DAVAO CITY – A member of the city council slammed the country’s mining bureau for making statements against pending national and local laws intended to make Davao City mining-free.

Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang said the comments of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-11 Mines Management Division officer-in-charge lawyer Wilfredo Moncano in a television interview were “uncalled for.”

Moncano said that a bill (House Bill 483) seeking to ban all mining activities in Davao City is “not consistent with national laws”, specifically Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate filed House Bill 4348 seeking prohibition of all mining operations in Davao City.

Dayanghirang, who authored an earlier ordinance, which seeks to declare Davao City as a “mining-free” zone, said he had already prepared a committee report as the former chairperson of the Committee on the Environment.

Dayanghirang said although MGB officials were “entitled to their own opinion, they should have waited and let the legislative process take its course. They should have raised it in a proper venue like a committee hearing.”

“The Local Government Code is also a national law and it says that we ensure that the inhabitants are well-protected,” said Dayanghirang.

“If the MGB really wants to intervene, it can go to court like what DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resouces) did in Tampakan,” he said.

South Cotabato’s Tampakan is the site of a billion-peso mining investment funded by Swiss mining firm Glencore with local partner SMI.

Dayanghirang said the ordinance he authored excludes mining ban on sand and gravel and limestone extraction because “these are not dangerous to Davao City inhabitants.”

“In contrast, multinational firms which would mine metals like gold and copper will destroy our rivers,” he said.

Representative Luz Ilagan of Gabriela women’s partylist said “as usual, the DENR is lawyering for mining companies.”

“Is it not a contradiction that the agency tasked to protect the environment is also incharge of giving permits to destroy the environment?” Ilagan added.

In 2011, MRC Allied Inc., said to be owned by tobacco and airline magnate Lucio Tan has acquired the mining rights of Pensons Mining Corporation over an 8, 470 hectares project in Paquibato District in Davao City. (davaotoday.com)

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