Feature: Harmonization of mining and food production policies

Friday, December 16, 2011

Feature: Harmonization of mining and food production policies

The stark choice facing the Philippines is between a few years of mining and thousands of years of irrigated rice and fisheries production.

This brings to fore the issues and concerns of local government units and other government agencies on the issuance of mining or exploration permits by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on agricultural and food production areas such as irrigated rice fields and marine habitats.

In order to address this concern, an “Inter-agency Task Force for the Harmonization of Mining and Food Production Policies” was created by the concerned central departments and offices through the DA-DAR-DENR National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development.

In the Joint Special Order No. 03, Series of 2011, dated September 15, 2011, the Task Force is chaired by Undersecretary Demetrio L. Ignacio of DENR Policy and Planning and co-chaired by DA-DAR-DENR National Convergence Initiative President Marriz B. Agbon.

The Task Force members include Undersecretary Bernadette Romilo-Puyat of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Undersecretary Jerry E. Pacturan of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Undersecretary Austere A. Panadero of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Director Leo L. Jasareno of MGB, Director Asis G. Perez of the Bureau on Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Administrator Antonio S. Nangel of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

"We are glad that the Central Offices of government agencies are making progress in harmonizing our policies. This is a milestone for getting the stakeholders involved and convene where we can improve and promote both, the mining and the food industries," MGB Eastern VIsayas regional director Roger A. De Dios said.

SP Leyte Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chairman Atty. Roque Tiu said this is an answered prayer to the legislative body’s request for the government agencies to talk together and harmonize their mining policies to prevent confusion in the local government units.

Tiu said government agencies concerned have started to listen to what the LGUs and the other government agencies have to say about mining and food production

MGB-8 RD De Dios has started organizing dialogues with other national line agencies such as DA and NIA not only to discuss matters such as the Salient Features of the Philippine Mining Act and environmental issues relative to mining but to invite each agency to designate a representative in the monitoring of the mining company’s operations, rehabilitation programs, social development projects, and other environmental protection activities.

RD De Dios said that there’s a need for the affected government agencies to cooperate and participate particularly in these operations where agricultural lands are affected.

"There are concerns here that go beyond mining. Some say, that through mining, farming and soil composition have been affected, irrigation and drainage systems disturbed, rivers and creeks re-channeled and even marine habitats along coastlines polluted. Hence, linkaging with these agencies is essential so that when issues arise, those will be addressed not only by the MGB but with the concerned stakeholders," RD De Dios reflected.

The regional director has also scheduled a meeting with the officials of BFAR and DAR on the first quarter of the following year. (PIA 8)

Cabatuan.com - Kasimanwa.com - Austere Panadero

Boracay, Aklan