The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on July 27 nullified a portion of former secretary Gina Lopez’s order by lifting the moratorium on exploration permits for metallic and non-metallic minerals.
Based on DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2018-13 signed by Secretary Roy Cimatu, the department is lifting the moratorium on the acceptance, processing and approval of applications for exploration permits.
In July 2016, Lopez ordered the audit of all operating and suspended mines while the moratorium covered the acceptance, processing and approval of applications and projects for all metallic and non-metallic minerals.
DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said Lopez’s order was questionable because exploration is allowed under the Executive Order 79 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III. The EO only prohibits new mining contracts.
“She kind of overstepped her authority. It is legally accepted to explore. The DAO, issued by a Secretary, should not overpower an EO, which is issued by a President,” Leones told The Philippine STAR in an interview.
“(The government) does not have capability to identify the extent of our mineral reserves. The exploration permits would only identify and determine the volume and location of our minerals,” he added.
Leones emphasised that allowing mining companies to explore would help determine whether mining really remains to be a good industry for the country.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau noted that the move is also in line with President Duterte’s economic agenda, particularly on increasing competitiveness and the ease of doing business to attract more local and foreign investors to the country.