The Economic Development Committee (EDC) of the MIMAROPA Regional Development Council (RDC) held a special online meeting on July 5 through Zoom video conference to discuss three important concerns needing RDC actions and endorsements. These are the following: (a) Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP); (b) proposed presidential action to declare Marinduque as a mining free zone; and (c) site selection criteria and safety measures in the establishment and operation of automatic fuel vending machines.

Ms. Marietta C. Perez of the Philippine Coconut Authority or PCA MIMAROPA presented the salient features of Republic Act (RA) 11524 and the CFIDP for MIMAROPA. She stressed that Section 4 of RA 11524 mandates the PCA to prepare the CFIDP, to be approved by the President, as the basis for the utilization and management of Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund and for the development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry in the Philippines for 50 years.

The EDC recommended RDC approval of the CFIDP for MIMAROPA subject to the preparation of a detailed action plan. As a follow-up activity, PCA will also be presenting the draft CFIDP on an online meeting with the Indigenous People Elders to be conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) MIMAROPA this July.

The Committee also tackled the proposed Presidential action to declare Marinduque as a mining free zone. Private Sector Representative Rev. Fr. Arvin Anthony J. Madla of the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC) discussed the request of civil society organizations, religious organizations, and the academe in the province of Marinduque for the President to declare the province of Marinduque as a Mining Free Zone. Meanwhile, Regional Director Glenn Marcleo C. Noble of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) MIMAROPA provided a short briefing on the status of mining in Marinduque and salient features of relevant mining laws. Engr. Pablito M. Estorque, Jr. of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) MIMAROPA also presented the water quality status in Marinduque including a brief history on the collapse of Maguila-guila Siltation Dam in Mogpog, and the release of tail mining at Tapian Pit in Boac that caused severe damages to the residents, environment, and livelihood.

The EDC agreed to reactivate the RDC technical working group (TWG) tasked to propose mitigating measures that will help address the impacts of mining in Marinduque. The TWG shall conduct a meeting this July to gather additional data, validate the presented information, and recommend possible actions relative to the proposal as well as to identify
alternative sources of livelihood in Marinduque.

Lastly, the members were informed by the Department of Energy (DOE) on the site selection criteria and safety measures in the establishment and operation of automatic fuel vending machines (FVMs). Ms. Loralai R. Capistrano of DOE said that the FVMs are among the retail outlets under Technology Solution Retail Outlet (TSRO). These machines aim to address the use of illegal and unsafe sale of liquid fuels such as gasoline and diesel in recycled bottles especially in remote areas.

The EDC recommended RDC approval of the resolution enjoining the local government units, DOE, and other concerned agencies to strictly ensure compliance of the FMV operators with the existing rules, regulations, and required permits to safeguard the welfare of consumers and communities as well as to avoid accidents and disasters related to FVM operations.