BBM: Protect mine workers

Photograph courtesy of office of the president PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. presides over a meeting with officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to discuss initiatives to promote responsible mining.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants to legalize small-scale mining firms whose countless workers still lack protection while exposed to the hazards of the profession.

“We want to legalize the small-scale mining firms because many of them are illegal, so the miners have no protection,” Marcos said in Filipino, during a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang Palace on Tuesday.

Marcos instructed officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to bolster its regulatory powers on small and large-scale mining to ensure that standards are updated and that mining firms are strictly implementing their respective safety and health programs for workers.

“We want to strengthen the regulatory framework so they can operate legally, to give our miners assistance and protection for their safe work,” he said.

According to the Office of the Press Secretary, the Chief Executive saw the need to enhance social protection and security for workers in the mining industry.

“We might be able to access financing, they might be able to access social protection,” the OPS quoted Marcos as telling DENR officials.

“The miners will be in a miserable situation. They’re really not… they have no safety. There are so many mining accidents leading to deaths,” he lamented, referring to miners who do not have the proper training or inadequate safety measures inside the mines.

The DENR earlier said the agency would review mining laws, including small-scale mining, to ensure that standards are updated.

They also consider the provision of the implementing rules and regulations takes full advantage of remote sensing and innovation in artificial intelligence.

“I think for now the need is for the regulatory capabilities, especially the small scale,” Marcos told DENR.

OPS said Marcos is considering the certification of urgent bills that are related to small-scale mining, which is defined as an activity that “does not use explosives or heavy mining equipment.”

This includes the amendment to Republic Act 7076, or An Act Creating People’s Small-Scale Mining Programs, to incentivize small-scale mining and provide social assistance and labor protection as well as government assistance programs.

Small-scale mining pertains to activities that rely heavily on manual labor using simple implementations and methods.

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