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House measures declaring three areas as mine-free zones up for Senate nod

Thursday, April 18, 2019 12:00 AM    Views : 161by:Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz

The house of Representatives has endorsed for Senate approval measures declaring several areas in the country as mining-free zones.

The lower chamber transmitted to the upper chamber House Bill 8816 declaring the third district of Palawan a mining-free zone, HB 8815 seeking to declare Davao Oriental a mining-free zone and HB 8951 that prohibits all forms of mining operations and activities within the jurisdiction of Nueva Vizcaya.

HB 8816 declares the third district of Palawan a mining-free zone, and prohibits all forms of mining operations and activities within its territorial jurisdiction.

As stated in HB 8816, “mining” shall refer to the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological

materials, excluding quarrying of gravel, sand and marble. Such shall include large-scale and small-scale mining activities involving exploration, feasibility, development, utilization and processing.

Any person, natural or juridical, or any public officer, who violates the provisions of the act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six to 12 years, and fine of P1 million to P10 million. Any public officer who violates the act shall also be dismissed from the service and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

For Davao Oriental, HB 8815, or the proposed Davao Oriental Mining-Free Zone Act declares Davao Oriental a mining-free zone hurdles final reading

Rep. Joel Mayo Z. Almario of Davao Oriental, principal author of the measure, said in the explanatory note of his bill that an alarming and pressing issue that the country is facing is that Davao Oriental sits on a 320-kilometer fault line that stretches from Surigao province up to Compostela Valley.

This is based on the finding by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology-Department of Science and Technology together with the members of the Department of Geophysics at Kyoto University and the Department of Geography at Hiroshima University.

HB 8815 shall prohibit all forms of mining operations and activities in Davao Oriental, whether large-scale or small-scale. It shall also monitor the quarrying activities within the province.

The bill also provides that all valid and existing mining contracts, exploration permits, licenses, technical and financial agreements and mineral production sharing agreements in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the “Philippine Mining Act of 1995” shall be recognized by the government and shall remain valid until its expiration.

However, the bill states that no further extension or renewal of contract, permit, license or agreement shall be granted thereafter.

Exploration permits to conduct further exploration activities or application for extension shall, likewise, be prohibited.

The bill also seeks to terminate all small-scale mining contracts enunciated in RA 7076 or the “People’s Small-scale Mining Act of 1991.” Affected contractors shall be given one year to undertake rehabilitation, regeneration and reforestation of mineralized areas, slope stabilization of mined-out and tailing-covered areas, watershed development and water preservation. As for quarrying, issuance of permits in the miningfree zone shall be under the direct supervision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The bill stipulates that violators of the act’s provisions shall be penalized with imprisonment of six to 12 years and a fine of P1 million to P10 million.

Meanwhile, HB 8951 seeks to prohibit all forms of mining operations and activities within the jurisdiction of Nueva Vizcaya.

Under the bill, all valid and existing contracts, exploration, permits, licenses, technical agreements, and mineral production sharing agreements in accordance with RA 7942 or the “Philippine Mining Act of 1995” covering any area of the province at the date of effectivity of the measure shall be recognized and remain valid until its termination or expiration.

However, the government shall not issue new exploration permits or similar other agreements within the jurisdiction of the province.

Exploration activities and mining operations under existing exploration permits, mineral agreements and other similar agreements shall be undertaken immediately by the permittee or contractor.

Small-scale mining contracts shall also be canceled upon the effectivity of the measure. Affected contractors have one year from the time the measure takes into effect to undertake rehabilitation, regeneration, and reforestation of mineralized areas, slope stabilization of mined-out and tailing covered areas, watershed development and water preservation.

Violators of the measure shall face penalty of imprisonment of six months to 12 years, as well as a fine of not less than P10 million.

Source: https://www.pressreader.com/philippines/businessmirror/20190418/281595241926735

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