During the 2023 Mining Philippines International Conference last September, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Carlos Primo David said the DENR is dead-set on transforming mining into a more responsible and globally competitive industry that best upholds environmental laws and mining regulations while minimizing environmental risks and promoting mine safety.
David revealed at the conference hosted by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) that the DENR has pilot-tested and is working on implementing next year a new partnership between the government and the miners called the Negotiated Sustainability and Resilience Agreement (NSRA) anchored on shared goals in reducing environmental impacts and host-community resilience, among others.
COMP Chairman Michael Toledo announced at the same conference that members of the chamber have been laying the groundwork for further improving their environmental, social, and governance or ESG performance through the TSM (Toward Sustainable Mining) initiative pioneered by the Mining Association of Canada. However, the parallel goals of the national government and the private sector to produce minerals and metals in the most responsible way will never gain traction without the full support of local government units (LGU), particularly those whose communities host the mine sites.
Eastern Samar province is a classic example of how a provincial LGU can take decisive steps to ensure that corporations abide by the provisions of their state-issued Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) despite the absence of any regulatory power over miners under Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone has ordered a comprehensive review of the performance and compliance of miners operating in historic Homonhon Island off the coast of Guiuan municipality. At a recent dialogue held at the provincial capitol in Borongan City, he warned them that he would formally ask the DENR to suspend or cancel their MPSAs should the ongoing audit prove that they have violated provisions of pertinent environmental and labor laws.
Rather than parrot the rants of anti-mining protesters, Evardone made a fine distinction between destructive and responsible mining. He has taken aggressive steps ensuring that DENR-authorized miners in Eastern Samar will engage in the best ESG practices for the benefit of current and future generation – or else risk the suspension or revocation of their MPSAs by the DENR’s Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Present at the dialogue were officials of Hinatuan Mining Corp., which has a mining concession at Manicani Island in Guiuan, though it has yet to resume operations. Evardone pointed out that Hinatuan Mining has been complying fully with its obligations to the national, provincial, and municipal governments.
In fact, he and MGB Regional Director Glenn Marcelo Noble suggested to other miners that they follow Hinatuan’s example in using the template of the Bureau of Local Government Finance in the submission of their accurate sworn declaration on all equipment and machinery that they actually have in their mine sites.
Ever since mining started in Eastern Samar 40 years ago, the province has not received its share of excise taxes on the production and sale of extracted minerals, which is collected by the national government through the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Under the Local Government Code, LGUs are granted a 40 percent share of the collected excise taxes.
Through Evardone’s intercession, Eastern Samar will hopefully receive its excise tax share by 2024. He is bent on collecting the taxes due from all miners because for him, “the due share of LGUs is a big help to realize development projects such as road concreting, water supply, and school buildings.” With this trailblazing and eco-friendly leader at its helm, Eastern Samar will soon reap the harvest of sustainable and responsible mining practices that should be emulated by other LGUs in the country.
That is the theme of the 16th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards, an annual competition sponsored by PMFTC Inc. This year’s edition highlights the new technologies that could improve the livelihood of agricultural workers nationwide.
At the awarding ceremonies last night in Fairmont Hotel Makati, trophies and prizes were bestowed on the following winners: Henry Empeño, Agriculture Story of the Year; Cai Ordinario, Jovee de la Cruz, and Jovy Rodriguez, Best Feature Story (National); Genory Alfasain, Best Feature Story (Regional); Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Best News Story (National); Erwin Nicavera, Best News Story (Regional); Shyla Francisco, Best TV Story; Zhander Cayabyab, Best Radio Story; Rhoy Cobilla, Agriculture Photo of the Year; Wilfredo Lomibao, Tobacco Photo of the Year; Bong Sarmiento, Best Tobacco Story; Jervis Manahan, Best Online Story; and Cristina Baclig, Best Tobacco Product Alternatives Story.
Since 2007, Bright Leaf has exemplified the best reportage and images in Philippine agri-journalism – setting the bar and serving as a beacon of inspiration for new and returning journalists across the nation.
J. Albert Gamboa is a Life Member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) and Vice-Chair of the FINEX Ethics Committee. The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin. #FinexPhils www.finex.org.ph