MANILA — Five teams tapped by the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) had yet to formally start the review on the initial batch of 26 mine sites ordered closed by the Environment department but a ranking Finance official said the teams had taken the initial steps.
“I don’t know what you mean by formally but they have done a lot of ground work already,” Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin told journalists in an interview Thursday.
The three-month mining review framework was originally scheduled to start last January but Agabin, who represents Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to the MICC, said the budget for the process had not been released.
Despite this fact, the Finance official said members of the Technical Working Group (TWG), who were experts on mining while some came from the academe, had shown dedication by checking on the documents that they already had and setting up a work plan.
“If you compare it to a car the engine is already hot and you just have to step on the gas pedal for it to start moving,” he said.
Agabin said that amid the delay, the review would still be conducted for three months.
“We’d like to count three months from the time that they formally start so it would be fair. We don’t want them to come up with sloppy work,” he said.
Agabin said members of the MICC would convene again late February 2018 to further discuss the review.
After the review this year of the 26 mining firms that were ordered closed or suspended by former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez, MICC planned to conduct another review next year while succeeding reviews would be done every two years thereafter. (PNA)