TWEAKS are still being made to a much-awaited mining policy change with no definite schedule as to when a Palace executive order (EO) will be issued.
"The EO (executive order) is still being reviewed," said Leo L. Jasareno, Mines and Geosciences Bureau director yesterday said.
President Benigno S.C. Aquino III last Wednesday told reporters that while he had some questions regarding the draft order submitted last Monday, the policy would likely be issued before the week ended.
Palace officials on Friday afternoon said the president had yet to sign the EO as Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje and Mr. Jasareno were still meeting to address Mr. Aquino’s concerns.
Asked about the results of the meeting, Mr. Jasareno said: "Some provisions are being edited but these are just standard revisions, mostly just replacing words or finding more specific terms, so that the provisions will not be subject to so many interpretations by people."
No date for the release of the new policy has been set, he said.
"It does remain to be a priority. I think it’s bound to come out very soon."
Mr. Aquino, speaking in Davao last week, said he had questions regarding revenue sharing -- an issue that has been contested by the industry, which claims that it is contributing more than enough to national coffers.
"Do we need legislation to effect a better return for the state?" he asked, adding: "The basis to impose higher fees or royalties ... is also being fleshed out."
Also in Davao, a legislator said the Senate would move to discuss possible amendments to the 1995 Mining Act once the mining policy is issued.
Sen. Francis G. Escudero, chairman of the Senate environment committee, on Saturday said legislation would address gaps the EO cannot address such as revenue sharing.
Mr. Escudero said the Senate "decided to await the mining EO before we act on the (proposals to amend the mining laws) so that we can be consistent."
The new mining policy, he said, should also strengthen investments but also require mining companies to come up with initiatives that would help the economy, including the establishment of processing facilities, before shipping products outside the country. -- B. F. V. Roc with a report from C. Q. Francisco in Davao City