Press Release
February 7, 2017

Villanueva to conduct inquiry into govt's plan on displaced workers of mines

Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, is set to hold an inquiry on Wednesday, February 8, at 12 noon, with regard to the government's employment transition plan for the workers who will be displaced by the recent order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to close 23 mines in the country.

In Senate Resolution 281 filed by Villanueva, the senator seeks to review, in aid of legislation, the feasibility of institutionalizing the existing employment transition plan of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program which provides assistance to workers displaced by or to be displaced as a result of, natural and man-made disasters, including suspensions or closures of establishments.

On February 2, DENR Secretary Gina Lopez has ordered the shutdown of more than 20 firms for allegedly causing destruction to the environment of local communities where they are located.

Villanueva, on his part, has expressed his concern on the number of workers who will face displacement with the said mines shutdown.

"About 20,000 workers are to lose their jobs with the closure of 20 mines. The government has to make sure that we have a clear transition plan to support these workers and to make sure that the capacity building programs and trainings are provided to help them find new jobs," he stressed.

Villanueva would also like to know if there are current interventions in mine sites to prepare communities for eventual closure of mines when their contract ends.

"We have to make sure that mining operations actually have net social benefits. And when mines close (whether thru enforcement of government regulation or end of natural life) communities have livelihood and other sources of income to support them," the senator said.

On the other hand, Villanueva said he supports the move of Secretary Lopez to promote green economy which the latter said "can create more jobs than mining could ever (create)".

"Based on my experience when I served in TESDA, we were able to produce green technology which served as green skills center offering training courses in support of the country's needs for renewable and emerging green jobs," Villanueva shared while reiterating that the government must still ensure the workers are given job security if they are to push for green economy.

"We support the initiative of Sec. Lopez to improve the state of our environment and promote green industry and jobs, but we also have to ensure that our workers are protected," Villanueva concluded.

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