President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to go after “oligarchs” involved in illegal mining activities.
In his speech during an environmental summit in Davao City on Thursday, Duterte slammed oligarchs who use their “influence” to benefit from the illegal mining industry.
“Oligarchs benefit from mining. All they do is influence peddling,” the President said.
“We will go after them. Whether it is legal or not, mining will destroy the country.” He said oligarchs, whom he described as “monsters,” also use their money and power to advance their own interests.
“I am fighting a monster. I am just two months old [into the presidency]but believe me, I will destroy their clutches,” Duterte stressed.
He cited corruption as one of the reasons mining companies continue to receive permits from government.
“Our resources are being enjoyed by those with the right connections. I do not brag. Had I not become president, I would not know what will happen to the country. It’s pitiful,” he added.
Duterte however said that not all businessmen were oligarchs.
He mentioned environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez, whom he described as a “crusader” against oligarchs.
“She’s a billionaire. But she’s a crusader, she loves the country, and she hates oligarchs,” Duterte said.
On Wednesday evening, Duterte singled out businessman Roberto Ongpin as an example of an oligarch, citing his political connections which he allegedly used to promote his business interests.