President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to require small- and large-scale mining firms to comply with policies that ensure safe working conditions for mining workers.
In a meeting with DENR officials at Malacañan Palace on Tuesday, Mr. Marcos lamented the failure of mining firms, particularly those involved in illegal activities, to provide adequate safety measures inside the mines.
“The miners are victims here. They have no safety. A lot of them die,” he said.
The President said there is a need to enhance social protection and security for workers in the mining industry. “We might be able to access financing, they might be able to access social protection.”
He also asked the agency to ensure that standards are updated and that mining firms are strictly implementing health programs for workers.
The Cxief Executive further urged the DENR to address bottlenecks to regulate the small-scale mining industry.
“We want to legalize the small-scale mining firms because many of them are illegal, so the miners have no protection),” Mr. Marcos said, adding that “we want to strengthen the regulatory framework so they can operate legally, to give our miners assistance and protection for their safe work.”
Mr. Marcos earlier called for the amendment of the Republic Act (RA) 7076 or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 to incentivize small-scale mining and provide social assistance and labor protection for all small-scale miners.
“I think for now the need is for the regulatory capabilities, especially the small scale,” the President said.
Under the law, small-scale mining refers to a mining activity that relies heavily on manual labor using simple implementations and methods.
RA 7076 also pertains to small-scale mining as an activity that “does not use explosives or heavy mining equipment.”
The DENR expressed commitment to review mining laws, including small-scale mining, to ensure that standards are updated and that the provision of the implementing rules and regulations takes full advantage of remote sensing and innovation in artificial intelligence.
Mining accounts for less than 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), although the Marcos administration is eyeing the industry to be one of the major contributors to the country’s economic development.
It has been estimated that 70 to 80 percent of small-scale miners in the Philippines operate illegally. With Vito Barcelo