The committees tasked to craft the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order 79 or the new mining policy were asked to reconcile conflicting laws governing the operations of small-scale mining in the country.
The call was made after Benguet Federation of Small-Scale Miners Inc. president Lomino Kaniteng told reporters Wednesday that the new mining policy will deal a telling blow on the lives of more or less 30,000 small-scale miners and their families if the supposed conflicting laws and “gray areas” of EO 79 are not properly addressed in the crafting of the IRR.
The IRR of EO 79 is expected to be out for implementation before Sept. 10.
Prior to the issuance of EO 79, the operations of large and small-scale mining are governed by two laws, Presidential Decree 1899 and Republic Act 7076, which Kaniteng suggested must be reconciled by the IRR of EO 79.
Under PD 1899, local government units have the power to issue permits to small-scale mining operations while EO 79 never mentioned the same law but instead directed that small-scale mining activities will be done in compliance to RA 7076.
Earlier reports mentioned an opinion from the Department of Justice that small-scale mining should be governed by RA 7076, which apparently repealed PD 1899. RA 7076 also gives the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the power to make changes in the issuance and operations of small-scale miners.
Small-scale miners groups want to know if the requirements for large-scale mining like securing environmental compliance certificate will be applied to the small-scale mining sector.
Kaniteng clarified their group welcomed the identification of a minahang bayan as required by RA 7076 and EO 79 but said the group’s application for minahang bayan in Bakun, Benguet in 2004 was not acted upon by the DENR.
“RA 7076 is inutile in Benguet because not one minahang bayan was ever approved in the province. That’s a million dollar question,” Kaniteng said.
Benguet Vice Gov. Crescensio Pacalso, who hails from the mineral-rich town of Itogon, said the provincial board deferred action on the passage of a provincial small-scale mining code following the issuance of the new mining policy.
Pacalso expressed hope that the IRR of EO 79 will address the concerns raised by the small-scale miners associations, saying their operation is vital to the economic growth of Benguet.
Kaniteng said the 70 small-scale miners associations in Benguet produce three to four tons of gold annually and it had become a business to thousands of families.
Other concerns tackled in the formulation of the IRR of EO 79 is the power of local government units to regulate or impose local policies on mining operations.
Section 12 of EO 79 has directed LGUs to ensure that ordinances or policies on mining must be consistent with and conform to the regulations, decisions, and policies already promulgated and taken by the national government.