Paje vows to clear mining industry of ‘wang-wang’

MANILA, Philippines—Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said over the weekend that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will resume the granting of mining permits only after it has fully cleared the “undesirables” in the mining industry.

“Consistent with the instruction of President Aquino, the DENR will resume the granting of mining permits only after we have fully cleansed the ‘wang-wang’ in the mining industry,” Paje said in a statement.

Paje is also recommending to Aquino a new system of awarding mining tenements to curb corruption.

The DENR, through the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB), has already issued 500 permits. Some of these permits are being used for speculative trading or sold to other companies, without generating revenues for government.

“This is not the kind of mining we want to encourage. The government is allowing mining operation in the country because we want to generate revenue for the government and the Filipino people and to fuel the country’s economic development,” Paje said.

He acknowledged that the current revenue sharing in mining was not favorable to the government.

“The two percent excise tax, which is the share of the government according to the Mining Act, is not enough to pay for the environment cost considering the fact that mining is an extractive industry. This is the reason why the DENR is pushing for the payment of five percent royalty by mining companies,” Paje said.

Paje proposed to Malacañang the abolition of the current scheme in awarding mining permits, which is through the “first come, first served” basis.

He recommended that the awarding be done through tendering or bidding.

Paje expressed optimism that through this approach, discretion and corruption in the awarding of mining tenements would be eliminated.

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