No need for an MICC audit

Sometime last April, the PH’s Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), an inter-agency body headed by government (DENR, DOF as co-convenors), chamber of mines and NGOs, planned a 2nd audit to re-assess the decision of then DENR Sec. Gina Lopez to close and suspend 28 big mining firms in the country.

list-of-mines-ordered-closed-and-suspended_CNNPH

Now the MICC is hesitating what to do, see the news from Manila Bulletin, MICC-led mining review in limbo, June 9, 2017.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) assistant director Danilo Uykieng said there is “no update yet” as to when the MICC will finally start the audit.

“No update or meeting schedule yet. The last meeting was the short-listing of the experts for the technical team and budget recommendation for approval,” Uykieng told Business Bulletin, adding that the said meeting happened in April, even before Lopez was bypassed by the CA on May 2.

In a separate text exchange, Agabin confirmed that the MICC has not yet started the controversial review.

“We are still vetting the members of the review team and finalizing the Terms of Reference for the review. After this, we need to procure their services following government procurement procedures.”

If Gina Lopez remains as DENR Secretary, I think that MICC-led second audit is necessary because the Lopez-led audit was secret, they just ordered the suspension and/or closure.

Around March this year, I saw a video coverage of a mining forum with Dr. Caloy Arcilla (UP NIGS) and Engr. Gab Pamintuan (UP Coll. of Eng’g.) as speakers. Caloy said that some of his former students who are now personnel/officers of MGB were telling him that a DENR USec told them, “hanapan nyo ng butas para mapasara ang mga mining companies na yan”. Caloy did not say who was the USec, and there were two prominent USecs of Gina that time, Atty. Ipat Luna and Mr. Jasareno.

I don’t know Jasareno but I have debated Ipat a few times in the past — she’s anti-GMO, anti-fossil fuel, anti-coal, anti-mining, etc. So I thought it was her. But later on I read that Ms. Jasareno was among the shrewd guys in the Lopez leadership, so perhaps it was him. I don’t know.

Back to the topic, since the MGB conducts a regular, quarterly audit and monitoring of big mining firms, these reports should be made more transparent to the public. If there are valid, technical questions, perhaps that’s the time for the MICC to step in.

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