Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are investigating the mining audit conducted by the Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The audit, held upon the assumption to office of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, led to the closure of 23 mining companies and suspension in the operation of 5 other mining firms.
Former Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno is facing the hearing of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability as a resource person.
Jasareno led the audit team and he said he was hired as DENR consultant from October to December, 2016.
He told legislators that Lopez created a technical review committee and several mining firms were found to have committed violations.
He said this result prompted the committee to recommend the suspension of the mining companies’ Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).
Lawmakers wanted to know why the recommendation for suspension was not followed by Lopez and she proceeded to order the closure of the mining firms.
Lopez, however, was not on hand to answer questions as she is on a trip to the United States.
Surigao Del Norte Representative Ace Barbers is concerned about the effects of the DENR's move.
He claimed employment in his district will be gravely affected by the DENR’s closure order.
Barbers also questioned the role of Jasareno in the audit team
Jasareno reported that six mining companies in Surigao were recommended for closure.
He, however, clarified that DENR has not actually stopped the operations of any of the mining firms at this time.