Lito Atienza's Blog

DUE PROCESS IS A REQUIREMENT OF GOOD GOVERNANCE – SECRETARY LITO ATIENZA | November 26, 2009

Department Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza (right) calls on mining operators to ensure that host communities get their fair share from their mining operations during the opening of the Mining Philippines 2009 Conference and Exhibition at the Sofitel Plaza Hotel in Pasay City. Listening on are (seated, from left): Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) chairman Artemio F. Disini, Vice President Noli de Castro and CMP president Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez. The 2-day mining conference, which has for its theme, “Strengthening Competitiveness,” was attended by the Philippine mining industry’s senior officials, industry financiers and investors, government policy makers, regulatory authorities, decision makers and top executives from the government and the mining industry.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources presents its position on the Intex Mining Project in Mindoro regarding the following issues raised in earlier paid newspaper advertisements and subject also of an ongoing sit-in demonstration in front of the DENR premises:

THE RECOGNITION OF THE LGU’s MORATORIUM ON MINING.
The DENR recognizes the moratorium, but this is a separate issue. Based on Presidential Decree 1586, Establishing the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System, the DENR, through the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), is mandated to assess the environmental impacts of an environmentally-critical project and prescribe mitigating measures to address these pre-defined impacts, regardless of any existing moratorium.

The DENR stresses: a) The ECC is only a planning tool and not a permit. It is supposed to guide the LGUs and other concerned agencies in the issuance of their permits; and b) The LGU is responsible for upholding the local moratorium.

THE FAILURE OF INTEX RESOURCES TO CONDUCT GENUINE CONSULTATIONS IN THE AFFECTED COMMUNITIES.
DENR officials claim that they conducted public hearings in the municipalities of Pola and Mamburao, while Intex Resources conducted consultations and public scoping sessions in the areas of Calapan, San Teodoro, Victoria, Pola, and Sablayan, where the affected communities are located. These consultations/hearings were conducted to generate environmental concerns of the community, not social acceptability.

THE STEADFAST REFUSAL OF LGUs TO ALLOW THE ENTRY OF INTEX RESOURCES IN THEIR AREAS.
The DENR respects the position of the LGUs on this matter. The DENR, however, must continue to act according to its mandate.

THE SUSTAINED REJECTION AND WITHHOLDING OF CONSENT OF THE LEGITIMATE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE TO BE AFFECTED BY THE MINING OPERATION.
The immediate indigenous peoples such as the Mangyan tribes belonging to the Samahang Apo Diya Kakuyayan Inc. (SADAKI) and the Kanluran Mindoro at Kabilugan ng Mangyan Inc. (KMI), who occupy the actual concession area in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro and Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, claim they gave their consent to the mining project. They also attest that a series of consultations were undertaken by the mining company.

THE MINING AREA IS LOCATED WITHIN A WATERSHED .According to those who recommended the issuance of the ECC, the mining project is located 25 kilometers from FB Harrison Bird Sanctuary and 36 kilometers from Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park, and thus outside the proclaimed protected/watershed areas.

THE FAILURE TO CONSIDER EIA REVIEW COMMITTEE VOTE.
The DENR internal review team took careful note of the recommendations of the EIA Review Committee and incorporated these into the contents of the final ECC. However, per Administrative Order 42, the EIA Review Committee acts only on a recommendatory basis. The final decision to issue an ECC lies with the DENR based on a technical and factual evaluation and not – and has never been done – based on votes by Review Committee members.

THE ISSUANCE OF A SUSPENSION FOR 90 DAYS, INSTEAD OF A CANCELLATION.
The ECC given to Intex Resources was suspended for 90 days to allow the DENR to conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations that the mining project is located within a watershed area and that inadequate local consultations were made. The purpose of the suspension, therefore, is to comply with the requirements of due process by giving parties time to submit evidence to support the allegations.

If indeed there was malice in the issuance of the ECC, the DENR will not only cancel the ECC, but will also hold liable accountable employees who may have violated the process.

In fact, the bishops and governors present during our recent dialogue have been invited to join the investigating panel.

The revocation of the ECC should only come after a thorough investigation is done and documents presented are studied impartially by the investigation panel.

Without due process, justice cannot be served. The possible prosecution of malicious and erring DENR employees and the eventual cancellation of the ECC have to be supported by facts, not by mere allegations. Otherwise, our decision may not even be sustained in a court of law.

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