By ROXANNE FRIJAS
BAGUIO CITY — Representatives from the three large scale mining companies operating in the Cordillera want a review of former President Benigno Aquino III’s Executive Order 79, saying that it hampered the growth of the mining industry.
Engr. Felizardo Gacad of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) shared during a press conference that the Chamber of Mines is calling for the amendment of EO 79 to revoke provisions that are “detrimental to the mining industry”. Among the provisions are the increase in taxes, moratorium on the granting of mining permits and agreements and the expansion of no mining areas.
Gacad presented the response of the Chamber of Mines to the ten-point agenda of newly installed President Rodrigo Duterte during the said press conference.
He said that the Chamber of Mines, however, want to retain EO 79’s provisions on transparency in tax payment and stricter implementation of environmental protection.
It can be recalled that Aquino issued EO 79 in 2012 as part of his administration’s bid to revitalize the mining industry.
Atty. Eduardo Aratas, legal officer of the Philex Mining Corporation said the they were not able to explore and expand because EO 79 barred them. He said Philex, given the present ore reserve can only continue operation until 2022 if the ban on new applications due to EO 79 will continue.
Philex has been operating in Padcal, Tuba, Benguet for over five decades now.
Moreover, Engr. Eddie S. Borromeo of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation said they can only continue operating for another six years if the company’s Far South East venture will not push through. He said that their Far South East project was stalled due to EO 79.
It can be recalled that some community folk in Mankayan, Benguet where Lepanto operates have been protesting its Far South East project bid.
Atty. Froilan Lawilao, legal officer of the Benguet Corporation said they can operate for 10 years more but there are still many areas with in the company’s mine claim that remains undeveloped also because of EO 79. # nordis.net