Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), committed to strictly monitor the Tampakan copper-gold project on its environmental protection and rehabilitation obligations once it resumes operations.
 
DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna made the commitment following the amendment of the Environment Code of South Cotabato, particularly on the lifting of the open-pit mining ban, which was approved on third and final reading by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South Cotabato on May 16.
 
The move signals Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), the proponent of the Tampakan copper-gold project, to proceed with the development of the area, and eventually, commercial extraction of minerals.
 
“The environment will not be sacrificed. We will see to it that the soon-to-commence Tampakan copper-gold project will be strictly monitored in compliance with applicable mining and environmental laws, rules, and regulations,” Sampulna said.
 
“We will also require SMI to invest in equipment and manpower to ensure mitigation in case of any adverse impacts from the mining operation,” he added.
 
Meanwhile, DENR-MGB Director Wilfredo G. Moncano assured that there are existing modern technologies that can address the potential environmental impact of the mining operations.
 
“We also have the DENR policy that requires mining companies to provide funds in all stages of the mining operation necessary for environmental protection and enhancement,” he said.
 
The DENR-MGB is tasked to create a multipartite monitoring team that will be responsible for the conduct of quarterly environmental monitoring and audit of the mining company’s operation to ensure it is in line with environmental laws.
 
It is also set to convene the Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committee (MRFC) to oversee the management and utilization of the funds for SMI’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program, progressive rehabilitation, and social development through livelihood activities for residents living close to the project area.
 
The MRFC and the multipartite monitoring team will likely be composed of officials and personnel from the DENR and its regional bureaus, community representatives, civic and non-government organizations, local government units, and the contractor or permit holder.
 
Moncano said that all other major requirements to legally support the mining operation had been complied with by SMI.
 
These include the Environmental Compliance Certificate and the Certification Precondition from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples after the Free and Prior Informed Consent process was undertaken and memorandum of agreement was signed by SMI and the indigenous peoples.
 
Moncano underscored the potential benefit of the multi-billion Tampakan copper-gold project, as it is seen to generate the country’s much-needed economic activities and additional government revenues to fight the pandemic and help the country’s economic recovery.
 
He pointed out that the support of the national and local governments will encourage foreign and local companies to invest in the country. ###
 
 
 
 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna has ordered the strengthening of measures to preserve terrestrial and marine biodiversity in mining operations.

In signing DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2022-04 or the “Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Protection in Mining Operations,” Sampulna said the order intends to provide guidelines on responsible mining to ensure the protection and mitigation of the negative effects of the activities to biodiversity.

Moreover, Sampulna said that the directive, which covers all stages of on-shore and off-shore mining operations, will intensify strict implementation of responsible mining practices.

“With this new order, we believe that mining companies will be more mindful of their practices in utilizing the country’s natural and mineral resources,” he pointed out.

“We have repeatedly mentioned in the past that mineral extracting operations can be done responsibly, that the rich biodiversity within the mine site can be protected. Thus, this order is expected to support our responsible mining initiative,” he said.

DAO 2022-04 requires mining contractors, permit holders, and permittees to include biodiversity measures in their respective Environmental Work Program, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program, and Final Mine Rehabilitation and/or Decommissioning Plan.

These biodiversity measures will be integrated in all stages of mining operations, including exploration, development and utilization, closure, decommissioning, and rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, the order also mandates the progressive rehabilitation, or temporary revegetation of disturbed areas, to be undertaken at every stage of mining operation to restore mined-out areas and allow regeneration of the biodiversity to preserve “ecosystem goods and services.”

The order, published on April 21, also prompts mining companies to integrate biodiversity conservation and protection in their Social Development and Management Program (SDMP).

SDMP is the five-year plan of mining contractors and permit holders, which contains plans to support the development and empowerment of host and neighboring communities.

DAO 2022-04 identified various SDMP measures such as “inclusion of biodiversity-friendly enterprises, propagation of native plants, development of green parks, promotion of agroforestry, and other wealth creation projects that would create green jobs to augment livelihood during and after mining.”

The BMB, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau and its regional counterparts, are also mandated to take part in relevant committees such as the contingent liability and rehabilitation fund steering committee, mine rehabilitation fund committee, and multipartite monitoring team. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) encouraged holders of memoranda of agreement (MOA) for projects that are considered as special uses in all protected areas, including the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), to apply for a Special Use Agreement in Protected Areas or SAPA.

A SAPA is an agreement between the DENR and a project proponent, which has a term of 25 years, and is renewable for another 25 years.

Under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 or the Expanded NIPAS (ENIPAS) Act, special uses may be allowed within protected areas except in strict protection zones and strict nature reserves, subject to compliance with the environmental compliance certificate, and payment of corresponding user fee.

The law also states that the DENR secretary has the authority to determine a system-wide set of fees and charges to ensure sustainable financing of protected areas.

“The law requires a certain type of agreement with the DENR on special uses of protected areas. We are bound by this law. The conversion of a MOA into a SAPA is also an opportunity for the DENR to correct its course and to cure defects in the MOA. Such defects include unconstitutional provisions, and provisions that violate the ENIPAS Act, and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act,” DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said.

The implementing rules and regulations of the ENIPAS Act provide that MOAs issued by the DENR within protected areas prior to the effectivity of the NIPAS Act shall be converted into SAPA upon satisfactory compliance with requirements.

According to Sampulna, this is the “best possible solution” that the DENR has come up with so far after a series of consultations and meetings with various stakeholders.

The 1987 Constitution sets a limit of 25 years, renewable for another 25 years, for the term of agreements that the State enters into for the exploration, development, and use of natural resources.

A SAPA is the type of agreement applicable to special uses of protected areas.

The rules and regulations implementing the NIPAS Act provide that ecotourism is one of the special uses of protected areas.

SAPAs aim to provide access and economic opportunities to indigenous peoples, tenured migrant communities, and other protected area stakeholders; optimize the development of special-use projects consistent with the principles of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation in cooperation with stakeholders; guide the development of the zones of protected areas under their management objectives; and provide a revenue stream for the sustainable management of protected areas.

Under a MOA signed in 2017, the DENR has given a perpetual land trust to the Masungi Georeserve Foundation.

The MOA did not have the free, prior informed consent of the indigenous people whose ancestral domain overlaps with the 2,700 hectares covered by the MOA. It also does not provide for the payment of user fees.

In 2018, the DENR issued DENR Administrative Order 2018-05, Addendum to DENR Administrative Order No. 2007-17 on the Rules and Regulations Governing Special Uses within Protected Areas, which states that “all existing Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Special Uses within Protected Area shall be converted into SAPA in accordance with DAO 2007-17 and this Order.”

Meanwhile, Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Natividad Y. Bernardino said the DENR welcomes development partners that are as passionate as the Masungi Georeserve Foundation.

“I believe that the aims of the DENR and the Foundation are the same. We just have to ensure that cooperation with development partners conform with the law and policy, such as provision of sustainable financing of the protected areas system through payment of user fees,” Bernardino said.

She vowed to work with the concerned stakeholders and government officials in determining a fair, equitable, and sustainable agreement towards common goals. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has expressed commitment to improve the efficiency of the application process for priority mining projects, particularly in two areas in Mindanao.
 
During a consultative meeting on mining concerns in Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula last May 5, DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna emphasized the importance of expediting the mining approval process in these regions amid the country’s continuing economic recovery from the pandemic.
 
“In our country’s quest for economic recovery from the long recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the mining industry may well play a significant role. Our country has around 9 million hectares of land with high mineral potential, out of its total land area of 30 million hectares,” Sampulna said in his speech read by Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources and Legislative Affairs Ernesto D. Adobo Jr.
 
The meeting led by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) resulted in the identification of policy gaps and immediate actions from the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on several concerns of mining applicants and permit holders in Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao.
 
Among the agenda discussed were the fast-tracking of issuance of environmental compliance certificates through simplified geological study by the EMB and the creation of one-stop shop to streamline mining applications by the MGB.
 
The faster process on issuance of area and dredging clearances by the DPWH and issuance of the Certificate of Non-Overlap and clarificatory meetings with the NCIP were also discussed.
 
MGB Director Wilfredo O. Moncano said that the aim to address the challenges in filing applications, securing certifications, acquiring permits, and operations of mining projects were mostly considered by the concerned agencies.
 
“There were some issues that cannot be addressed because these were not under the jurisdiction of the MGB and the other national government agencies that were present. We can bring these issues to the proper agencies. But, for the other issues, I believe we were able to come up with solutions on most of the problems raised in the consultative meeting,” Moncano said.
The consultative meeting was also attended by Earth Tools and Development Corporation, identified by the MGB 10 as a mining priority project under Phase 1, which covers companies in the development and construction stage whose commercial operations are expected to become viable within six months.
 
Holcim Resources and Development Corporation and CEKAS Development Corporation, which are both mining priority projects under Phase 2, also took part in the meeting.
 
Companies under Phase 2 are those in the process of filing for declaration of mining projects’ feasibility, including those in the advanced exploration stage.
 
Other issues and concerns surrounding TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc.’s Balabag Gold and Silver Project and Canatuan Project, and the Industrial Sand and Gravel permit holders in the Zamboanga Peninsula were also discussed.
 
Moncano said that apart from the prompt approval of permits, the meeting also aimed for the compliance of the Ease of Doing Business Law, improvement in the mines permitting system, faster development of the mineral sector, and increased production capacities of mines.###
 

The Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG), led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), reported the presence of jellyfish in the whole stretch of the White Beach in Boracay on Saturday, May 14.

By 5pm, the jellyfish were washed away and no recurrence was observed on Sunday morning.

According to the initial assessment of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Aklan, the jellyfish is a natural occurrence in the coastal areas of the province in the months of May to September and is dependent on the direction of the wind.

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said the BIARMG has already coordinated with the BFAR Aklan regarding the incident.

"The safety of the public is our primary concern. We want to assure the locals and the tourists that the DENR as chair of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force is closely working with the BFAR as part of our responsibility in the rehabilitation of the island,” Sampulna said.

BIARMG General Manager Martin Despi said thumb-sized jellyfish were seen at around 2pm in all three stations of the White Beach particularly in the waters and on the beach area, and in Angol and Diniwid but these were washed out in the late afternoon.

"Yesterday, the wind direction was southwest or habagat which was towards the White Beach. This caused the jelly fish to accumulate in the beach area," said Despi.

As of Sunday morning, May 15, BFAR Aklan Provincial Fisheries Office OIC Director Evelyn Abad said that the team they sent reported that the White Beach, from stations 1 to 3, is clear of jellyfish and has almost no trace of yesterday’s incident.

“We were able to get samples of the jellyfish to determine its species. They were very small and appear to be newborn jellyfish. These will be brought to our laboratory for testing on Monday,” said Abad.

The BFAR has also advised the Environmental Management Bureau in Region 6 to get samples in case of a recurrence and to note the time these were observed.

Despi added that the lifeguards have advised tourists not to swim in the affected area should there be a recurrence. ###