To the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, we respectfully submit that the acts of the DENR Secretary-designate last February 2 announcing the suspension or closure of certain mining operations under the guise of “healing the hurt” were irresponsible, unfair and illegal.

Her actions have finally revealed her true bias: to stop all mining in the Philippines.

What is ironic is the Secretary-designate has trained her guns on the legitimate operations, while turning a blind eye to unpermitted, undocumented, non-taxpaying and non-compliant mining operations who are the real violators of environment.

Under the guise of “Healing the Hurt”, she is actually creating an even bigger HURT:

  1. She is condemning to poverty more than 1.2 million Filipinos whose livelihood depend on legitimate, legal, permitted mining;
  2. She will financially cripple LGUs and mineral-rich rural communities who benefit from tax payments and Social Development Management Programs of responsible mining companies;
  3. She is creating an unstable policy environment resulting in threatening the economic growth momentum under the Duterte Administration and putting in limbo US$22 billion (Php1.1 Trillion) worth of investments;
  4. She is attacking the only industry in the country that has actually replanted over 20 MILLION TREES nationwide in the past few years alone, deceptively using images of active mining areas as “evidence” that no rehabilitation is happening;
  5. She is slowly killing an industry that has faithfully paid billions in taxes and fees annually.
  6. She is strangling current operations by the non-issuance of tree-cutting permits, Environmental Compliance Certificates, Ore Transport Permits, Mineral Ore Export Permits and other DENR-controlled permits and stopping future projects by withholding and cancelling ECCs previously issued and non-processing of other required permits.

The Secretary-designate has effectively established a mining moratorium in the Philippines, trampling on the Philippine Mining Act, a law that she had sworn to uphold and implement before the President of the Philippines.

Beyond the mining companies, the Secretary-designate’s intent to close the mining sector poses a danger to other industries. The logistics companies who provide drilling, construction, hauling and shipping; processing companies; manpower and transportation service providers; even those in the education and health sectors will be seriously impacted by the actions of the Secretary-designate.

Other strategic industries such as energy and petroleum are also being shackled and slowly strangled to death by stopping the issuance and processing or canceling of existing Environmental Compliance Certificates.

Her predecessor required the mining companies to subject themselves to a yearlong certification process under the international standards of ISO 14001, which she herself described on July 1, 2016 as “another way of saying responsible mining.” But when faced with the fact that almost all of our member companies’ mining operations met the standards and received the certification of ISO 14001, she launched her own 4-day audit and packed the audit teams with anti-mining NGOs. That she uses the results of this second audit rather than the results of the ISO standards reveal her inherent bias against the industry as a whole. Worse, President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointee Undersecretary and Concurrent MGB Director Mario Luis Jacinto and his team are being ignored. They were even banned from last Thursday’s Press Conference only including anti-mining NGOs.

It is now apparent that within her Department there is widespread chaos.

This is not the way to “heal the hurt”. This is not the way to harness the mineral industry’s potential as a contributor to the country’s progress.

No one holds the monopoly on patriotism, love for the poor and the environment. Day in and day out, we the men and women of the minerals sector and our support services work towards alleviating poverty by investing billions of pesos in generating jobs, providing free education and health services, creating communities, building roads, dams and bridges, free electric and water services. In times of disasters, our rescue teams are first on call even in the most remote areas outside of our communities. We leave our families and work in areas neglected by the rest of the economy.

Our very existence depends on our responsible stewardship of the environment.

To us this is not just a slogan. This is our collective reality.

The country needs minerals and environmental policies to be handled with technical competence and sensitivity to the complexities of the issues.

We respectfully appeal to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to thoroughly review the actions of the DENR Secretary-designate relating to the minerals sector, and their serious repercussions to the country as a whole as they are without basis, fairness and legality.