A HOUSE leader on Friday expressed support for Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea’s decision to suspend the imposition of a P2-million trust fund for every hectare of land disturbed by mining operations, and order issued by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said the suspension was a welcome development.
“The suspension is not an opposition to Secretary Gina’s proposed additional mine fund,” said Barbers, head of the House committee on dangerous drugs.
“The DENR Secretary has to understand that this is all part of due process. Mining companies have appealed to the Office of the President, therefore it is only imperative that they be given immediate relief until the President decides on the petitions.”
Barbers said Medialdea’s decision was legal as the executive secretary had jurisdiction over the appeals filed with the Office of the President.
“I firmly believe that ES Medialdea deferred the mine fund not because he counters President Duterte’s policy against destructive mining operations but because the petitions center on this controversial trust fund,” Barbers said.
On Thursday, Assistant Finance Secretary Paola Alvarez said the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council was seeking a P50-million budget so it could hire independent experts to reassess the operations of the 311 mining firms as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The 311 include the 28 mines shuttered or suspended by the Environment department.