By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had asked Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez to stop requiring suspended mining companies to have an additional trust fund of P2 million per hectare before they could be allowed to export their stockpiles.
Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez said in an interview yesterday that the Office of the President, led by Medialdea, has countered the memorandum order she issued last January asking all suspended mining firms to open another trust fund account before they are allowed to remove their stockpiles from mining areas and export them.
“What happened is Bingbong Medialdea has given a directive to all the mining companies counteracting my order. He’s like going against the very spirit of the Duterte administration which is to help the poor. So I’m not really happy about this at all,” Lopez said.
“He has gone against my order and I don’t know what he’s thinking. Medialdea said that they (mining companies]) can now remove the stockpiles. He is saying that mining companies can go ahead and take the stockpiles and there’s no need to put money for the farmers. Is that even fair?” she added.
According to her, Medialdea had counteracted “each and every order in all areas and I can’t do anything about it.”
“Since I gave the order, my team can stop the companies [from exporting]. But now that’s Medialdea has placed the order, I cannot do anything,” she further said.
Three days ago, Lopez insisted that miners should really pay additional P2 million per hectare before they can continue with their stockpile transport activities.
The trust fund is different from the existing rehabilitation trust fund that is required of mining firms under Article 71 of the Republic Act 7942 and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2010-10.
Many are now arguing that the order will cause added burden to miners. For instance, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which is composed of the country’s biggest miners, said they will contest the said memorandum order for being redundant.
Medialdea directly reports to Duterte and is mandated to assist him in the management of affairs of the government.
Lopez also said Medialdea has yet to report to the President the appeal of the 28 miners that were ordered close and suspended.