PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he would not lift the ban on open-pit mining amid calls from a government mining review group to reverse the policy.
Speaking to reporters in Taguig City on Tuesday night, Duterte said he agreed with the open-pit mining ban given the environmental damage it causes.
“Ayaw ko because it is destroying the soil, environment at walang corrective measure agad,” the President said during a media interview.
(I don’t like it because it is destroying the soil, environment and there is no immediate corrective measure.)
“Maski wala na ‘yang [Even if there is no] study, you go to place with open pit mining, you can see the destruction of the soil and the environment,” he added.
Duterte reiterated that he would rather forego P70 billion in revenues from the mining industry than risk further damage to the environment.
“How much do I earn from the taxation? About 70 billion a year? I can let it go. So what kung wala tayo [if we don’t have it]?” he said.
Duterte’s statement came after the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), an inter-agency government group formed in 2012 to review existing mining operations, recommended in October 2017 to lift the open-pit mining ban.
“Majority of the members of the MICC members voted to recommend a change in the policy of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) with regard to Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2017-10, particularly, that the DENR lift the ban on open pit mining provided that mining laws are strictly enforced,” the group said in a statement.
In April 2017, former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez imposed DAO 2017-10, saying that the country lacked the technology to keep open-pit mining safe.
Open-pit mining is recognized by the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and is an internationally allowed method of extracting mineral ore.
The ban also prohibited the extraction of coal, limestone, marble and clay.
Duterte said in September 2017 that he supported Lopez’s move, adding that he asked her successor, Roy Cimatu, “to look into the eventual closure of open pit mining.” CATHERINE S. VALENTE