MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 27 Feb) – The Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) obtained by the foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) for the Tampakan copper-gold project is only from the side of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and still has a long way to go, according to Secretary Neric Acosta, Presidential Adviser on Climate Change, during a forum at the Bukidnon State University here Wednesday.
The DENR granted SMI an ECC after rejecting it twice last year on the ground that the province of South Cotabato prohibits open-pit mining.
In a press release Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the ECC for the $5.9-billion Tampakan project is “subject to certain conditions,” and failure to comply may result in the cancellation of the ECC.
The granting of ECC met opposition from different sectors, including the provincial government.
Besides the ECC, an endorsement from the provincial government is among the other requirements needed by the firm before it can proceed to commercial production.
Acosta said the ECC is only one of the steps before the SMI can operate. If the indigenous peoples will stand their ground, he stressed, then the project might not push through.
“Social acceptability is still the paramount value,” Acosta said, vowing to say more on the issue in a separate occasion.
Sources at BSU said it was supposedly a youth forum where Acosta was the resource speaker. But Acosta accommodated senatorial candidates of the Liberal Party who had a campaign sortie in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City Tuesday.
Former senator Jamby Madrigal, the President’s cousin Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, and former Rep. Cynthia Villar attended the forum.
Acosta apologized for the changes made in the forum because of the presence of the candidates at the end of the event.
But BSU officials and students stayed towards the end with BSU president Victor Barroso even giving a citation to Villar for her contribution in upgrading the former Bukidnon State College to university status during her time in the House of Representatives.
The activity was dubbed “Youth forum on educational, social and environmental issues.” (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)