Mines shutdown based on law, Lopez insists

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Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Thursday refuted reports that her decision to ban mineral extraction in watersheds was suspended by members of the Cabinet following a meeting on Wednesday.

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In a press conference in Malacañang, Lopez stood by her order to shut mines operating in watersheds, saying her decision was based on laws and the Constitution.

“What happened there, they want to make sure I followed the rule of law and I did. They were scared that what I did was pretty something, 23 mines, oh my God,” Lopez told reporters.

“I’m totally in my rights to close down the mines, if they don’t agree, they will appeal, when they appeal to the President, the mines still continues operations while it’s on appeal. Then when the President sees the appeal, then it’s final, then they can go to court,” she added.

The Finance department, in a statement, said that the Cabinet decided to intervene following the “outrage” triggered by Lopez’s order “in communities hosting mining sites.” It noted that some 195,000 direct and indirect workers and their families, or a total of some 1.2 million people, would be adversely affected by the closure and suspensions of the mine sites.

But Lopez said she was pursuing “social justice” for the poor, who should benefit from mining’s contribution to the economy.

She said she was aware she was going against some politicians whose past campaigns may have been funded by mining companies.

“I’m not saying any names, I know when you are funded by whoever, then you are indebted to that person,” Lopez said.

Lopez stressed she would “not cop out” in her fight against destructive mining, adding “only a miracle” will make her reconsider her decision.

Malacañang said members of the Cabinet backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to observe due process before implementing Lopez’s order.

In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the “President and his Cabinet collectively decided to observe due process with regard to the mining issue.”

Abella said the affected mining firms will be given the opportunity to “respond or dispute” the mining audit done by the DENR.

The mining firms will also be given the chance to “make the necessary remedies to ensure compliance with government standards,” Abella added.

“The Department of Finance (DOF) shall have further discussions with the DENR in their capacities as concerned government agencies of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC),” he added.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said her department will conduct a survey to determine the extent of joblessness that will result from Lopez’s move.

Denial

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd also on Thursday denied any involvement in any mining companies or ventures.

“I have no mining interest. I have no investment in mine. I have no stocks in mines,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the Mining Industry Coordinating Committee meeting.

Dominguez clarified that he was only involved in mining twice -in 1999 and 2003 when he was the Chief
Executive Officer of Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. (PASAR) and when he was invited to rehabilitate the Rapu Rapu Mine.

WITH MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO

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3 Comments

  1. I’m sorry but does she even know what the rule of law is? She keeps on saying that but she has refused then and again to show the mining audit. Di ba siya sakop ng FOI?

  2. For decades the Natural Resources of PH were totally abandoned by the government.
    It was and still is being abused and destroyed by rich business people taking advantage of the poor workers, miners and ignorant to do their dirty job.
    And finally today for the first time in decades, under the Duterte administration, the DENR Secretary has bravely ousted the mining companies who were not complying with the Rule of Law.
    And at the same time, Secretary Lopez will also create an internal cleansing of corruption and bribery in the DENR office. It is imperative that officials working in DENR are trustworthy and reliable, otherwise the system will never succeed.
    As for the workers who might lose their job when the mining closed, I heard DENR will do its best to reallocated or offer them other form for job. But I think, it is very important that workers should understand by inviting them to a seminar, about the damaged and impact the mining do to the Nature, which causes extreme flooding, causing thousands of death and destroyed houses and their livelihood. These companies are like a hidden killers of the Nature. Or perhaps DENR could provide a leaflets composed especially for the field workers what really is behind in the mining business, and use wordings that easy to understand; e.g. it is for the sake of their children, grandchildren to keep our Natural resources intact, and people should learn to respect the Nature.
    I just want to articulate my own personal point of view. And Good luck and prayers to DENR. Mabuhay ang PH!!!