MANILA—Department of Finance (DOF) spokesperson Paola Alvarez on Thursday doused fears that results of a multi-stakeholder review on mining operations in the Philippines will be questionable.
This after Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez said she was “a little worried” about the involvement of Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin in the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).
Agabin represents MICC co-chair and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III in the latter’s absence during MICC meetings.
Lopez said Agabin, a lawyer, once represented mining firms.
However, Alvarez, in a statement, said Agabin’s professional connection with the Philippine Associated Smelting & Refining Corp. (PASAR) ended some 15 years ago and with Rapu Rapu Minerals Inc. about 10 years ago.
MICC was created through Executive Order (EO) 7 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012. It was mandated to review operations of all mining companies in the country and to check whether these companies are following all rules and regulations as well as terms of their contracts.
During its meeting last Feb. 9, Council members agreed, among others, to create a technical working growth (TWG) that would conduct the review of all mining operations in the country.
In the succeeding meetings, the Council agreed that the TWG would have five teams composed of representatives from various sectors such as the academe and experts, although members of the terms had yet to be named.
The Council also agreed to request for a Php 50-million budget from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the review.
Alvarez said the budget was needed “to hire a sufficient number of private experts from different fields to review the technical, legal, social, environmental and economic aspects of all 311 mining contracts in the country.”