20,000 mining workers lose jobs

BUTUAN CITY―No alternative livelihood is in place yet for the workers who are likely to lose their jobs as a result of the order to close 14 mining sites in the Caraga Region, Labor officials said on Friday.

Evelyn R. Ramos, the Labor department’s regional director for Caraga, of the Department of Labor and Employment said the mining sites recently ordered closed by Environment Secretary Regina Lopez “directly and indirectly” were employing a total of 20,589 workers.

She said they had yet to hatch a plan to give the affected workers an alternative livelihood after the mines were closed. 

Ramos made her statement even as the latest survey by the polling firm Social Weather Stations in the last quarter of 2016 found that adult joblessness was now at 25.1 percent or 11.2-million people compared with the 18.4 percent or 8.2-million people recorded in September of the same year. 

SWS said the fourth-quarter adult joblessness rate was the worst since the 27 percent recorded in December 2014.

Mining workers. File photo
Meanwhile, the Environment department said Friday it followed due process in its decision to order the closure of the operation of 23 mining firms and the suspension of five other mining firms.

“The mere fact that the mining companies replied to the DENR’s audit findings means that they acknowledged that due process was observed,” Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna said in a statement.

Lopez earlier said her department would create a plan with other government agencies to provide alternative jobs for the affected mine workers. 

One alternative, she said, would be to employ the displaced workers in her department’s National Greening Program.

But DENR-Caraga Regional Executive Director Charlie Fabre said the multi-agency “convergence plan” that the DENR was leading to address the displacement of the mine workers in the region remained in the “planning stage.”

A forum-workshop is being conducted here and tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.

“A forum and planning workshop to for all private and government stakeholders on mining  will be held today and tomorrow in Butuan City, Fabre said.

A similar consultation will be held on Feb. 27 and 28 in the mining communities of Dinagat and Surigao provinces, he said.

“We expect 350 participants from mining, local government officials, leaders in the affected communities, non-government organizations as well as Indigenous Peoples’ communities because they also stand to lose their royalty share from mining.”

Fabre said he and other DENR-Caraga officials were called to Manila last week for a series of meetings with Lopez to address the economic impact of the mine closures in Caraga.

Director Roger de Dios of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Caraga estimated the loss of mining jobs would affect 300,000 people in the Caraga Region alone. 

Topics: Mining workers , Mining industry , Mining company , Evelyn Ramos , Department of Labor and Employment , Secretary Regina Lopez
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