Lopez bans prospective open-pit mines

denr semirara open pit

MANILA, Philippines — Just a few days before her confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez fired another shot at the mining industry after she issued an order banning all prospective open-pit mines in the country.

In a briefing Thursday, Lopez announced that she is banning the open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores all over the country.

“As a matter of policy, which is my prerogative as DENR secretary, we’re banning open-pit mining, prospective, for the following reason: that pit is gonna be there forever and a day, eternally,” Lopez said.

The Environment chief cited several reasons for the ban including its financial and environmental liability; deprivation of economic use of the area; continuing adverse impact on the environment; and its high risk to host communities.

Open-pit is defined as an excavation or cut made on the surface of the ground for the purpose of extracting ore and which is open to the surface for the duration of the mine’s life.

Lopez claimed that it was within her prerogative to issue an order to ban the practice, which is allowed under the Philippine Mining Act.

“Open-pit mining is too much of a risk. I have the mandate to evaluate and I have the duty to put a stop to it,” Lopez said.

“Each open pit is a financial liability for government for life. It kills the economic potential of the place,” she added.

Lopez emphasized that open pits have ended up as perpetual liabilities, causing adverse impacts to the environment, particularly due to the generation of acidic and heavy metal-laden water, erosion of mine waste dumps and vulnerability of tailings dams to geological hazards.

She added that records show that most of the mining disasters in the country were due to tailings spills associated with open-pit mining.

Order issued in anticipation of CA hearing

Lopez admitted that she is now imposing the ban because she is uncertain as to what may happen during her confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments on May 2.

“I am doing this because I have no idea what’s going to happen on Tuesday. I’m doing this because I find politics very unpredictable,” Lopez said.

Since her appointment as Environment chief, Lopez has made public her stand against the practice, which is being used by most mines in the Philippines.

Among the biggest prospective open-pit mines are the over $2-billion Pangilinan-led Silangan mine in Surigao del Norte and the $5.9-billion Tampakan project in South Cotabato, dubbed as potentially the country’s biggest foreign investment and believed to be one of the largest gold prospects in the world.

The DENR is set to issue show cause orders to projects that are under the exploration stage while those under application will no longer be approved, Lopez said.

‘Order is absurd’

Meanwhile, the industry group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) countered Lopez’s decision, saying it is absurd and that the law actually allows open-pit mining.

“While the DENR does have the power to regulate mining, they have to do it within the ambit of the Constitution and the law. Lopez cannot add or deduct from the law by herself. It needs amending legislation from Congress,” COMP Legal and Policy vice president Ronald Recidoro said.

“The law does not ban open-pit mining. Quite the contrary, the Constitution even gives the state the duty to explore, develop, and utilize our mineral resources. With this open-pit ban, she is essentially banning the mining of shallow ore deposits that can only be extracted using that method,” he added.

The industry group said that open-pit mining is an internationally accepted method, which can be done safely and properly. It said mines can be rehabilitated in a manner that allows for other land uses such as agriculture, fisheries, and tourism

“How does she propose to mine shallow mineral deposits found just two to 20 meters underground? Nickel, coal, marble and aggregates are normally found near the surface of the earth and can only be mined using open-pit and open-cast mining,” Recidoro said.

“She is ill-advised or this is her own thinking because she already has a preconceived thinking that she will not allow it as early as July last year. She does not think about the repercussions to the country as a whole,” COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon added in a separate text message.

While Environment Undersecretary Maria Paz Luna admitted that no consultation with the industry stakeholders has been made, she said it still within the discretion of the secretary to issue such decisions.

But, Recidoro maintained otherwise, citing a portion of the Revised Administrative Code, which requires public participation.

Should Lopez fail to get confirmed next week, the mining industry may be hopeful that the next secretary may counter the recent order.

“A department administrative order can be reviewed, revised, or even revoked by subsequent Environment secretaries,” Recidoro said.

‘Ban may lead to energy crisis’

Mining experts have already warned that banning open-pit mining in the country may affect energy supply nationwide.

“Open-pit mining is done in most countries around the world. It could be done safely and is one of the most economical methods in mining,” mines expert Gabriel Pamintuan Jr. of the University of the Philippines said.

Pamintuan cited Semirara Mining and Power Corp.’s (SMPC) open-pit mine as an example.

“Shutting down Semirara would mean a power crisis given that coal contributes an estimated 47 percent of Luzon’s power requirements. Calaca, which feeds on 100-percent Semirara open-pit coal, even if it only contributes seven percent to the peak power demand, is a base load plant. Any outage by base load power plants can trigger cascading brownouts that could extend to a Luzon-wide outage,” Pamintuan said.

SMPC produces 8 million metric tons of coal annually from its operations in the 55-square kilometer contract area in Semirara island with projected reserves expected to last until 2036. The coal being mined in the region is graded as sub-bituminuous with a heating value of 9,300 British thermal unit per pound, the highest quality of coal locally available.

Philex’s Silangan mine

Meanwhile, Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp.’s subsidiary Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. said it has yet to receive the official order from the DENR.

“We will await whatever order or issuance the secretary-designate would have regarding her pronounced ban on open-pit mining before we take the necessary decisive action,” Philex Public and Regulatory Affairs head Francis Ballesteros told The STAR.

“So far, all we know is that these are mere announcements made in a press conference or forum, as is the case with her previous pronouncements,” he added.

The mineral production sharing agreement of Silangan was cancelled last February because of its proximity to a watershed, but the company maintained otherwise and iterated that it is not violating any environmental law.

Philex earlier admitted that it is facing serious concern over the cancellation of Silangan’s copper and gold project in Surigao del Norte, which it expected to be its next big prospective mine with an investment opportunity of P40 billion.

The Silangan project is Philex’s next big prospective mine that will replace the Padcal copper-gold mine in Benguet whose mine life is expected to end by December 2022.

The company has invested over P13 billion for the initial exploration and related works on the site as of end-2014, on top of the estimated commercial-operations project cost of approximately $1.2 billion.

By 2020, the Silangan project is seen to generate P170 billion in revenues, P31 billion in national and local taxes and at least 8,000 employment opportunities for the first 10 years of operation.

Silangan Mining is also expected to spend P6 billion over the same period for social development and infrastructure programs that will benefit Mindanao.

By Louise Maureen Simeon (philstar.com) April 27, 2017

#DENRSecGinaLopez FB https://www.facebook.com/DENR-Sec-Gina-Lopez-1336083713118262/ #Duterte #NoToMining #DENR #NoToIllegalFishing #NoToIllegalLogging #LagunaFishPens #SaveTheEnvironment

https://balitangbalita.com/2017/04/22/mocha-balita-denr-sec-gina-lopez-seeking-the-help-of-the-new-peoples-army-to-monitor-mining-companies/

https://balitangbalita.com/2017/02/06/mocha-balita-denr-shuts-down-23-mining-areas/

https://balitangbalita.com/2017/03/13/mocha-balita-duterte-accuses-mining-firms-of-funding-destabilization

Duterte: BIASED Mass Media Inquirer Owners – MILE LONG and DUNKIN DONUTS TAX CHEATS

Inquirer owners’ unpaid rentals on govt’s ‘Mile Long’ prime property: P2B

pdi front pages mile long

(Photo) TWO PRESIDENTS, TWO TREATMENTS: Could the Mile Long case (background) explain it?

Mocha Balita: DENR Sec Gina Lopez seeking the help of the New People’s Army to MONITOR mining companies

A disaster if Gina is not confirmed

Ramon Tulfo – @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer April 22, 2017
(Photo: DENR Sec Gina Lopez and Mocha Uson visiting mining areas in Zambales)
mocha gina lopez

Why is Agusan del Sur, a province heavily mined and supposed to be earning tons of money from mining, still poor and has an insurgency problem?

The New People’s Army (NPA) is active in areas where poverty is prevalent.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez wanted to know and has found the answer: The P50-million social development and management program (SDMP) fund probably goes to corrupt mining officials in cahoots with local politicians.

The P50 million is set aside by mining companies in their sites of operation to be spent on communities surrounding the mining areas.

But the money, Lopez implies, is not being spent to improve the lives of the poor people in mining areas.

So, the chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has asked the NPA to monitor how the SDMP fund is being spent by the mining firms.

Lopez met with NPA leaders in Davao City, the last leg of her one-day trip on Tuesday, which took her to Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Davao City.

Accompanying her on the trip were former Bayan party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, former ambassador Joe Zaide, a columnist of the Manila Bulletin, and this columnist.

Lopez showed genuine concern for the welfare of the people in mining areas.

In a mining site our group visited in Surigao del Norte, Lopez berated officials after they lied that the mine was closed down years ago for an environmental disaster similar to the one that happened at Marcopper Mines in Marinduque province.

It will be a disaster for our environment and natural resources if she is not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) just because she has closed down many mining sites.

Several members of the CA have stakes in mining or are friends of mine company owners.

And, irony of ironies, a fellow Cabinet member is opposing her confirmation!

Gina Lopez—who as a private citizen was active in protecting the environment and our forests and rivers—is perhaps the only DENR chief who does not kowtow to politicians just so her appointment will be confirmed.

One of us asked Lopez on board the plane what she would do if her appointment is not confirmed.

“I’ll go back to protecting the environment as a private citizen,” she said.

#MochaGirls #MochaUson #SecGinaLopez #DENR #IllegalMining #IllegalLogging #IllegalFishPens #SaveTheEnvironment #Duterte #StopMining

 

Duterte: Anong klaseng sunog yan? Sueno’s firetrucks overpriced by more than 100%

dilg fire trucks

President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed that the firetrucks acquired from the Austrian government cost more than double the market rate for a firetruck.

In a speech Wednesday, Duterte said he fired Interior Secretary Mike Sueno in front of other Cabinet members for going to Austria and proceeding with the Austria firetruck deal which was already being challenged in the Supreme Court for being overpriced.

“Sabi ko bakit pumunta doon to sign, to buy it fire truck worth 18 million? Putang ina, anong klaseng sunog ‘yan? We’ll buy it at 7, 8. That’s the running price now over a fire truck made in Japan,” said Duterte.

“This guy has to go to sign despite the fact that the opinion of his lawyer, the legal officer of his office, says do not (sign),” said Duterte.

What made Duterte blow his top was Sueno’s insistence that he did not see the opinion of his legal officer during their confrontation in the Cabinet meeting. Duterte felt it was a bare-faced lie but he checked himself from hitting his former campaign booster.

“Gusto kong sampalin eh kaya lang nandiyan man sila ma’am. Sabi ko lang, ‘You’re fired. Go out of this office. I don’t need you’. I am not used to humiliating people but I really got pissed because he was lying,” said Duterte.

Politiko April 22, 2017

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DUTERTE: P-NOY AT MAR ROXAS YELLOW DILG MAFIA SA LIKOD NG PAGPATALSIK KAY SEC SUENO

Grabe naman itong si Sueno. Naniwala sa YELLOW DILG MAFIA ni Mar Roxas. Dapat sila Usec Panadero at Asec Aldana ay naFREEZER nuon pa mang July 2016 pero habang tumatagal lalo pa silang lumakas sa bagong pasok na si Sueno. Nanalo sa halalan si Presidente Duterte sa likod ng ANTI CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN kaya punong TAGAWALIS si Sueno sa DILG. Yun lang pinili ni Sec Sueno ang PERA sa halip na pumanig sa KABUTIHAN. Dapat CHANGE IS COMING eh WALANG PAGBABAGO pala ang motto ni Sueno, Panadero at Aldana.

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https://balitangbalita.com/2017/04/21/duterte-p-noy-at-mar-roxas-yellow-dilg-mafia-sa-likod-ng-pagpatalsik-kay-sec-sueno/ #DILG #SecretarySueno #Duterte #UsecPanadero #AsecAldana #ChangeIsComing #WalangPagbabago

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Duterte: Mega SHABU lab in Catanduanes

Catanduanes gov disowns ‘mega shabu lab,’ implicates NBI exec

Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

Dec 07 2016 pnp catanduanes matrix

MANILA – Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua on Wednesday vehemently denied any connection to a recently busted “mega shabu laboratory” in Virac town, linking instead a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) official to the facility that can produce hundreds of kilos of methamphetamine daily.

In a press conference, Cua said the lab, which is the biggest discovered in the country so far, sits on a land that belongs to a certain Sarah Sarmiento and leased by Angelica Balmadrid, the common-law wife of NBI Region 7 director, Atty. Eric Isidro.

Cua added that data gathered by his team shows that the mega shabu lab was constructed in 2015 under a different administration.

A Chinese national named Jason Gonzales Uy and three other unidentified Chinese men operated the laboratory in the guise of a plastic recycling warehouse, the governor added.

The four Chinese were allegedly tipped off by NBI agents or local police of the a day before the raid of the laboratory last November 26.

Cua went on to deny allegations that he dabbles with illicit drugs through his shipping business.

He surmised that his political detractors are responsible for dragging his name into the narcotics trade.

Insisting that he never had drug ties in his years of public service, he added that he is open to any investigation.

He said he has asked the Department of Justice to immediately start finding leads and uncover the mastermind behind the mega shabu lab.

Cua said Isidro is now being investigated.

Cua’s name was brought up by Senator Trillanes at a Senate inquiry on Monday, where he accused the Duterte administration of taking no action against drug bigwigs.

“May nahuli, just recently na pinakamalaking shabu factory sa Catanduanes. Kaya nga dina-doubt ko rin iyong sincerity nitong drug war na ito dahil iyong malalaking drug lords na pinapangalanan hanggang ngayon ay untouched. Hindi ginagalaw, hindi iniimbestigahan,” Trillanes said.

“So, may nahuli diyan, under the care ito ni Gov. Cua at Virac Mayor Laynes. Sila iyong nagsu-supply. Grabe ang supply nila. Hindi nga na-me-mention, even ni President Duterte.”

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P2M worth of shabu seized in Catanduanes

By: Fernan Gianan – Correspondent / @InquirerSLB
Inquirer Southern Luzon July 14, 2016

VIRAC, Catanduanes—Policemen in Pandan town in Catanduanes province recovered on Thursday morning more than P2 million worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) following a tip from an illegal drugs suspect.

Senior Supt. Jesus Martirez, provincial police director, said the stash of illegal drugs was dug up at 2 a.m. in Barangay  Balangonan.

He said they found the drugs based on a tip given by Randy Eusebio, 33, an abaca stripper, who was earlier arrested for drugs possession.

The stash, said to be the largest volume seized in the island province of Catanduanes, consisted of 71 packs with an estimated street value of P30,000 each, for a total value of P2.13 million.

Martirez said police raided Eusebio’s house in Barangay Libod, also in Pandan, two days earlier and found 12 sachets of shabu.

On the same day, police in the capital town of Virac searched the house of Noli Vargas in Barangay Concepcion and recovered a sachet of shabu. Vargas was not at home during the raid./rga
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Cops find drug lab in Catanduanes

Spike in electric bills, tips from suspects lead to ‘shabu’-making facility just 100 meters from highway
By: Fernan Gianan – Correspondent / @InquirerSLB
Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 28, 2016

 

VIRAC, Catanduanes—A spike in electricity bills from P1,000 to P50,000 monthly, which indicated unusual power consumption, led police to a warehouse that served as a drug laboratory just a few kilometers from the town proper here.

The laboratory, which sits on a 1,000 square meter lot that is part of a 400,000 square meter estate, was raided on Saturday but no arrests were made.

A team of lawmen, led by acting Virac police director Chief Insp. James Ronatay, found the drug lab just 100 meters from the main highway in the village of Palta Small at a raid past 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Information about the existence of the drug lab came from several drug suspects from the Bicol region, who had told police that they got their supply from a source in Catanduanes.

Police worked on the information with the help of Google maps, locating buildings that bear the trademarks of one that is being used as a drug lab—they’re unusually large and located in remote areas.

A building in Palta Small stood out for its unusually high consumption of electricity.

Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes, citing records from the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative (Ficelco), said during the first months of the year, the warehouse’s power bill ranged from just P1,000 to P1,500 a month.

Starting in June, the warehouse consumed an average of P50,000 a month in electricity.

The raiding team found the building locked and its owner, a Filipino-Chinese identified as Jayson Gonzales Uy, was nowhere to be found. Witnesses said Uy had left the area as early as Friday afternoon.

Found inside the warehouse, ringed by CCTV cameras, were two rooms keeping pieces of equipment that police said are being used to manufacture “shabu” (methampethamine hydrochloride).

Also found were hundreds of water containers, sealed plastic pails, several freezers, electrical equipment and three machines that have yet to be installed. Police said the machines are for the manufacture of shabu, too.

Police also found chemical containers, digital weighing scales, plastic bags and a notebook with Chinese words and numerals beside the letters “kgs,” which apparently meant kilograms.

Angelica Balmadrid, owner of the property and wife of National Bureau of Investigation agent Eric Isidoro assigned to the anti-illegal drug team in Manila, confirmed that she had leased the land to Uy in March last year.

She said she met Uy in San Isidro Village in February 2015. Balmadrid said she is leasing a total of 400,000 square meters from the heirs of Ulpiano and Sarah Sarmiento and sub-leased 1,000 square meters of the land to Uy.

Balmadrid said Uy introduced himself as Paulo and a resident of Baclaran in Paranaque City.

Uy, according to Balmadrid, had said he wanted to build a plastic factory after seeing demand for plastic ware in Virac.

Construction of the warehouse was finished in September 2015. Balmadrid said she had not visited the land leased by Uy since.

When she accompanied the raiding team on Saturday, Balmadrid said she was surprised to see how big the warehouse is but knew it to be manufacturing only plastic products.

The structure is L-shaped and about two stories tall. It could not be seen from the highway, though.

When the raiding team entered the building, the noxious smell of chemicals greeted it.

Chief Insp. Josephine Clemen, Catanduanes crime laboratory officer-in-charge, said the machines that have not been installed indicated that the drug lab is being upgraded.

#PNPDrugWar #WarOnDrugs #Duterte

 

 

 

Duterte: P-Noy at Mar Roxas YELLOW DILG MAFIA sa likod ng PAGPATALSIK kay Sec Sueno

Grabe naman itong si Sueno. Naniwala sa YELLOW DILG MAFIA ni Mar Roxas. Dapat sila Usec Panadero at Asec Aldana ay naFREEZER nuon pa mang July 2016 pero habang tumatagal lalo pa silang lumakas sa bagong pasok na si Sueno. Nanalo sa halalan si Presidente Duterte sa likod ng ANTI CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN kaya punong TAGAWALIS si Sueno sa DILG. Yun lang pinili ni Sec Sueno ang PERA sa halip na pumanig sa KABUTIHAN. Dapat CHANGE IS COMING eh WALANG PAGBABAGO pala ang motto ni Sueno, Panadero at Aldana.

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