DENR warns miners

GARBAGE CALL - Luis Loyola, provincial environmental and natural resources officer (PENRO) of Masbate (inset) delivers the message of DENR Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada urging the Albay Provincial Solid Waste Management Board (PSWMB) to take proactive steps to realize the mandate set by Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Loyola informs the PSWMB about the national and regional targets being pressed on by the government in the re-orientation seminar last month at the Sanggunian Panlalawigan Hall, Albay Provincial Capitol, Legazpi City.

LEGAZPI CITY – “Use it or lose it”. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada recently warned all mining proponents with pending and inactive mining applications.

Fragada pointed out DENR Secretary Ramon Paje’s directive on Friday (Jan. 28) to all regional directors of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to cleanse their respective regions of all pending and idle mining applications this year, setting deadlines on Feb. 20, 2011 for the first  50 percent and on December 2011 for the remaining 50 percent.

“The cleansing of ageing mining applications is two-pronged: one is to institute reforms in the mining sector, and two as part of the DENR’s anti-corruption program” Fragada said.

He said the secretary’s order is intended to deprive DENR personnel of any opportunity for corruption.

Fragada said that the move is among the reforms in the mining sector to enhance the management of the country’s natural resources.

MGB records show that there are currently 2,180 mining tenement applications that remain pending in various MGB regional offices for an average of 10 years or more. In Bicol, MGB identified 234 mining tenement applications and is now evaluating the master list for the elimination process.

Mining tenements include mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA), exploration permit (EP) and financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA).

Under Paje’s order, exploration contracts that have already expired for five years or more and mining contracts that have not implemented the three-year work program for two consecutive years are also subject to final action by the DENR.

As part of the cleansing procedure, Fragada explained that the agency is strictly carrying out the so-called “three letter-notice policy” in exacting compliance with all the requirements by the applicants, with a maximum interval of 30 days between these letters-notices.

Among the requirements in filing for mining applications include the acquisition of Free and Prior Informed Consent by the rightful indigenous peoples concerned as certified by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the NCIP Certificate of Non-Overlap within one year, and the NCIP Certification Precondition (Compliance Certificate) within three years from the date of receipt by the NCIP of the pertinent letter requests from MGB.

The mining applicant must also submit proofs of consultation with the LGU’s Sanggunian within two years from the date of acceptance of the mining application, and the completion of publication, posting and radio announcement within one year from the date of acceptance of the mining application.

Failure on the part of the applicant to comply with any of the requirements shall be ground for the denial of the mining permit, Paje’s order said.

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