President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday backed a ban on open-pit mining amid reports that government officials were looking to rescind an order issued by former Environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez.
Speaking to reporters, the President said that he had asked Lopez’s successor, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, “to look into the eventual closure of open-pit mining.”
“I agree with Gina Lopez that [that]has to stop after some time,” Duterte said.
But then I will give mining companies enough elbow room for eventual change on the modality of getting what’s inside the bowels of the earth.”
Lopez on Monday criticized reports that an interagency mining council had been asked to review the ban.
“Each open pit is a financial liability to government for life because no matter if the mining company commits to take care of that open pit, will they take care of it forever?,” she told reporters.
“The existence of open pits violates the constitutional rights of our people to a clean and healthy environment…For whatever law or whatever legal thing they say, it is a violation of our constitutional rights,” she added.