And that ends the current panel discussion. But don't go just yet. The last discussion will begin shortly. The hot topic: Governance issues and concerns.
Elmer Billedo of MGB is now beginning his talk on geohazard mapping and climate change adaptation. He quips: All questions on EO79 and IRR will not be entertained.
Billedo: The Philippines is not a major greenhouse gas emitter. The bad news: The Philippines is directly affected by climate change.
Next up: Renaud Meyer of UNDP will talk about transparency and poverty reduction initiative.
Meyer: Mining is a very sensitive issue for the LGUs and the civil society sector.
Meyer: Everything is in the Philippines. But despite that, there are shortages outside Manila. Environmental degredation hugely damages the poor people's livelihoods and the economy as a whole.
Meyer: the Philippines is the fifth most mineral-rich country in the world. About 30 million hectares are possible areas for metallic mines. Metal deposits is estimated at 21.5 billion metric tons.
The main partner of the PEI program is the DILG. Responsible parties include the NEDA, DENR, DA, DOE, LGU, and the Chamber of Mines.
Meyer: Unless there is a strong collaboration with the LGU, the PEI program will not work. The key is linking poverty reduction strategy with local planning with the consideration of natural resources.
The next speaker will be Atty Emmanuel Lombos on issues that affect environmental rules and procedures.
Lombos is examining the provisions of the EO79 and IRR that increases the "no-go areas" for mining. These areas will be added to agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and other critical areas that the DENR has identified.
Lombos: The first constitutional problem with the EO: There is a clear separation of powers. A law is passed by Congress but the executive branch of the government identifies the areas. There is "unconstitutional usurpation of legislative powers."
Lombos identified the second constitutional problem: The preference given to other uses of land violates constitutional preference for mining. He quotes SC that says "once minerals are discovered in the land... the land is thus converted to mineral land and may not be used by any private party for any other purposes."
But there's more! There's a third constitutional problem according to Lombos: the definition of the additional closed areas are vague and incomprehensible. He notes island ecosystems.
Lombos: Every ecosystem is in some sense unique and no such thing as a robust and invulnerable ecosystem. Therefore, any one of the 7,700 islands in the country can be closed to mining at DENR's caprice.
Lombos: That is not allowed by the due process standard. That is not present if you have an incomprehensible rule. The rule is either incapable of enforcement because it it incomprehensible or it can be applied to anything and everything.
Lombos: You need only one constitutional flaw and the measure is void. In the case of the EO79's no-go mining areas, there are three.
Another constitutional issue: No new mineral agreements. With this, the executive branch refuses to implement laws. The entire duty of the executive branch is to enforce all laws.
Lombos: Mandatory disqualification resulting from environmental incident. There should be due process requirement before a disqualification penalty is imposed.
Atty Marilyn Aquino (First Pacific Company Ltd) and Atty Roderick Salazar (Fortun Navasa & Salazar Law Offices) give opinions on the present panel discussion.
Aquino: The challenge of the mining industry is that we talk in technical points. Its unfortunate that the IRR does not follow this. I think it is important that we focus of the constitution aspect that gives priority to the use of land.
Atty Aquino brings it home with simple speak everyone can understand. Her message is that all laws must respected and none suspended.
Peiris says the objectives of government and mining have common grounds. "They need each other." he says.
Lombos: my advice to clients is that if you need to go to court, you're already a loser. So don't [go to court]. It's natural for court not to like it when you're questioning the product of their legal work.
But I advise that we revisit rules because we have a new CHIEF JUSTICE.
Also, continue exhausting efforts to reach out to executive. Find ways. But some case, overtaken by events, ok to sue.
I suggest you find a broad based view not just of Chamber but others who are also hurt by provisions.
LOMBOS: If you go to court, must be able to frame your case and that you are not nitpicking, that you are after the good of the public. You must WIN THE PUBLIC DEBATE by all means.
SALAZAR: I think there is still a presumption of regularity in the actions of officials until it is questioned in court. (Uh, did he just tell Romualdez to sue Environment Sec. Paje??)
Mining Rep: The 15 days crucial. What I dont want to see is the same draft we are contesting now will be published. The whole country is at stake. Let's hope the changes that need to be done get done before we rush to court.
Thank you for joining us in this live blog. Join us again tomorrow.