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Alyansa Tigil Mina, a national coalition of mining-affected communities and their support groups collectively confronting the aggressive promotion of destructive large-scale mining in the Philippines, welcome the beginning of reforms and positive changes in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Aware of the worsening mining situation in the country, the Duterte administration has been making strides in reviewing mining operations through the mining audits, and ordering the cancellation and suspension of some eight (8) mining projects in Zambales, Palawan, Bulacan and Surigao del Norte. We are elated that the new DENR Sec. Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez has been active in fulfilling the agency’s mandate, and openly engaging civil society organizations as a DENR partner.

However, we also call for serious institutional reforms in the agency to address issues of corruption and accountability of officials. While RA7942 or the Mining Act of 1995 legitimated the destructive mining regime for the past two decades, we also believe that there were serious lapses on the part of its implementers—the DENR officials who turned a blind eye against environmental and human rights violations, and negative impacts of mining in favor of mining companies.

Mining-affected communities have filed reports, complaints and cases on this. One specific case is the complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2015 against then DENR Sec. Ramon Paje, then Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director now Senior Usec. Leo Jasareno and twenty others, for violation of Section 3 (e) of RA3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices and several provisions of RA7160 or the Local Government Code. The complainants claim “despite widespread degradation and destruction of the environment in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, no penalties were imposed on the mining companies and left their activities unchecked.” The mining companies Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines, David M. Consunji Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., Filipinas Mining Corporation Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation were referred in the case.

Four of these companies have been issued suspension order by Sec. Lopez. Meanwhile, concerned officials were not held liable and some were even promoted. Alyansa Tigil Mina asserts that this is an important concern that needs to be looked into. The DENR can only genuinely fulfill its mandate if the organization is not tainted with corruption and illegal activities.

We strongly urge the DENR leadership to investigate and hold accountable liable officials found to have abused their authorities or violated their mandates, or engaged in corruption. No reforms are complete and sustainable if there is no accountability. The sycophants and “doble-cara” have no place in the campaign for reforms in the DENR.

As a way forward, begin with then MGB Dir. Jasareno. Make him accountable to his actions and inactions as MGB Director in the past administration, which led to the different forms of violations of rights of the communities.

It’s time to end the destructive mining regime!

Ensure accountability and justice for all mining-related violations and abuses! End the greed and injustices towards the people.

— For more information contact: Jaybee Garganera, / 0917-5498218; Farah Sevilla, / 0923.5122374

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