The bill, principally authored by Reps. Gil Acosta (3rd District, Palawan) and Rodrigo Abellanosa (2nd District, Cebu City), declares it is a policy of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
Towards this end, the State shall protect the people and environment of the third district of Palawan, composed of the City of Puerto Princesa and the Municipality of Aborlan, against the adverse effects of mining.
The bill declares the third district of Palawan a mining-free zone and prohibits all forms of mining operations and activities within its territorial jurisdiction.
As used in the bill, “mining” shall refer to the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials, excluding quarrying of gravel, sand and marble. This shall include large-scale and small-scale mining activities involving exploration, feasibility, development, utilization and processing.
Any person, natural or juridical, or any public officer, who violates the provisions of the Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of 6 to 12 years and fine of P1 million to P10 million.
Furthermore, any public officer who violates the Act shall also 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 its board of directors or trustees who authorized the violations therein shall suffer the penalty imposed in the Act.
The bill mandates the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to formulate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act.
Acosta said the third district of Palawan vaunts of a mantel of rainforest, magnificent mountains, prehistoric caves, pristine dive sites and beaches. Among many others, its virgin forests are rich in minerals such as mercury, copper and nickel, all of which are sought after by miners, said Acosta.
“Mining in the third district of Palawan is said to have destroyed forests and caused siltation of water sources. While mining provides job opportunities for some, the degree of damage to the earth, on the livelihood of farmers, and the Palawenos' general well-being, has become exceptionally alarming. Thus, in order to protect and preserve the natural environment of the third district of Palawan, immediate passage of the bill is earnestly sought,” said Acosta. /Eddie Galvez, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau/ House of Representatives of the Philippines.