Solon: EO 79 clips LGUs power to regulate mining operations

A FARMER lawmaker said President Benigno Aquino clip the powers of the local government units to regulate destructive mining operations in their respective areas under the newly signed Executive Order 79.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano issued the statement after Aquino officially release the newly signed EO on mining.

Aquino’s creation of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) that will serve as an oversight committee over the operations of provincial/city mining regulatory boards in effect clipped LGUs power, Mariano said.

“The Executive is abusing its authority by effectively clipping the powers of LGUs to regulate plunderous mining operations in their respective areas through the creation of the MICC composed of the economic and environment clusters that will serve as an oversight committee over the operations of provincial/city mining regulatory boards,” Mariano said.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, earlier warned  that at least 40 anti-mining governors would challenge before the Supreme Court the Aquino administration’s mining policy upon its signing by President Aquino.

Salceda said local government executives would oppose the mining policy because it put them in an adversarial position to the national government. It would also dismiss their autonomy and independence in favor of national laws and regulations on the mining industry.

Kalikasan Partylist  vowed to challenged the EO and the Mining Act of 1995 at the Supreme Court and expressed its support for the move of Catholic bishops calling for a moratorium on the implementation of the new EO on  mining.

Mariano  said EO 79 on mining will only strengthen the domination of large-scale foreign corporations in the mining industry and will further disadvantage stakeholders including indigenous peoples, farmers and fisherfolks affected by massive land grabbing and displacement in areas with large-scale mining operations throughout the country.

“The issuance of EO 79 is a win-win situation only for the Chamber of Mines and a bane for the Filipino people,” Mariano said.

“This all-powerful EO on mining will result to further plunder of our natural resources, land grabbing and displacement of indigenous peoples, farmers and fisherfolks,” Mariano said. .

“Through EO 79, Aquino is giving false hopes of economic development through mining and empty promises of environment protection while allowing the wholesale plunder of our natural resources by large-scale local and foreign mining firms,” said Mariano.

“While appearing to impose a complete mining ban on selected areas, establishment of mining reservations and non-issuance of new mining permits, the EO reaffirms existing mining contracts, agreements, and concessions as stated in Sections 1 and 5 of the order,” said Mariano further citing that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will also allow the renegotiation of exploration permits and will give the right of first option to mining companies with existing permits and agreements as stated in Section 4.

Aquino’s EO 79 will expand areas close to mining or so-called ‘no go zones’ that will impose complete mining ban in 78 tourism destinations, prime agricultural lands and fisheries zones and other critical areas.

In effect, the EO exempts existing 300 mining contracts, 30 of which are operational. Non-prime agricultural lands and lands exempted by RA 6657 or CARPer will   be virtual ‘free for all zones’ for mining companies,” Mariano said

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