Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said that President Aquino’s EO 79 ordering the moratorium on new mining agreements looks good on paper but the true challenge will be in its implementation.
“EO 79 basically seeks to increase government revenue from mining as well as protect agricultural lands and ecotourism areas from irresponsible mining operations. This also includes a review on existing mining agreements entered into by the government, large scale and small scale,” she said.
“There is really no problem with the EO, and the bigger issue would be in its implementation. The government must be firm in its crackdown on illegal mining operations, and set standards especially for small scale mining which has caused countless accidents in the past couple of years because of unsafe practices,” she said.
Magsaysay said that government must be firm in setting sanctions for those who will be caught violating rules and regulations because mining as a business is a very lucrative one, and sadly for many, this comes with a cost. By compromising safety standards, oftentimes the gold ores that miners get to feed their families often cost them their lives when their mining sites erode due to abusive practices. Small scale mining has been placed in the backburners for so long, with the focus being on large scale mining but the government should equally pay attention to the needs of both industries.
“The government should mean business, from catching the violators until holding them accountable. It should not be catching them and then letting the cases rot in the courts. And then a dummy corporation will take over and its going to be the same deal all over again. The business aspect of the EO is all well and good but in the end, it is just one component of the EO. Ningas kugon has no place in a mission like protecting the lives of employees in the mining sector and the environment. The government should not expect the issuance of the EO to be like a magic wand which will make all existing problems go away. This will not happen overnight. This needs long term commitment or else this endeavor will not bear any fruit,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with mining as an industry so long as it is done in moderation and in accordance to the needs of development.”