THE Philippines Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is allocating P50 million to fund the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) teams that will review the mine closure and suspension orders issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The MICC, co-chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez, has created a technical working group (TWG) to supervise the work of five technical review teams (TRTs) after the DENR ordered 23 mining operations closed and five others suspended. The DENR also cancelled 75 mining contracts in various phases of development.

Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno has informed Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd that the money will come from the government’s contingency fund, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement.

As a result, the MICC will ask for a permanent allocation under the national budget beginning with the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2018.

“This MICC has never been funded. So, I think, for the 2018 budget we will propose that we will do that,” Carlos Dominguez was quoted as saying in a press briefing after the MICC meeting on Friday. “It’s been done (with other similar councils) so we can do it.”

It is only proper that the MICC be given a permanent allocation under the national budget, given its task mandated by Executive Order 79 is to review all 311 mining contracts in the country once every two years, he noted.

The MICC started the process of selecting the members of the review teams on Monday after the council earlier approved the guidelines on conducting an “objective, fact-finding, science-based” review of mining operations nationwide, initially covering those ordered closed or suspended by the DENR.

Carlos Dominguez said the review will be done “in accordance with existing guidelines and parameters set forth in the specific mining contracts concerned and other pertinent laws rules and regulations”.

The members of the TRT “shall be qualified, certified or licensed persons in their fields of expertise and experienced in mining operations and who shall be independent and have no known conflict of interest”.

Each team will comprise a geologist, mining engineer or metallurgical engineer, lawyer, community relations officer, environmental management officer, economic representatives of local government units hosting mining operations, as well as representatives from the DoF, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development and other concerned government agencies.

“An ad hoc review management unit or RMU and five TRTs shall be organised to manage and undertake the review, respectively,” Carlos Dominguez said.

“The RMU shall manage the review through the provision of office space, provide administrative and financial services, hire individual experts and consolidate documents and reports for submission to the council,” he added.

The TRTs have been given three months to finish the review delving on the technical, legal, social, environmental and economic aspects of mining operations.

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