DENR Head Welcomes SC's Decision Cancelling All Mining Permits in Diwalwal

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Byline: ELLALYN DE VERA

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes welcomed yesterday a Supreme Court (SC) ruling that placed all mining operations at the Diwalwal "gold-rush" area in the Agusan-Davao-Surigao forest reserve under the supervision and control of the government.

The same ruling also cancelled all mining permits in the area.

Reyes said the decision would enable the government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to control and supervise mining operations in the area.

This would ensure the protection of the environment as well as the health of the miners, prospectors, and residents.

Justice Minita Chico Nazario promulgated last Monday the decision, reversing a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that the Exploration Permit No. 133 of Marcopper Mining Corp. (MMC) had long expired and, therefore, the transfer of the permit to the firm's subsidiary, Southeast Mindanao Gold Mining Corp. (SEM), was illegal.

The SC also declared as illegal the segregation of 729 hectares (has) in the forest reserve as non-forest lands which were opened to small-scale mining operations in 1991 by then DENR Secretary Fulgencio Factoran Jr. through a department administrative order.

In the case of Apex Mining Co. and the Balite Portal Communal Mining Cooperative and other small mining enterprises, the SC said their permits have been rendered moot and academic by the issuance of Proclamation 297 and Department Order No. …