Comply with laws or cease operations, Cimatu tells mining firms

Mining companies must comply with all existing mining and environmental laws if they want their operations to continue.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu issued this warning as he promised the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be strict in exercising its regulatory powers to reduce to the minimum the environmental impacts of mining operations in the country.

"While our laws allow the exploration of our natural resources, those privileged will have to adhere to strict rules and regulations, and always focused on the national interest," Cimatu said following a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte and representatives of mining civil society organizations in Malacanang last Thursday.

Cimatu said the DENR will continue to promote responsible use of natural resources and environmental protection in the mining sector.

"We will protect the environment and the affected communities, and optimize the use of the country's natural resources for the common good," he stressed.

At the same time, the former Armed Forces chief warned that violators will be dealt with the full force of the law.

"We will punish those who violate relevant regulations by imposing the highest possible penalties provided by law," he said.

He added: "The DENR will partner with local government units, concerned communities and the private sector, and mobilize all concerned to pinpoint the culprits and punish them."

Meanwhile, Cimatu assured that the DENR is conducting a thorough review of an earlier mining audit, which recommended the suspension or closure of several mining operations.

"We are carefully reviewing each and every company in accordance with existing laws and, of course, based on fact and the evidence," Cimatu said.

He said the DENR properly adheres to due process and gives all concerned firms and sectors the chance to raise their concerns.

"We will not be rushed to judgment," Cimatu said. #