File photo by Joel Liporada/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Saying it was a Valentine's gift to the people, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Tuesday, February 14, announced the cancellation of a total of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) in watersheds all over the country.
"As DENR's gift of love on Valentine's Day, we give you the gift of life," Lopez said at the start of her news briefing on Tuesday.
Lopez said the following number of MPSAs in watersheds will be cancelled: 37 in Mindanao, 11 in the Visayas, and 27 in Luzon.
She said that show cause orders will be issued to the concerned mining firms, which will have 7 days to reply. The orders will be issued either today or tomorrow, Lopez added.
"What happens when you adversely affect a watershed? You dry up the resources....There should be no mining in watershed areas," Lopez said.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, an MPSA is "a mineral agreement wherein Government shares in the production of the Contractor, whether in kind or in value, as owner of the minerals. In return, the Contractor shall provide the necessary financing, technology, management and personnel for the mining project."
The environment chief made the announcement nearly two weeks after she bared the results of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) mining audit, or the closure of 23 mining operations in the country and the suspension of 5 others.
Mining groups and even some Cabinet officials have expressed concern over the February 2 DENR decision, pointing to job losses and lost revenues for host communities and the national government.
Following a Cabinet meeting where the issue was taken up, President Rodrigo Duterte promised miners "due process" in the closure and suspension of mining operations. The decision can still be appealed with the Office of the President.
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.