BAGUIO CITY: President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday blamed mining industries for causing environmental destruction in the country, particularly in Mindanao.
In his speech during the annual alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy, Duterte said Mindanao is being threatened by climate change, aggravated by mining activities.
“As a child immigrant from Visayas to Mindanao, we hoped for a better life in the so-called ‘Land of Promise.’ But now, it is threatened by climate change caused by man-made diseases like extractive industries,” Duterte said.
Duterte’s remarks lent support to a mining crackdown being led by his Environment secretary, former activist Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez, who has ordered the shutdown of 23 mining companies and the cancellation of 75 contracts.
The President hit previous administrations for “deliberately” pushing for policies that only benefited themselves and the interest of a few.
“In the past, our government verged on failure because those who were in the position to help deliberately made wrong decisions which favored only themselves,” he said.
As a result of the supposed intentional mistakes of previous government officials, Duterte said “the rest of the nation is threatened by the widening gap between the rich and the poor, crime, corruption, criminality and illegal drugs.”
“Government must now deliver goods and services to really serve the people, not just the interest of the few… That is why I promised during my first State of the Nation Address, I promised you a comfortable life,” he said.
“My administration is working to ensure that basic human services are available to all; food and health needs; water and sanitation; shelter; public safety; education; and economic opportunities,” the President added.
Following an airborne inspection of areas affected by the Surigao City earthquake last week, Duterte acknowledged that the mining industry had taken a toll in Mindanao,
“I’m warning those [in the]mining industry, even if they have billions, they use[d]to pay everyone to be able corner a huge concession. That won’t happen under my administration,” he said.
The Philippines earns P70 billion from the mining industry annually, the President noted.
On Saturday, a lawmaker called for a congressional investigation into Lopez’s moves, saying the Environment chief should have given due process to the mining firms.
In a forum in Quezon City, Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang of the lone district of Kalinga province, said he had filed Resolution No. 756 before the House Committee on Rules inviting Lopez to attend an inquiry to explain her basis for the closure of 23 mining firms and cancellation of 75 mining contracts.
Mangaoang, a professor of geology, said Lopez should have informed the miners before holding a news conference announcing their closure.
“I admire the good secretary for her passion when it comes to [her]work, but she should have at least given these [mining]companies due process and a chance to explain their sides,” he clarified.
“Apparently, there [were no]written reports…given to respective mining teams to inform them what kind of environmental violations they have committed,” he added.
The lawmaker noted that the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 allows the Environment department to undertake periodic reviews of miners.
Lopez, he claimed, “violated” the act by not giving due process to the mining firms. “What we see here is that [Secretary Lopez] is close-minded,” he said.
Lopez has justified the closure of 23 mining firms all over the country by saying these were located near watersheds and cause siltation, which occurs when excessive mineral particles contaminate a body of water.
The 23 mining firms ordered closed were Benguet Corp., Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp., BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp., Emir Minerals Corp., TechIron Mineral Resources Inc., AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration, Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., SinoSteel Philippines HY Mining Corp., Kromico Inc., Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., Wellex Mining Corp., Libjo Mining Corp., ADNAMA Mining Resources Corp., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Hinatuan Mining Corp., CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. and Platinum Group Metals Corp.
WITH DEMPSEY REYES