MOA SIGNING. Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (2nd from right) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Western Regional Director Raul Laput (right) sign the memorandum of agreement for the transfer of functions on the processing and issuances of two mining documents to the provincial government. Witnessed by Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II (2nd from left) and Provincial Environment Management Office head Julie Ann Bedrio, the signing rites were held during the Governor’s Permit Holders Forum and Dialogue held at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City on Tuesday (April 12, 2022). (Photo courtesy of PIO Negros Occidental)

BACOLOD CITY – The province of Negros Occidental has entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Western Visayas (MGB-6) for the transfer of mining documents issuance functions to the provincial government.

The signing rites, led by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and MGB-6 Regional Director Raul Laput, were held during the Governor’s Permit Holders Forum and Dialogue held at the Negros Residences here on Tuesday.

“To everyone present, including the national government agencies, may the good Lord give us the wisdom to find better ways on how we can work together for the furtherance of responsible mining practices,” Lacson said in his keynote message before some 170 permit holders.

The MOA provides for the transfer of functions on the processing and issuances of the certificate of environmental management and community relations record (CEMCRR) and social development and management program (SDMP), which are part of new policies affecting sand and gravel as well as quarry extraction in the province.

This is based on Executive Order 138 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 21, 2021 or the “Full Devolution of Certain Functions of the Executive Branch to Local Government Units, Creation of Committee on Devolution, and for other Purposes”.

Laput said the mining industry is considered a major driving force in the country’s local and national economy.

“This is a very important meeting of our permit holders and our government agencies to share relevant information, give updates, share concerns and exchange ideas on how we can address issues affecting the industry,” he added.

The CEMCRR is issued as proof of a good record of accomplishment of a company or permit holder in terms of community relations while the SDMP is a community development tool required of permit holders to ensure that the host and neighboring communities benefit from the project in terms of livelihood, education, infrastructure, medical and other social development programs.

Both documents are part of the requirements for permit applications for quarry, small-scale mining and sand, and gravel for commercial and industrial use.

Local issuance of quarry, sand, and gravel for areas below five hectares and small-scale mining permits is a devolved function under the Local Government Code of 1991.

Lacson said he has been informed that some applicants and permittees are circumventing the law by applying multiple applications when the ordinance provides that a qualified person may only be granted one permit in any local government unit at any one time.

“I want to be forthright with you, always remember that the permit given to you is a privilege, a privilege to use our resources judiciously, not to exploit our limited natural reserves. We are not supposed to do indirectly what is prohibited directly,” he told the permit holders. (PNA)