By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Senior Reporter
THE Finance department has asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to crack down on towns and provinces that fail to keep residents from building homes in mining and quarrying areas.
In the latest Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) meeting, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told the DILG to flag local government officials that are found “remiss in their duties” when it comes to keeping mining and quarrying sites free from houses and similar buildings.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is also covered by the directive, which involves implementing zoning rules for “geohazard” areas.
“We should put another special item there to work with the MGB (and) to work with DILG on zoning rules basically to prevent housing or any construction in quarry areas, and mining areas that have been determined to be in a geohazard area,” Mr. Dominguez was quoted as saying in a statement.
He added that this should be among the priorities of the MICC for this year.
Previously, the Finance chief also sought the DILG’s help in apprehending local executives who are found supporting manufacturers of illicit cigarettes.
This comes as the inter-agency MICC is working on the second round of auditing of mining sites. The audit covers 15 mining companies and is expected to be completed by June.
Covered by the audit are the legal, technical, environmental, social, and economic aspects of mining sites, which are then judged through an environmental score card to check whether their performance is acceptable or not.
The MICC announced last December that the moratorium on new mining permits will stay pending the passage of a new revenue-sharing law for mining profits. The ban has been in place since 2012, as imposed by then-President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.
A version of the bill has already cleared the House of Representatives, but still awaits counterpart hearings and approval by the Senate.
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law which took effect in 2018 raised the excise tax on mineral products to 4% from 2% previously. However, this is not taken as the new fiscal regime for mining, as it does not provide for how royalties, profits, and windfall revenues will be treated.