The Alliance of Responsible Miners in Region XI (ARMOR) lamented Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez’ order to cancel 75 mining contracts in line with her intensified campaign to stop extraction of resources in sensitive areas across the country.
The order released on February 14 was dubbed by Lopez as “gift of love” to the Filipino people in reference to the cancellation of mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) with mining companies.
Speaking during the Habi at Kape media forum at Abreeza Mall, Davao City, ARMOR XI president Atty. Rodolfo Palma said the pronouncement was not a good Valentine’s gift to the companies nor to the hosting communities.
“For the mining companies, I think, what are waiting for are serving of these notices so that the mining companies can also evaluate the specific basis for the cancellation or issuance of such order,” he said.
Palma added that without which, the mining companies will be in “limbo” on what to do, adding that it is not right for the affected mining companies as of the moment to take immediate action upon receiving the notice.
Meanwhile, Mines and Geosciences Bureau chief Atty. Wilfredo Moncano said that it was a sad day for the industry because announcing to the media the abrogation of 75 MPSAs all over the country means “slowly, the industry is being killed”.
He further recalled the pronouncement of President Duterte on the direction of the country towards industrialization, stressing that mining is an important component of industrialization.
“It will really be a direction that is contradicting to the direction of the President,” said Moncano.
Palma reiterated that the companies should wait for the bases cited by DENR for the cancellation of MPSAs.
“Because as we all know, MPSA or mineral production sharing agreement has its own conditions that should be complied by the contractors between the government represented by DENR,” he said.
The ARMOR XI president further said one cannot just simply cancel an MPSA based on the reasons not provided by the contract nor by the law.
He added the order does not mean automatic closure of the company as contractors must first wait for the due process to be implemented as the mining companies will be given seven (7) days to reply to the notice.
“Whatever will be the decision, the companies can also appeal that to the President,” said Palma.
He added, unless the Office of the President has decided on the appeal, the companies can still continue their operation.
According to Moncano nine mining companies are affected by the order in Region XI, five in Davao Oriental, and four in Compostela Valley.
As far as ARMOR XI is concerned, three of their member companies are affected: NADECOR, APEX mining, King Eagle Exploration and Mining Corporation.
“Although these mining companies are still in the exploration stage, these mining companies are all in advanced exploration stage,” he said, citing NADECOR or Nationwide Development Corporation in Compostela Valley whose declaration of mining feasibility was already approved and ready to proceed with the construction and extraction.
He added, because of this pronouncement the mining companies will have difficulty securing their funding requirements from lending institutions which have signaled to back out from funding their operations.
He explained, even if these mining companies have secured all the documents needed to proceed for operation such as Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) and the approval from local government units, the pronouncement of DENR secretary prevented them to do so.
Since the mining companies are still in the exploration stage, according to Moncano, more than 400 people hired by NADECOR will be directly affected. However, if the closure will proceed, not only the employees but also the hosting communities will be affected.
Despite the DENR Secretary’s pronouncement, ARMOR XI is still confident that the president will still “stand by his word” that due process of law will be observed.