MANILA—Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Tuesday said that the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has formed a technical working group (TWG) to review all orders issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against mining companies.
The Department of Finance (DOF) has been working as co-chair of the MICC with DENR Secretary-designate Gina Lopez.
“She and I have signed the resolution of the MICC agreeing that we are to set up a TWG to review all her issuances to make sure that these are in line with due process,” Dominguez said during a Palace news briefing.
He said the TWG is composed basically of professors and engineers in the private sector who are not connected with the mining companies as well as government lawyers.
“The second meeting of the TWG will be held this Friday and we are going to start the work to make sure that all the issuances regarding mining were done through due process,” he said.
The Cabinet official said the review would take at least three months as the TWG must review the details of each contract concerned as well as actual visits to the mining sites.
In the meantime, Dominguez stressed that the review of the recent closures of mining firms is not meant to undermine Lopez but only to make that President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s stand on contracts and due process is followed.
“I’m sure Secretary-designate Gina Lopez welcomes the opportunity for the MICC which she co-chairs to review the actions that were recommended by her staff and we just want to make sure that they have followed due process,” he said.
“As I explained to her directly, I mentioned to her that I want to make sure that whatever findings she makes, sticks. That if she cancels a mine, that if in her judgment, the mine has violated the law and she followed due process, I want to make sure that when she closes the mines, they stay closed,” Dominguez stressed.
The Cabinet official said they also wanted to avoid possible consequences if due process is not followed.
One is that the mine will go to court and the court will give them relief and they will open again; and two, they will probably file for damages against the government for closing them illegally.
“So I want to avoid those and I want to make sure that Secretary-designate Lopez is in firm grounds when she does this. You know, that’s my responsibility as co-chair and as a member of the team. We all belong to the same team of President Duterte,” Dominguez said.