Honasan seeks discussion on new mining EO's restrictions on LGUs

- Danny B. Dangcalan - The Philippine Star

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Concerns over the new mining policy’s restrictions on local government units should be discussed on the national level, according to Sen. Gregorio Honasan.

He was reacting to statements by Akbayan party-list Rep. Arlene Bag-ao that President Aquino’s Executive Order 79 disrespects the autonomy of local government units (LGUs) in deciding which mining operations should be allowed in their areas.

“That has to be threshed out at the national level between the executive and the legislative branches because these are serious and important inputs from the local governments. It’s the LGUs that are on the frontline, they know what the situation is,” Honasan said, adding that LGUs have to deal with problems like unemployment and environmental degradation.

He said concerns over EO 79 should be “communicated to the executive branch and Congress so we can decide on the proper intervention either by EO or by amendments to the law.”

Honasan said some provisions in the EO may be amended “only if necessary and if warranted.” But he stressed “we have to get all the information before we are able to make a decision.”

Bag-ao earlier said the EO failed to consider the sentiments of the people affected by mining operations.

Bag-ao cited Section 12 of the EO, which instructs LGUs that the exercise of their powers and functions must be consistent and in conformity with the regulations, decisions and policies already promulgated by the national government.

Bag-ao noted that the EO is contradictory to the existing mining law, which states that a mining company must secure endorsement from the LGU that has jurisdiction over a mining site.

She said endorsements from LGUs are required under the law because they are the ones which can best determine areas suitable for mining, as well as mining operations’ impact on the environment.

Honasan said the principle that should be observed in regulating mining is “balancing our interests.”

“Mining is one of our primary revenue generating industries, aside from tourism, but in mining, we have to pay the price - the impact on environment,” he said.

“We cannot lose the potentials for employment, productivity, and for harnessing our God given natural-mineral resources, so we have to balance this and this is the job of our government,” Honasan said.      










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