PGMA:  THE MINING  ACT  ITSELF  SAFEGUARDS  THE  PEOPLE

PARACALE,  CAMARINES NORTE, April 19, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today allayed fears of the alleged negative effects of mining operations on the environment, and assured residents living in mining communities that the Mining Act itself safeguards their safety and that of their environment.

The adverse effects associated with mining operations include erosion and physical defilement of the environment. Residents of this town who, for decades, have been exposed to mining, have expressed apprehension that the resumption of mining operations here could bring new risks to them.

Allaying such fear, President Arroyo said the Mining Act of 1995 was precisely enacted to make mining sustainable and to safeguard the people and the environment from the risks associated with old mining practices.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Michael Defensor echoed the Presidentís statement and assured that with the Mining Act of 1995 in place, the welfare of the people and the environment is protected.

Defensor said the Mining Act has several "protective" features that guarantee the safety of the people and environment under its Environment Protection and Enhancement Program and Insurance Liability program.

Under the Environment Protection and Enhancement Program, mining firms are required to replace trees or crops destroyed as a result of mining operations. It also requires mining companies to set up nurseries and reforest portions of the landscape denuded by its operations.

The Insurance Liability program requires mining companies to set up an environment fund that can be used for emergency purposes "in case something goes wrong" during the mining operations.

The mining law, Defensor said, also requires heads of states to be co-signers in agreements on mining projects to ensure that their respective governments are aware of their responsibilities in mining operations within the jurisdiction of either country.

Defensor took the opportunity to stress and assure the people that his department would do everything necessary to ensure their safety as well as that of their environment.

"To the people of Paracale and Bicol, we promise that the environment would be left as it is when mining operators begin their work," Defensor promised.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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