Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) – Senator Leila de Lima has tabled a resolution calling for an investigation into the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) decision last month to lift the four-year ban on surface mining.
In the draft resolution, a copy of which was released to the media on Sunday, De Lima urged the Senate to assess the DENR’s decision, which she called “possibly catastrophic” for the environment and human life.
“There is a need for a thorough review of this policy decision, as it has the potential to reopen the country to irresponsible mining practices that could further compromise the environment and pose health and safety risks to people and their communities. “said the senator. .
On December 23, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu signed an administrative order authorizing surface mining of copper, gold, silver and complex minerals in the country. The department said it will help reinvigorate the mining industry and provide job opportunities in rural areas amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But De Lima said the government must explore other means of generating wealth, as she noted that the mining technique has caused a number of serious accidents in the country.
She recalled the Marcopper mining disaster in Marinduque in 1996, where the release of toxic mine waste from a fracture in the pit’s drainage tunnel led to contamination of the Boac River and flash flooding that displaced more than 4,000 people.
To this day, the municipalities of Boac and Mogpog are still reeling from the environmental damage caused by the incident. De Lima added that there were at least five other mining disasters that followed, showing that the country “has not yet figured out how to systematically extract mineral resources in a safe and efficient way”.
“When gains and risks are placed on a scale, the state must always err on the side of caution,” she also said.