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DENR ordered to strengthen regulatory powers on small, large-scale mining

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday tasked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to bolster its regulatory powers on small and large-scale mining to ensure that standards are updated and that mining firms are strictly implementing their respective safety and health programs for workers.

The President made this instruction in a meeting with DENR officials in Malacañang on Tuesday.

“Gusto natin ma-legalize ang mga small-scale mining firms kasi madami sa kanila illegal, kaya walang protection ang mga minero. Gusto nating palakasin ang regulatory framework para maka-operate sila ng legal, upang mabigyan ang ating minero ng assistance at protection para sa ligtas nilang pagtatrabaho,” Marcos said.

In the meeting, President Marcos expressed the need to enhance social protection and security for workers in the mining industry.

“We might be able to access financing, they might be able to access social protection,” Marcos told DENR officials.

“Ang kawawa diyan ‘yung mga miners. They’re really not… they have no safety. Ang daming namamatay,” Marcos lamented, referring to miners who do not have the proper training or inadequate safety measures inside the mines.

On small-scale mining, there are bills that the President may certify as urgent, including the amendment to Republic Act 7076 to incentivize small-scale mining (SSM), to provide social assistance and labor protection as well as government assistance programs.

Under RA 7076, or the Act Creating A People’s Small-Scale Mining Program, SSM pertains to mining activities that rely heavily on manual labor using simple implementations and methods.

The law also defines small-scale mining as an activity that “does not use explosives or heavy mining equipment.”

“I think for now the need is for the regulatory capabilities, especially the small scale,” the President pointed out.

The DENR earlier expressed commitment to review mining laws, including small-scale mining, to ensure that standards are updated and that the provision of the implementing rules and regulations takes full advantage of remote sensing and innovation in artificial intelligence. 

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