI was signed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines. We are just trying to say that why oppose?" Gacad added.

Under the supervision and control of DENR, MGB is in-charge of issuing permits to qualified mining companies and making sure that applicants comply with all the requirements necessary to be allowed to operate in mining areas in the country.

Pro and Anti

It can be recalled that together with the leaders of "Alyansa Tigil Mina," Marbel Bishop Cerilo Casicas has reiterated in a press conference here last month the diocese's opposition over the the USD5.9-billion gold and copper mining project in Tampakan town.

"We believe that mining can worsen the effects of global warming and climate change. We will continue to oppose any attempt to lift the ban on open-pit mining in any court or even in the provincial board," the prelate asserted.

Earlier this October, a group of pro-mining advocates from Tampakan town assemble infront of the Hall of Justice here asking the government to proceed with the mining project.

Provincial Environment Code

Meanwhile, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. approves any kind of mining activity in the province as long as its "responsible" and in accordance with the existing laws.

However, he guarantees that if there is any request to review the Provincial Environment Code, it will not be coming from him.

"I have mentioned during the campaign that I will not request the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) from any ammendment in our environmental code. It's up to them if they will ammend it. As an executive, I can only execute the law," he assured.

For their part, the South Cotabato Provincial Board also expressed its uncertainty over the issue.

As the Provincial Board's presiding officer, South Cotabato Vice-Governor Vicente de Jesus noted that they are waiting for the executive department to request for the Provincial Environment Code's ammendment.

"I think they are planning to request us to review it and we are open for any possiblity," he said.

SMI have filed a case against the South Cotabato Provincial Board earlier for allegedly superseding The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 by issuing a resolution dissallowing open-pit mining in the province.

As reported by Lilybeth Ison to PNA, the Tampakan Mining Project was also mentioned by DENR Undersecretary for Climate Change and Mining Concerns Analiza Teh as one of five mining projects that are expected to boost growth of the country's mining sector and are "yet to be completely realized."

"Our goal now is how to maximize this potential to boost growth without compromising the protection of the environment and ensuring the sustainability of mining practices," Teh said in her keynote speech Tuesday at the opening of the three-day Mining Conference held at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City.

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