The Department of Finance (DOF) said closure and suspension orders issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) on several mining firms are appealable to the President and as such, can be reversed, modified, or altered, if warranted by Malacañang.
“We have not seen the orders nor the audit, so we are not aware of the grounds nor the manner by which DENR Secretary Gina Lopez has made her decisions,” said Bayani Agabin, finance undersecretary and head of the DOF Legal Services Group.
Agabin issued the statement in response to queries from the media sent to the DOF, the agency that co-chairs the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) with the DENR.
Agabin was at the MICC meeting last week when the Council discussed an earlier DENR directive shutting down 23 mine sites and suspending the operations of five others.
“As a general principle of law, decisions of Cabinet secretaries are appealable to the President since the former are alter egos of the latter. As such, their decisions can be reversed, modified or altered, if warranted,” Agabin said.
During that meeting, the MICC issued Resolution No. 6, which said both the DENR and the Council “recognize the requirements of due process in the applicable mining laws, rules and regulations,” and created a panel to conduct a multi-stakeholder review of the performance of all existing mining operations.
“As discussed during the MICC meeting last week, there is a need to observe due process. Due process is both substantive and procedural. Substantive due process means that there are valid grounds in law to support the cancellation,” Agabin said.
“Procedural due process means the procedure for cancellation as provided for in the contract or under relevant laws were followed,” he added.
Resolution No. 6 was signed by both Lopez and DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
The resolution stated that the MICC “shall create a multi-stakeholder review and advise the DENR on the performance of existing mining operations in consultation with the local government units (LGUs).”
It added that the review shall be based on the guidelines and parameters set forth in the specific mining contract and in other pertinent laws, taking into account the valid exercise of the State’s police power to serve the common good, especially of the poor.
Agabin noted that the existing mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) granted to mining companies are contracts between the government and each of the contractors.
“If there are provisions for dispute resolution, these should be observed. If there are grounds for termination, these should be the basis for any termination,” he said.