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Cebu’s business chiefs: We are for responsible mining

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva February 19,2017 - 10:18 PM



Local traders support DENR’s Lopez’s actions against mining firms

Amid criticism thrown at Environment Secretary Gina Lopez for ordering the closure of several mining firms in the country and recently scrapping 75 mining deals as well as trade repercussions seen by the move, business leaders in Cebu stood behind her initiative.

Ted Locson Jr., Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) vice president for external affairs, said they support government programs that are aimed at protecting the environment as well as its natural resources.

“It is very important that all those mining firms that have been asked to be closed be given the opportunity to present their cases, if any. But if it is a question of the destruction of the environment, it is something that we should really look into,” Locson said in an interview.

Earlier this month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the closure of 23 mines mainly for ruining watershed areas and “indiscriminate mining.”

This week, Lopez stepped up her campaign to stop extraction of resources in sensitive areas by ordering the cancellation of 75 mining contracts known as mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) in watershed zones, many of which were still in the exploration stage.

Locson said that while chambers are for business, it has to be “good business.”

“We have always been for responsible mining and that means they should follow what is required,” he said.

In responsible mining, he said, companies should rehabilitate as they extract, but some firms get away with not doing as the law says.
Locson said that there are no mining firms among CCCI’s 700 member businesses.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has called Lopez’s actions “absurd” while the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines tagged the cancellation of mining contracts “irresponsible” due to the lack of due process.

Even the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry agreed with its president George Barcelon, saying there should also be due process for mining firms in the country.

Lopez, on the other hand, said it was within her discretion “to decide on the resources of the country.”

Last Friday, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) echoed the plea of affected stakeholders, saying that the DENR’s move will have “serious local and global trade repercussions.”

In a statement, Philexport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said Lopez’s actions pose a danger not just to the mining sector, but also to other sectors in the supply chain such as drilling, constructing, hauling and shipping, processing companies, as well as manpower and transportation service providers.

Cebuano business leaders, however, stood by their sentiments despite strong opposition from other business leaders from all over the country.

Glenn Soco, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president, for his part, said he trusts that there was a process that led to Lopez’s decision.

“We have to trust the process. At the end of the day, it is about who are compliant with our laws. We have to be able to find the balance between business and taking care of the environment,” he said in a text message.

He said the DENR exists so businesses are compliant with environmental laws.

On the other hand, he said he also believes these affected mining firms will have recourse as provided for in the law.

Gordon Alan Joseph, Cebu Business Club (CBC) president, said that while there has been a lot of abuse of environment by miners, there are also responsible miners.

“Responsible mining in the right areas should be encouraged and indiscriminate and destructive non-compliant mining terminated,” Joseph added.

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TAGS: AGAINST, business, Cebu, Cebu City, DENR, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local, support, traders

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