By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR
Three years ago, under the leadership of former Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) was leading the crackdown in the mining sector. Today, it is spending millions to promote it.
In a statement, it was revealed that MGB, the government agency tasked to regulate the highly controversial extractive industries, had spent as much as P9 million to launch its massive information campaign to promote sustainable and responsible mining last year.
The spending covered conceptualization, creation of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) print materials, social media account management and content, production of TV commercial, online advertisement, and documentary outputs, as well as the actual launch itself.
Such move of MGB is in stark contrast to its decisions in 2017 when it would rather spend its budget to run after mining companies.
Back when Lopez was still the Environment Secretary, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), MGB’s lead agency, spent millions for an audit on mining companies, which almost shutdown half of the country’s nickel operators, including the major ones.
Things have changed in 2017 when Lopez, who passed away in August last year, was replaced by Environment Secretary Cimatu, a development that gave miners a glimmer of hope.
Meanwhile, MGB said that miners are now supporting its massive responsible mining campaign and have even pledged to contribute to it.
“Mining companies are willing to allot a portion of information, education and communication (IEC) and development of mining technology and geosciences (DMTG) component from their Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) for this endeavor,” MGB said.
As of September 2018, a data from MGB showed that mining companies have committed to spend P39.74 billion in total for their plans and programs related to sustainable development and environmental protection/rehabilitation.
The amount included the companies’ budget for SDMP, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP), and Final Mine Rehabilitation, Decommissioning Plan (FMR/DP).
The SDMP is a tool for the development and implementation of community programs, projects and activities for the host and neighboring communities of a mining project/area.
This is a five-year plan geared towards the development of responsible, self-reliant and resource-based communities capable of developing, implementing and managing development programs, projects and activities.