Press Releases

Two days after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources made public the results of its mining audit, officials of the DENR and mining companies agreed to work together to ensure that mining redounds to the common good and improves lives of Filipinos, especially in communities that host mining operations.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez met with officials of mining companies on Thursday during which she urged them to take part in the DENR’s integrated area development approach to create “mini economic zones” that can generate employment, livelihood and income-generating activities in communities where they operate.

“When you do that, we can get our people out of poverty,” she said.

Addressing about 80 representatives of mining companies at the DENR social hall in Quezon City, Lopez explained the policies and thrusts of the department stressing that the bottom line is “for the country’s natural resources to be used in a way that benefits the most number of people.”

Lopez noted that in the case of mining, its benefits have been limited while causing “social fissure” in communities.

“There are people who benefit but many others who don’t and suffer. And they fight with each other. That’s the most painful—when the presence of a business interest creates social fissure,” she said.

Saying the purpose of the meeting was “to move forward and work together for the country’s good,” Lopez said, Ï reiterate sincerely and emphatically, I want to help you (the mining industry) make things right and be on the positive side.”

Lopez presented the Total Economic Valuation (TEV) framework, which she described as a "fair and scientific way to make decisions based on monetary evaluation".

She encouraged them to use TEV to identify and quantify the major environmental impacts of mining and from there decide which programs to implement in their areas.

Lopez cited the social development and management program of mining companies as one that can make significant socioeconomic impact if the money is used to create economic activities for communities under the DENR’s area development approach.

"What if in the areas where you are, we ensure an area development approach, wherein your SDMP money is utilized in the best of ways with great social and economic value," she said. "I can work with you there, in such a way that the entire area where you are becomes a huge economic success."

She said that by doing economically viable programs, the development of the community will continue long after mining has stopped.

The DENR also presented programs on reef protection and preservation and the use of biochar to rehabilitate agricultural lands affected by mining, both of which the mining companies could be involved in.

During the open forum, most of those who spoke expressed support for the DENR’s program—particularly the use of SMDP for total socioeconomic development of host communities. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has given 20 mining firms seven days to respond why their operations should not be suspended as recommended following the mining audit conducted nationwide.

DENR Secretary Regina Paz Lopez said that the mining audit was completed in August by 16 teams that were composed of technical experts from the DENR and other government agencies such as the health and agricultural departments, as well as representatives from civil society.

Lopez said the audit was “very technical”, with each mining company “taken on their own merits.”

In a summary of the report presented to the media Tuesday (September 27), Senior Undersecretary for Environment Leo Jasareno said that of 41 metallic mines currently operating in the country, 20 have been recommended for suspension, seven were already suspended prior to the audit, and another three were earlier issued suspension orders that were upheld by the audit teams.

Jasareno said the mining companies will be furnished audit reports. “Upon receipt, the concerned mining companies are given seven days to respond on why their operations should not be suspended. After which, the DENR will study their response within two weeks, then render its decision,” Jasareno explained.

The 20 mining projects recommended for suspension by the audit teams include Libjo Mining Corporation; AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corporation (Parcels 1 and 2B); Krominco, Inc.; Carrascal Nickel Corporation; Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation; Filminera Resources Corporation and Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corporation;

Strongbuilt Mining Development Corporation; Sinosteel Philippines H.Y. Mining Corporation; Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation; Wellex Mining Corporation; Century Peak Corporation – Rapid City and Casiguran Nickel Projects; Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corporation;

CTP Construction and Mining Corporation; Agata Mining Ventures, Inc.; Hinatuan Mining Corporation; Benguet Corporation; Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company; Oceana Gold Phils., Inc.; Adnama Mining Resources, Inc.; and SR Metals, Inc.

The companies were found to have violated various mining and environmental laws and regulations, such as violations of conditions of their environmental clearance certificates (ECCs), siltation, soil erosion, lack of tree-cutting or water permits, and no ISO 14001 certification.

The three mining projects that were earlier recommended for suspension include Claver Mineral in Surigao del Norte; and Emir Mineral and Mt. Sinai, both in Eastern Samar.

The seven companies issued suspension order prior to the audit were Zambales Diversified, BenguetCorp Nickel, Eramen Minerals, and Inl Archipelago in Zambales; Berong Nickel and Citinickel in Palawan; and Ore Asia Mining in Bulacan.

Jasareno said that the companies, if found to have also violated certain penal provisions, could be slapped with penalties on top of their suspension.

Meanwhile, the 11 who “passed” the audit were: Philex Mining; Rio Tuba Nickel/Coral Bay Nickel; Carmen Copper/Atlas; Techiron Resources; Cagdianao Mining; Greenstone Resources; Taganito Mining; Pacific Nickel Phils; Platinum Group Metals; Philsaga; and Apex Mining.

Jasareno clarified, however, that “passing” the audit did not mean that the eleven had no violations. “Their infractions were more on day-to-day technical concerns, and the team did not find compelling reasons to suspend these companies,” he said.

He cited the case of Philex Mining, which he said the firm should still continue its efforts to reverse the consequences of a tailings spill that occurred in 2012, in what was touted to be one of the country’s biggest mining disasters.

He added that there was no prescribed period for the companies to correct their violations, because the earlier they applied remediation measures would mean that their suspension would be lifted sooner. ###

The restoration of the watershed area in one of Mindanao's most important water bodies will begin soon, as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the provincial government of Lanao del Sur signed on Wednesday the implementation agreement for the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) covering Lake Lanao.

One of the major projects of the DENR's Forest Management Bureau (FMB), INREMP aims to manage the upper river basins and component watersheds to support poverty reduction, watershed management, biodiversity conservation and climate change policy objectives by developing the capacities of local government units (LGUs), institutions and upland communities as development partners.

The implementation agreement for the INREMP in Lake Lanao, a highly important water body in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), was signed by DENR Region 10 Director Ruth Tawantawan and Lanao del Sur Gov. Soraya Adiong in simple rites held at the Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City.

The signing was witnessed by top DENR officials led by Secretary Gina Lopez and ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman. Also in attendance were Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority, and DENR Undersecretary for International Affairs and Foreign Assisted Program Jonas Leones.

“I have no doubt in my mind that we will make a difference in Mindanao, and we’re gonna start in a big way here in Lanao Del Sur,” said Lopez, stressing that the change in the quality of people’s lives covered by the project is the real measure of its success.

Lopez hopes to see within the next six months changes in the quality of life of people around the lake as a result of the project. Around 30 municipalities, consisting of 800 barangays, can be found within the area.

Lake Lanao is the second largest lake in the country with an approximate area of 32,000 hectares, next only to Laguna de Bay.

For her part, Tawantawan said that the INREMP project in Lanao del Sur “is the most challenging” of the four INREMP sites, owing to its “uniqueness” and “many firsts”.

“We are managing a reservation that is directly under ARMM, but done through a national government agency,” Tawantawan said, adding the project showcases “a first and big project” in terms giving assistance in Lanao del Sur under the Duterte Administration.

“This is purely assisting a group of people that have not been given assistance for so many years,” she said.

Gov. Hataman, on the other hand, expressed optimism that the project will help bring lasting peace in Mindanao as the project addresses crucial developmental issues in terms of providing sustainable economic activities within and around the lake.

Hataman noted that livelihood activities in and around the lake area are “environmenl-based and dependent on rural infrastructures,” which, he said, the project seeks to strengthen, eventually benefitting the entire province.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 11 of 20 poorest provinces in the country are in Mindanao, with Lanao del Sur topping the list with a 74.3 percent poverty incidence for the first semester of 2015.

INREMP also has a project in Bukidnon (Region 10), which is also one the 11 poorest provinces in Mindanao, benefitting 22 municipalities and covering 535,908 hectares in the Upper Bukidnon River Basin.

Considered the deepest in the country and one of the major tropical lakes in Southeast Asia, Lake Lanao supplies 70 percent of Mindanao’s electricity with hydroelectric power, aside from providing irrigation water and various fishes of commercial potentials.

The other two are the Upper Chico River Basin (442,906 hectares) in the Cordillera Administrative Region and the Upper Wahig-Inabanga River Basin (60,859 hectares) in in Bohol.

The program's main objective is to address sustainable watershed management concerns in upper river basins. It also aims to reduce and reverse the degradation of watersheds caused by forest denudation and unsustainable farming practices.

INREMP also seeks to provide incentives to local communities, the LGUs, and the DENR for improving the natural resource management by generating sustainable and economic benefits.

The project is funded with a loan from the Asian Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development and grants from the Global Environmental Facility and the Climate Change Fund of the Philippine government. The total fund for the project is US$154.12 million. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has led the creation of an inter-agency task force that would guarantee social protection and uphold the self-determination and development of all indigenous peoples (IPs) in the country.

The task force is composed of representatives from the DENR, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Natural Resources Development Corp. (NRDC), the DENR's corporate arm.

The three agencies signed on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to form the Indigenous Peoples Inter-Agency Task Force (IPITF).

DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio represented Secretary Regina Paz Lopez in the MOU signing, with NCIP executive director and chair Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo and NRDC president-designate Sylvia Ordonez signing in behalf of their agencies.

The MOU signing came a week after Lopez announced that an IP Desk will be set up at the DENR central office in Quezon City.

She said the IP Desk will attend to the concerns of IPs who often face threats of land grabbing, forced eviction and human- rights violations.

Under the MOU, a technical working group will be formed to draft the rules of procedures to ensure the observance, effectiveness and smooth functioning of the task force.

The IPITF is tasked to make sure that the IPs are "not subjected to undue pressure and influence from unscrupulous businessmen or other industries intending to extract natural resources."

It is likewise expected to "act towards the fulfillment of the objectives of environmental laws and [IP] rights."

The DENR has promised to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of resoures within ancestral domains and preserve biodiversity, as well as to employ a strict policy of verifying the authenticity of documents pertaining to the use of lands within IP communities.

It also agreed to refrain from issuing titles within ancestral domains and provide opportunities for NCIP to access the Enhanced National Greening Program, the government's massive reforestation and poverty alleviation initiative, for the empowerment of IPs.

For her part, Quintayo said that she was “touched” by the new role given by Lopez to the commission.

“This is the first time that the NCIP and the DENR are working at the national level for really working with the indigenous peoples,” Quintayo said.

She said the preservation and development of ancestral lands for the benefit of IPs require convergence and the intervention of experts, which the collaboration among the three agencies will provide.

The NRDC, for its part, vowed to provide human resources and capital so that the IP communities will be able to make optimum use of their land resources.

The corporation also promised to assist in consultations, planning, product development and marketing for any social enterprise an IP community might wish to undertake.

Whenever available, the NRDC will provide the capital funding or mobilize resources to support biodiversity-friendly social enterprises.

The NCIP, on the other hand, will ensure sustainable use and development of ancestral domains of IPs, free from exploitation and abuse.

The commission also agreed to provide the DENR and the NRDC with community-initiated plans and roadmaps of IP concerns. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the Philippines has made significant strides in complying with the Montreal Protocol, a 29-year-old global agreement to protect the ozone layer.

Finalized in 1987, the international treaty legally enforces the phase-out of the production and use of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) or chemicals often used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, foam manufacturing, aerosol production, and fire extinguishing.

"The Philippines has so far been successful in complying with the agreement having phased out all ODS, except for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), in 2010," DENR Undersecretary for Legal Services and Attached Agencies Analiza Rebuelta Teh said in a report read on her behalf during a forum held in Quezon City to mark the local celebration of the Ozone Day on Sept. 16.

Teh, who is the national coordinator for ODS program, said the country also began reducing the production and use of HFCs by 10 percent last year until the total ban of the last remaining ODS by 2040.

The Philippines signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on Sept. 14, 1988 and ratified it on March 21, 1991.

As a party to one of the most successful and effective environmental treaties ever, the country agreed to the gradual phase-out of ODS, particularly chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

The Philippines imposed a ban on the importation of CFCs and HCFCs in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

In 1994, the Philippine Ozone Desk (POD) was created to facilitate and coordinate ODS phase-out projects and policies for the overall implementation of the country's obligations under the Montreal Protocol. The POD is under the Environmental Management Bureau, an attached agency of the DENR.

Since ODS are not produced in the Philippines, the focus of its regulation was on the import, processing, sale and disposal of such chemicals.

Over the years, the government has developed, implemented, and updated policies and regulations to regulate, restrict or prohibit the importation, manufacture, processing, sale, distribution, use and disposal of ODS.

A total of 93 ODS projects worth over US$38.8 million have also been approved by the protocol's Multilateral Fund, which contributed to the phase-out of 3,330 tons of ODS in the country.

As a result of the concerted efforts among nations, the ozone layer is healing itself and is expected to recover by the middle of the century.

The Montreal Protocol has significantly contributed to the mitigation of climate change as it prevented the emission of more than 135 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by simply phasing out ODS. ###