Palace backs Lopez’s crackdown on erring mining firms

The presidential office threw its full weight behind the decision of Environment Secretary Regina Oaz “Gina” Lopez to cancel 75 mining contracts involving watersheds, The Manila Times Online reported on Thursday.

President spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the cancellation of the mining contracts by Lopez was consistent with Republic Act 7942 that mining applications are closed to proclaimed watershed forest reserves.

Lopez, a former environmental activist, earlier ordered the closure of 23 erring mining companies and the suspension of five others for damaging watersheds and for “indiscriminate” mining.

Abella, however, said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources must establish that due process was followed.

“The DENR is to issue a show-cause order for concerned mining companies and they will be given seven days to reply,” he added.

Meanwhile, chief presidential legal counsel Salvado Panelo said mining firms have legal remedies under the law and can file motions for reconsideration.