By Chino S. Leyco
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has requested the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to strictly enforce laws and regulations limiting the access of people in areas identified as vulnerable to landslides and other geohazards.
Dominguez also asked the DILG during the recent meeting of the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to hold accountable local government unit (LGU) executives found remiss in their duties in allowing their respective constituents to build their homes in these dangerous areas.
“We should put another special item there to work with the MGB (and) to work with DILG on zoning rules basically to prevent housing or any construction in quarry areas, and mining areas that have been determined to be in a geohazard area,” Dominguez stressed, referring to the inclusion of this matter in the workplan of the MICC for 2019.
He suggested that the MICC place this as Number 1 in the list of priorities under its 2019 agenda.
Dominguez co-chairs the MICC with Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, who heads the Department of Finance’S (DOF) legal affairs group, said Dominguez had also called on the DILG earlier to take action against LGU executives in localities where unscrupulous traders have managed to operate factories for illicit cigarettes disguised as legitimate businesses.
In a February letter to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, Dominguez said, “inexcusable lapses” of the local officials and employees involved in the issuance of the permit “should not be left unnoticed,” more so now that barangays have the authority and resources to enforce all applicable laws and exercise diligence in inspecting establishments before approving applications to operate commercially.
“The officials/employees who were instrumental in the issuance of the permit and all other accountable persons who failed to exercise the degree of diligence required of them should be investigated and subsequently subjected to appropriate charge/s,” Dominguez said in his letter.
He had written Año following the raid by Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives of an illicit cigarette factory disguised as a piggery in Bugallon, Pangasinan.
Earlier, the MICC agreed to conduct the second round of “objective, science-based, and fact-finding” review of mining operations in 2019 to cover the remaining 15 mining companies that were part of the 41 mines initially reviewed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) under former Secretary Regina Lopez in 2016.
It also deferred a recommendation on the lifting of the moratorium on the issuance of new mineral agreements.