New MGB chief takes post despite ongoing mining audit

Amid the ongoing audit on mining firms by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), President Rodrigo Duterte appointed a new Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) chief.

In a presidential decree that took effect on Monday, Duterte designated Mario Luis Jacinto as the new director of MGB, an attached agency of the DENR that regulates the mining sector of the country. Jacinto is also the DENR undersecretary.

Jacinto was tasked to assist DENR secretary Gina Lopez in ensuring that all actions relating to the MGB like permits, clearances, certificates, personel recruitment, movement and appointments; authorized Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) functions to be signed, issued by or delegated to the DENR secretary are reviewed and evaluated by the office for consideration and final disposition of the environment secretary.

Jacinto will perform all functions under the Philippine Mining Act and other related laws, rules and regulations. He will also oversee EMB’s organizations and operations for effective and successful implementation of its projects and activities.

Jacinto took over the post of Leo Jasareno, who was MGB chief for five years and is currently leading the mining audit with Lopez. Jasareno also mentored Lopez on the sector upon her appointment to the DENR.

Despite the new appointment, Lopez said that Jasareno will still “be on top of the operations” on the mining audit.

“Leo is going to be a senior undersecretary second to me. He will finish the audit because he started it. He will be on top of the operations. He is dynamic and honest. I need him. He resonates with my values and integrity,” Lopez said in a text message to the Standard.

Jacinto served as the senior geologist and the mineral operations officer of the Bureau of Mines in Surigao City in Mindanao from 1977 to 1983 and was also the Acting Mineral District Officer of the Bureau of Mines District office no. 2 in Cagayan de Oro.

The new MGB chief also became a consultant for various mining projects in the private sector.