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Palace orders DENR to ensure small-miner safety net coverage

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to more closely regulate smaller miners to ensure their safety practices are compliant with regulations, and that their workers are adequately covered in terms of social protections.

Mr. Marcos issued the instructions in a meeting with DENR officials in Malacañang, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) said in a statement.

“We want to legalize small-scale mining firms because many of them are illegal, therefore the miners do not have protections,” he said. “We want to strengthen the regulatory framework so that they can legally operate and we can give our miners assistance and protection.”

“They might be able to access financing (and) social protections” if brought within the regulator’s purview, he added.

The OPS said the President may certify some bills on small-scale mining, including amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 7076, to offer incentives to the industry and “to provide social assistance and labor protection as well as government assistance programs.”

Under RA 7076, the small-scale mining category refers to mines that rely heavily on manual labor, without the use of explosives or heavy equipment. 

“I think for now the need is for the regulatory capabilities, especially over small scale (miners),” the President told the DENR officials.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno earlier said the mining industry can support the Philippines’ long-term expansion.

Separately, Mr. Marcos cited the need to upskill and reskill seafarers in preparation for the expected shift of ocean-going vessels to green hydrogen between 2030 and 2040.

The President said Filipino seafarers would need additional training in handling alternative fuels.

At the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), leading shipping organizations and major producers of green hydrogen signed a joint statement committing to the rapid production and use of low-carbon fuels based on green hydrogen to accelerate the decarbonization of global shipping. 

The shipping sector accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions but is expected to grow rapidly without intervention. — Kyle Aristophere A. Atienza