(PN file photo)

Palawan holds today a 3-day summit on mining, an undertaking by the provincial government that has set an ambitious target of resolving some, if not all, of the conflictive issues hobbling the industry.

The debate about mining in Palawan has been a long-running discourse, with key actors on opposite sides of the fence going intensely at each other like a boxing match without a referee. The arguments for and in favor of mining in Palawan have been raised numerous times in various forums, seminars, and even in the courts.

Going by the mining congress’ objectives as framed by the provincial government, this unprecedented gathering will seek to have all stakeholders “arrive at a consensus that will promote responsible mining and sustainable development.”

Such a goal is ambitious, to say the least, considering the fundamental divide that lumps the “nays” and “ayes” of the debate like it’s a zero-sum game or a war of attrition. One side says that mining can be a responsible industry and is a major contributor to economic development, while the other side points out that mining as it is practiced in Palawan is bad and harms the environment. It will be an unprecedented triumph for the administration of Gov. Dennis Socrates to nail these two sides firmly on the same page moving forward.

Kudos to the Capitol, however, for organizing such a historic event and tackling the bull by the horns. This summit, whatever consensus it forms or gives up trying, is an opportunity for an in-depth reflection on the many complex policy aspects of the debate. Getting all sides in one room and talking constructively is already a win. Agreeing and defining a common path for Palawan’s future will be a bonus.