Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said his department expects to release by the end of July the results of the assessment of the appeal made by mining companies which former secretary Regina Lopez shut down.
Cimatu said the department was doing everything to speed up the mining assessment in an interview during the R&D Congress on Sustainable Urbanization in the Course of Asean Economic Integration at Hotel Sofitel in Manila.
Lopez earlier ordered a review on the operations of all operating metallic mines in the country. Following the audit, Lopez announced that 23 mining operations would be up for closure and five more would be suspended. Twelve mining companies passed the audit.
Lopez also announced that the government would cancel the mining contracts of 75 mining projects which were found within or near watersheds. She also ordered a ban on prospective open-pit mines.
Mining companies questioned the decision and filed their appeal with the Environment Department. Some companies also opted to file their appeal with the Office of the President.
“We are actually doing everything to fast track all these things but we are not yet prepared to make some announcements. I have already plans of going to some mining companies. We are going there to physically inspect and look for myself the things that made these companies responsible specially in protecting the environment,” Cimatu said.
“I will be going to some mining companies in Palawan, Surigao, Agusan, and hopefully we can complete already all these hopefully by next month. I would like to say that by the end of next month,” he said.
Environment undersecretary for field operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr. said the results would cover only those which appealed their case with the DENR.
“He [Cimatu] is hoping that the result of the assessment of their appeal will come out next month. We do not have a timetable [for all appeals] because most of the mining companies submitted their appeal to Malacañang. But those in the DENR, we are hoping by next month. The process is either they go to DENR or to Malacañang. If they go to DENR, the decision is still appealable to Malacañang,” said Ignacio.
“ The office of the president makes a decision based on the review. Should they be closed or not? It goes back to DENR for implementation and we will be the one to implement. If they are ordered to close, we will be the one to issue the closure order or if they can continue to operate, then we will make safeguards,” said Ignacio.
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