Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Davao City-The JCI Senate Philippines yesterday came out in the open and declared its support for responsible mining in the Philippines even as the Chamber of Mines disputed adverse claims that the country’s mining industry caused the degradation of some areas in Palawan.
“JCI is coming out in the open on its advocacy on responsible mining,” Zamboanga del Sur Governor and JCI Senate Philippines National President said during the JCI-sponsored Forum on Responsible Mining held at the Grand Menseng Hotel in Davao City.
The Forum attracted more than a thousand participants coming from various sectors of society including the pro-mining, anti-mining, government, media, the academe and advocacy groups.
“The falling of the trees in Palawan is not due to mining but the continuing harvest of timber for domestic consumption and the conversion of forest land for agriculture development,” was the declaration made by Chamber of Mines of the Philippines Chairman Art Disini when he gave an overview of Philippine Mining.
Disini also blamed the continuous establishment of human settlements to accommodate the increasing population of the province (which has an annual growth rate of 3.5%) for the degradation of Palawan’s forests.
He also debunked claims made by non government agencies that mining will compete with Palawan’s agriculture saying that “rice and corn farming in Southern Palawan is not commercially feasible due to the lateritic soil” in the area. The high iron and nickel content of laterites, he added, made soil nutrient poor.
Disini said claims that the mining industry will have a great impact on Palawan’s tourism is not true since “the existing large scale mines in Palawan are too far away from the ecotourism sites to have any impact on tourism.” He said there are no large scale mining companies operating inside the key protected areas of Palawan.
Father Joel Tabora, President of the Ateneo de Davao University, however said that when one speaks of responsible mining, it should be discussed in relation to agriculture and this was not taken up during the Forum. Tabora, who said thousands of hectares of rice farms will be affected by mining because mining activities will affect the hydrology of the area. He also said that any mining forum should tackle its effects on the environment and on the indigenous people.
Chamber of Mines of the Philippines VP for Communications Rocky Dimaculangan said they believe that a mining company is deemed to have subscribed to environment protection once it has complied with the government requirements on Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Compliance Certificate, conducts reforestation project, conducts water quality monitoring and similar activities.
It can be recalled that the Ateneo also previously sponsored a mining summit which became controversial because it invited only pro-mining groups. Tabora however said that the Ateneo will continue to hold forums on mining in the future but will surely invite the Chamber of Mines.
The Department of Energy (DOE) conducted Thusday last week a public consultation in Davao City for the proposed new department circular appropriately titled “Renewable Energy Safety, Health and Environment Rules and Regulations (RESHERR)” which will hopefully be approved before the end of the year.
“The new circular, which is yet to be approved by the DOE Secretary, is part of DOE’s proactive stance in ensuring the safety of the operations of renewable energy sources,” Renewable Energy Management Bureau (REMB) Director Mario C. Marasigan said. There is an existing rules and regulation, he added, but it only covers geothermal energy so the proposed circular will expand on the sale law and will cover all renewable energy sources including hydro, geothermal, biomass, wind, solar and soon ocean energy.
Marasigan said this is a reminder to all those involved in the renewable energy industry to be ready for any eventuality or emergency that may challenge their operations in the long term. He said it is practical to update the old rules and regulations since geothermal used to be under a different bureau before, but is now placed under the jurisdiction of the REMB.
The proposed rules and regulations comes as a result of the enactment into law of Republic Act 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act in 2008. The new circular aims to “ensure the adequate safety and protection against hazards to health, life and property as well as pollution of air, land and water from Renewable Energy operations,” he added.
The final consultation is scheduled in Manila next week, after which a consolidation of all the concerns and consultation results will be made by the Bureau. After which, it will be submitted to the DOE secretary for approval. Once published, the new circular will have the force of law.
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