DENR suspends issuance of new mining permits

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has directed all regional directors of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau to refrain from accepting and processing new mining applications nationwide.

Paje issued the directive in view of the on-going cleansing of pending and inactive mining projects nationwide by the mines bureau.

“As we take on the task of cleansing our regional offices of ageing mining applications and inactive mining projects, I have also directed our MGB officials to refrain from accepting and processing new applications for mining permits, such as exploration permit, mineral production sharing agreement,  financial or technical assistance, including industrial sand and gravel permit,” Paje said.

Paje has earlier ordered the MGB’s regional officials until February 20 to cleanse their respective regions of 50% of all pending and inactive mining applications, and until December 2011 for the remaining 50%.

MGB records show that there are currently 2,180 pending mining applications filed in various MGB regional offices.

Aside from pending mining applications, exploration contracts that have already expired for five years or more, and mining contracts whose three-year work programs have not been implemented for two consecutive years are also subject of final action, Paje said.
According to the DENR chief, the suspension in the issuance of new mining permits is part of the reforms in the mining sector in a move to enhance the management of the country’s natural resources. “We are now in the process of implementing our ‘use it or lose it policy’, where we will be cancelling mining applications that were unable to comply with the all the requirements set by the government, including mining tenements that have remained inactive and unproductive through the years.”

In cleansing their respective offices of pending mining applications, however, Paje reminded his field officials to strictly observe the “three-letter-policy” in exacting compliance by applicants of all the requirements, with a minimum of 30 days between these letter-  notices. Among these requirements include the acquisition of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the rightful indigenous peoples concerned, proof of consultation from the LGU’s Sangguniang, and the completion of publication, posting and radio announcement within one year from the date of acceptance of the mining application. 

DENR to go after LGUs erring in solid waste management

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will go after local government units (LGUs) who refuse to comply with Republic Act No. 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

This was announced by DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje as the environment sector marked the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the law on January 26, 2011.

“One decade is too long a grace period for LGUs to implement the provisions of the law. Local officials who do not implement RA 9003 are in essence depriving their constituents of their Constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology,”  Paje said.

Paje said that he has already instructed the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), which the DENR chairs, to work together in monitoring the status of LGUs’ solid waste management (SWM) practices. 

Based on NSWMC records, there are 1,205 disposal facilities strewn throughout the country. Of these, only 33 or less than three per cent are sanitary landfills that serve 55 LGUs. The remaining 1,172 are open and controlled dumps, of which 535 are under now rehabilitation and closure. Paje said that the DENR is bent on intensifying its drive to enhance compliance of LGUs, especially those that are still operating open dumps and CDFs.

As part of its drive, the commission has identified 183 LGUs to be issued final notices for “apparently failing to act on or refusing to implement” SWM. Paje reiterated that RA 9003 explicitly mandates SWM as a primary responsibility of the LGUs and accordingly, “those who fail to comply can be charged administratively with the Office of the Ombudsman.”

At the same time, he enjoined all Filipinos to practice waste segregation in their homes to lessen the amount of household waste collected. Paje had earlier bared plans to impose penalties on collectors of unsorted waste as provided also under RA 9003. 

“Everyone should realize that solid waste management should be a collective effort because it can be a win-win situation for all. We minimize waste that is collected or thrown in the streets, and lessen the dangers to health and safety. We can also make money out of what we reuse, recycle, or salvage from the materials recovery facilities, and provide livelihood for those who need it,” said Paje.

The DENR led the commemoration of the 10th year anniversary of RA 9003 by reorienting officials of Quezon City’s 142 barangays on the principles of waste segregation at source and the other aspects of SWM. The next summit would convene barangay officials of the City of Manila, while other LGUs would be clustered. 

NSWMC figures indicate that the nation churns out 35,000 tons of waste daily, of which 40 to 70 per cent are collected. Metro Manila alone generates 8,400 tons of waste daily, dumping most of its waste in sanitary landfills in Navotas, Quezon City, or in Rodriguez, Rizal.Encouraged by the show of interest from the public in cleaning up Metro Manila’s waterways, Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has directed field officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to initiate their own adopt-an-estero scheme in the provinces.

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