By Billy Begas
The House of Representatives has approved a measure declaring Cagayan de Oro a mining-free zone.
House Bill 9345 was unanimously approved on third and final reading with 219 votes. It was authored by Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and House Committee on Natural Resources chairperson and Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
Under the measure, all forms of mining operations and activities, whether large-scale or small-scale within the jurisdiction of CDO will be prohibited.
The provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1996 (Republic Act 7942) or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act (RA 7076) and other laws and rules, which is inconsistent with the measure shall have no application within the territorial jurisdiction of CDO.
All valid and existing mining contracts, exploration permits and licenses within CDO will be valid until its expiration or termination and cannot be renewed.
Violators of the measure will be penalized with imprisonment of six to 12 years and a fine of P100,000 to P500,000.
If the violator is a government employee, he/she shall be dismissed from the service and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
If the violator is a juridical entity, the highest ranking official and the members of the board of directors or board of trustees who authorized the violations shall suffer the penalty.