KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/20 October) – Seven groups, including local business chambers, have organized into the Southern Mindanao
Coalition for Sustainable Development (SMC4SD), which aims to promote the trade and investment potentials of the region such as agriculture, tourism and services sector, and mining.
“Mining is a potential major investment not just in our region but in the entire country. We formed the coalition as an avenue to promote
sustainable development. Sustainable development is about taking care of the [environmental condition of the] next generation,” said Alfredo
P. Hebrona, Jr, SMC4SD co-convenor.
Hebrona said the coalition will work to move the region forward in a unified direction among the different development and economic
Constancio A. Paye Jr., regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, lauded the formation of the coalition, noting the mining industry “is being haunted by the ghosts of the past.”
“This will be a big help in promoting the mining industry within a sustainable development framework,” said Paye, the only regional government agency official present at the launching.
Paye stressed the country is blessed with rich mineral deposits—the third in the volume for gold, fourth in copper, fifth in nickel and
sixth in chromite with an estimated total value of $829 trillion.
“It’s a matter of how we develop these God-given resources,” he said, adding the Mining Act of the Philipines or Republic Act 7942 promotes
sustainable development in that it has provisions to ensure environment protection, such as rehabilitation of mining areas.
The launching of the coalition came as the controversial environment code of South Cotabato finally took effect last Monday, after the 15-day period lapsed from the last publication of the code in a local newspaper.
The code bans open-pit mining method, and is being seen as an obstacle to the massive Tampakan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mines. The firm earlier announced the investment prospects for the Tampakan project, which is targeted for commercial production in 2016, could reach $5.2 billion.
The local Catholic Church and other environmental groups have been opposing the Tampakan project, and are against any moves to review the controversial environment code that they claim will allow Sagittarius Mines to proceed with its project.
Sagittarius Mines sent a representative to the launching of the coalition but did not speak in the event or to the local media.
South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Y. Pingoy, Jr said on Wednesday he will implement the code, adding the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) is already underway.
“The technical working group that drafted the environment code will be the same one which will craft the IRR,” Mr. Pingoy said.
The provincial executive said he signed the executive order creating the technical working group on Tuesday although the members have
already met prior to the signing. (MindaNews)