Press Release
June 5, 2006

CAYETANO'S ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE SEEKS
REVIEW OF 1995 MINING ACT

In what could be an initial step to introduce changes to the controversial mining law, Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed Resolution No.488 seeking to review the status of the implementation of Republic Act No.7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

"The resolution seeks to assess the status of mining activities in the country and their effects on the community, people's health, livelihood and way of living, the environment, as well as the economy," said the senator, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

Cayetano's announcement coincided with the observance of 'World Environment Day' today, June 5, which calls for renewed initiatives to protect the environment to achieve sustainable and equitable development.

She said the review intends to find out whether government agencies concerned, particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, have been able to closely monitor mining activities all over the country, and enforce the necessary penalties for firms caught violating their Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

"On a broader front, it is important to assess the environmental and human cost of mining operations, and just how much our country has derived from the industry over the last decade in terms of income, taxes and employment," she noted, adding that concerns have been raised that the estimated income and benefits from mining as stated by the government may be unrealistic.

The senator pointed out that mining, by its nature, exploits the environment and natural resources. She added that in most cases, those mine-rich areas targeted for mining are also the ones richest in biodiversity.

"Once mining destroys biodiversity, it is almost impossible to restore it, not even with the best available technology and environmental rehabilitation practices.

"It is therefore important that extreme safeguards are instituted and are actually implemented by government," she noted. "The price to pay is immense if we're not careful."

She hopes the review would provide senators with necessary data to help them make an informed decision on how to go about improving the mining law, which the Catholic Church wants repealed for destroying life and the environment.

Of the three bills on the mining law currently pending with the senate committee, two bills seek the repeal of RA 7942. The third, authored by Cayetano herself, calls for the amendment of Section 70 to include health assessment of communities affected by mining operations.

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