A Blast from the Past: Fact-Finding Committee publishes its maiden issue on "Philippine Mining Unearthed"

22 September 2015
On 10 October 2012, the Fact-Finding Committee (FFC) on Illegal Mining, under the control and supervision of the Secretaries of the Departments of Justice (DOJ), of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) signed the Joint Department Order No. 002-2012, entitled, "Creating and Constituting a Joint DENR-DILG-DOJ Fact-Finding Committee on Illegal Mining". Since then, several anti-illegal mining operations were conducted which resulted to the dismantling of several illegal mining structures specially those found along the coastlines of some provinces. Articles, implements and equipment used in illegal mining were likewise seized during the operations.

Three years later, the FFC published the maiden issue of a book that chronicles its efforts and recommendations to stop illegal mining in the country.

"This book will, hopefully, have its sequel because as we know, the FFC probe into the bigger issues that beset the mining industry. The FFC is trying to unearth why our country has not achieved the full economic potential of mining despite the abundance of minerals," said Undersecretary Zabedin M. Azis who Secretary Leila M. De Lima has designated as Officer-in-Charge of the FFC-Secretariat.

The Secretariat was created on 5 January 2015 following the dismissal of a case filed by the FFC's partner-civil society organizations (CSOs) and the alleged continuous operations of the illegal miners along the shores of Ilocos Sur. In a Special Meeting on 23 December 2014, Secretary De Lima pled:

"We have invaluable human capital who always support the FFC's fight against illegal mining in Ilocos Sur. They are now beleaguered. They cry for our help. We have the  power to help. Let's help!"

The Secretariat, in the course of its inventory of the seized articles and dismantled structures, came across with vital information and verified the same to be true and recommended to the FFC the investigation of several personalities and corporations.

"The launching of the book is aimed at increasing the awareness of our people on the several efforts that the government has undertaken and how they could be of help in this big fight," said Undersecretary Azis.

"Let us match the resources of the moneyed individuals and corporations that perpetrate illegal mining with the resources of the government until continuing illegal mining would not be feasible for them," he added.

"We shall take the cudgel of eradicating the illegal mining industry because the fall of the several mining companies that operate illegally is the gain of the Philippines," Secretary De Lima repeatedly stressed whenever she presided the FFC meeting.

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