The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has canceled 75 mining contracts in its audit that are believed to be destructive to watersheds.
“You kill watershed, you kill life,” DENR Secretary Regina Lopez said on Tuesday.
Lopez said that the 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) are all located in watershed zones. Many of these canceled contracts were in the exploration stage.
Among the canceled contracts include the $5.9 billion Tampakan project, KingKing Mining Corp’s $2 billion planned project in Davao del Norte, and Philex Mining Corp.’s $2 billion Silangan prospect in Surigao del Norte.
“We need to protect the water resource of future generations,” Lopez said.
The MPSA cancellation orders were sent to involved firms on February 14 and companies will be given seven days to reply and defend their stand.
“There is no loss of jobs here since we cancel them before they even start operating. If their reply does not give us any reason to mine inside watersheds they will be ultimately canceled,” Lopez said.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) is questioning the cancellation the 75 MPSAs
“It has now become a question of whether we still uphold the sanctity of contracts. It has now become a question of due process, and of fairness and justice that applies to all. We feel that the cancellation of these agreements does not rest on Ms. Lopez alone but must be collectively decided upon by the government as a whole considering the adverse impact it may have on the country,” COMP said in a statement.
“I will admit that the mining companies accused me of bias and I’ll admit it. I think these biases for social justice and [the] common good is healthy,” Lopez said.
Earlier this month, Lopez has ordered the closure of 23 mining firms and the suspension of five other.