DENR appoints new undersecretary for mining
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has appointed a new undersecretary for mining, which came weeks after the major reshuffle among officials of the agency that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered shortly before 2019 ended.
In a text exchange, Environment Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh confirmed that she is no longer the DENR’s undersecretary for mining concerns and that the job has already been transferred to Environment Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna.
Cuna now serves as the DENR’s undersecretary for policy, planning and international affairs as well as the supervising undersecretary for Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Teh, on the other hand, gets keep her old position as the DENR’s undersecretary for climate change.
This development came weeks after Cimatu announced a major reshuffle among key executives of the DENR. The decision covered undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and directors.
However in the special orders issued by Cimatu, Teh supposedly retained her assignment as the undersecretary for climate change and mining concerns as well as the supervising officer for MGB and EMB, while Cuna would be the undersecretary for field operations for Luzon.
He was likewise in charge of keeping an eye on the agency’s priority programs.
Cuna’s appointment as the supervising officer for MGB came as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed graft charges against him and other DENR personnel for allegedly committing a series of acts leading to the illegal importation of solid wastes from Canada.
As the DENR undersecretary in charge of the mining sector, Cuna has a lot on his plate, from overseeing the on-going mining audit to ensuring that the highly controversial mining sector is being monitored closely and properly.
MGB, the agency tasked to regulate the country’s mining sector, is now planning to intensify its monitoring of existing mining permits or contracts to make sure the Philippine government is getting the appropriate, if not higher, revenue share from the extractive industry.
Under its Mineral Resources Enforcement and Regulatory Program, MGB is aiming to increase what the government is getting from mineral resources development.
At the same time, the agency wants to strengthen the monitoring of mining permits/contracts on the mining companies’ compliance with prevailing mining laws, rules and regulations.
This complements MGB Director Wilfredo G. Moncano’s “policy direction” for the mining sector for 2020, which called for “strong monitoring and enforcement, people-oriented by providing jobs and benefits to communities, completion of environmental rehabilitation of abandoned mines and mined-out areas, increase in contribution to national income, transformation into a world-class and competitive mining industry and wider implementation of risk resiliency program to support the climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction programs of the government”.
In line with this direction of strict monitoring and enforcement, MGB said continuous cleansing of non-moving mining rights and use of modern technology in monitoring mining companies will be pushed.
The only way for MGB now to make sure that the government will get higher revenue share from the mining sector is through effective monitoring and to see to it that all mining companies are paying the right taxes.
This since the government’s proposal for higher mining tax is still pending in Congress.