The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has questioned the audit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on operational mines.
COMP vice president for legal and policy Ronald Recidoro described the mining audit as “not totally impartial.”
Recidoro said that known anti – mining organizations and allied grassroots organizations were included in the audit teams.
“DENR Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the inclusion of third party experts in the audit teams. However, none of the CSO representatives included in the audit teams were expert in any field that may be relevant to the audit process,” he said.
He added that regular mine audit protocols were not observed as mining companies were already suspended prior to the start of the actual audit.
“Several of our members have complained that procedures to ensure fairness and transparency in the audit were absent, including the conduct of an exit audit conference where the DENR would have informed the company about initial findings,” he said.
Mining firms have told the chamber that CSO representatives did nothing but air their opposition to mining projects, COMP said.
“The anti-mining CSOs who were disproportionately represented in the audit teams were allegedly harassing the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Environmental Management Bureau representatives when they have favorable findings on the mining project,” Recidoro said.
Lack of expertise in assessing the social acceptability of the mining operations were also pointed out.
“We are deeply concerned that the presence of the CSO representatives opposed to large-scale mining in the audit team will unduly influence results of the audit, specifically community satisfaction and social acceptability,” Recidoro stressed.
10 mining companies were suspended prior to the audit, and 12 more mines are expected to follow due to alleged inadequate mining practices, DENR undersecretary and mining audit team head Leo Jasareno.
“Based on the initial review, 12 are recommended for suspension but we are still reviewing that. Remember that the process is [that] the audit team will report and then we will review,” he said.
Environment Secretary Regina Lopez is set to make the announcement on Monday.