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Hefty fines vs erring mining firms pushed

Higher fines await erring mining companies following the filing of a bill in the Senate which seeks to increase to as much as P2 million the from the existing P25,000 to P50,000 penalty the violations being committed by irresponsible mining companies.

Sen. Richard Gordon, in filing Senate Bill 1633, sought to amend the provisions of Presidential Decree 1586 to effect the imposition of higher fines for every mining violation, depending on the effect and damage to environment.
The move is to ensure responsible mining and for the protection of the environment, he said.
Gordon cited the need to update existing penalties as the maximum fine being slapped against irresponsible mining firms is only at P50,000 and in some instances, a paltry P25,000 which is not realistic anymore.
“This is why I am also proposing that the violator be made to shoulder the full cost of the rehabilitation, reparation or restoration of the damage caused by their violation,” he said.
This is in line with one of the recommendations made by the Senate blue ribbon committee in its report following the conduct of an inquiry into the reported destructive mining operations or illegal excavations in Zambales.
“What we need is responsible mining. Responsible mining is finding ways to extract and process mineral resources with the least environmental disruption and damage,” he said.
Mining operations, he pointed out, need not be stopped but it must be adequately regulated.
Gordon said that while the government deplores the contribution of indiscriminate and untrammeled mining activities to environmental degradation, mining operations bring jobs and money into the local economy, spur the creation of farm-to-market roads, create infrastructure, and provide electricity, all contributing to economic progress.
“We do not have to burn the whole house to catch a rat. If a commercial plane crashes because the airline did not follow maintenance standards, do we ban the entire aviation industry from flying the skies? If buses and jeepneys figure in a road mishaps because of lack of discipline among drivers or lack of proper maintenance of the vehicles, do we prevent the entire land transportation from plying the streets? No, because these industries are crucial to our every lives. We stop the violations, impose stricter regulations and endure full compliance,” he stressed.
The bill proposes a monetary penalty for every violation of the terms and conditions in the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate, standards, rules and regulations issued by the National Environmental Protection Council pursuant to PD 1586 or the Environmental Impact Statement System Law.

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