By Philippine News Agency
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez on Tuesday (April 25) afternoon announced that she will issue on Wednesday show-cause orders against two mining companies in southern Negros after seeing purported violations of environmental laws.
Sec. Lopez arrived in Dumaguete City early Tuesday and flew via helicopter to Basay in Negros Oriental and the next town, Sipalay in Negros Occidental, for an ocular inspection of the defunct Copper Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP) and the still operational Maricalum Mining, respectively.
In an interview at the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport after her ocular inspection, Sec. Lopez described both mining sites as “really bad” but went on to say that Maricalum Mining was a “nightmare.”
Lopez pointed out to such beautiful greenery around while flying to the south, and when they got to Sipalay, she noticed an open-pit mine site there that caught her attention.
There were also four tailings there, Lopez said.
According to her, the two firms will be given seven days under the show-cause order to explain the alleged violations pertaining to environmental laws.
If they fail to submit a show-cause report, Lopez warned of strict sanctions, saying “they’re finished”.
The CDCP mining in Basay, Negros Oriental has long since been abandoned but while rehabilitation efforts have been made, apparently these were not enough to satisfy the DENR executive.
Lopez said she was informed that the toxicity level of the Pagatban River is high, posing danger to people and the environment.
“They have not done their job well”, said Lopez of the CDCP mining company.
Sec. Lopez arrived here following receipt of numerous complaints that the water in Pagatban River is acidic as a result of heavy metals such as lead, copper and zinc, which are still found in the bottom of the river at concentrations 200 to 5,000 times higher that acceptable levels, which is risky to the health of the people.
According to a research conducted by Silliman University in Dumaguete City, the general water quality of Pagatban River can be classified as Class C which can be suited for aquaculture use but the heavy metals in its bottom is not compatible with any fishery activities in the area even after more than three decades since it was stopped in 1983.
After CDCP, Sec. Lopez proceeded to Sipalay to see for herself the reported erosion of a garbage dumpsite in the area that has affected a lot of farmlands.
Sec. Lopez had been to several open pit mining sites all over the country, findings of which will be presented during a roundtable discussion, so policies can be finalized before the scheduled date of her confirmation as secretary of DENR.
Meanwhile, Sec. Lopez said she wants to craft policies for the DENR before anything happens to her confirmation or non-confirmation by the Committee on Appointments this coming May 2, 2017.
By Thursday, Sec. Lopez said government policies on mining will be out in an announcement she will make through a press conference in Manila.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Viernov Grefalde and staff met with Sec. Lopez in the afternoon at the airport where she discussed some concerns with them in a brief and informal huddle before departing for Manila.
Tags: Copper Development Corporation of the Philippines, DENR, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Lopez warns two 'erring' mining firms in Negros of strict sanctions, manila bulletin, Maricalum Mining, mining firm, Negros, Regina Lopez, sanctions