To ensure responsible mining and protect the environment, Senator Dick Gordon has proposed to amend Presidential Decree 1586 or the Environmental Impact Statement System Law by imposing higher fines on erring mining companies.
Gordon filed Senate Bill No. 1633 also known as An Act Amending Section 9 of Presidential Decree 1586 by Increasing the Penalties Thereof and for Other Purposes.
The bill proposes a fine ranging from P500,000 to P2-million for every violation of the terms and conditions in the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, the standards, and rules and regulation issued by the National Environmental Protection Council pursuant to the said presidential decree, depending on the effect and damage caused by the violation.
“We have to raise the penalty for mining violations. The fines provided for in Presidential Decree 1586 have to be updated because the maximum penalty of P50,000 (and in some instances, a paltry P25,000) is not realistic anymore,” the veteran legislator said.
“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,” the seasoned lawmaker added.
The proposed legislation was filed in line with one of the recommendations made by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in the committee report it submitted after conducting an inquiry into the reported destructive mining operations or illegal excavations in Zambales.
Gordon, chair of the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers & Investigations (Blue Ribbon), pointed out 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.
“What we need is responsible mining. Responsible mining is finding ways to extract and process mineral resources with the least environmental disruption and damage. Mining need not be stopped but it must be adequately regulated,” Gordon said in the committee report.
“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?” he asked.
“If buses and jeepneys figure in road mishaps because of lack of discipline among drivers or lack of proper maintenance of the vehicles, do we prevent the entire land transportation industry from plying the streets? No, because these industries are crucial to our everyday lives. We stop the violators, impose stricter regulations and ensure full compliance,” the senator from Olongapo and Zambales stressed.