Climate and Environment

Senator pushes for probe into mining, quarrying impacts

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Senator pushes for probe into mining, quarrying impacts
This photo taken on February 25, 2017 shows an aerial shot of the mining site of Cagdianao Mining Corporation (CMC) in Cagdianao town in Dinagat island.
AFP/Erwin Mascarinas

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros is seeking an investigation into the environmental and social impacts of mining and quarrying in the Philippines to address the reported adverse effects of these activities.

“The devastation and loss caused by mining and quarrying activities are distressing. Not only livelihoods are lost, but also the lives of our fellow countrymen,” Hontiveros said after filing Senate Resolution 989.

“The shortcomings in the law need to be addressed to put an end to these tragedies,” she added. 

The resolution cited the fatal landslide in a gold-mining village in Davao del Sur, and the increased flooding risk and water quality concerns on biodiversity-rich Sibuyan Island in Romblon. 

Concerns were also raised over the use of mined and dredged materials to support reclamation efforts along Manila Bay and Chinese island-building initiatives in the West Philippine Sea. 

Hontiveros added the detention of vessels crewed by workers from the People’s Republic of China engaged in dredging activities off Zambales and the alleged presence of Chinese dredging vessels in Maguindanao del Norte underscore the need for an investigation.

“The mining industry has not contributed significantly to economic development over the past 20 years while exposing host communities—including many indigenous cultural communities—to the adverse effects associated with mining activity, such as damage to critical ecosystems, reduced biodiversity, increased risk of landslides and other natural resources, and rising food insecurity,” the resolution read. 

Hontiveros’ resolution also sought to evaluate the regulatory framework of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), particularly the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Environmental Management Bureau. 

The government aims to revitalize the mining industry to attract investments and spur economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has lifted restrictive mining policies, including the ban on open-pit mining, and increased support for the industry by leading exploration activities to identify where critical minerals can be extracted. 

The Philippines is also aspiring to become a hub for minerals processing.

Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator Jaybee Garganera called the proposal a “step in the right direction, which would hopefully result in amending our laws and policies on mining and quarrying.”

Garganera recommended a dialogue between the affected communities, the DENR and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to address the concerns of mining-affected communities and determine the negative impacts of mining and quarrying operations. 

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