‘Mining did not end poverty’ – Lopez


POVERTY remains a problem after more than a century of mining operations in the country, and it’s time to allow communities destroyed by mining to “breathe,” Environment Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez said on Friday.

LET THEM BREATHE Environment Secretary Regina Paz ‘Gina’ Lopez explains why mining is dangerous to watersheds in a roundtable discussion with The Manila Times editors and reporters on Friday. Lopez insists due process was followed when she ordered 28 mining firms to account for environmental violations. She has also ordered the cancellation of 75 mining contracts. PHOTO BY ROGER RAÑADA

Speaking to The Manila Times editorial team, Lopez vowed to transform mining communities that would be affected by impending closures ordered by her department, promising to generate ecotourism jobs through “area development” projects.

“We’ve been mining this country for more than 100 years, what do we have to show [for it]? All the areas where we have mining are the poorest,” the environmental activist said in a roundtable discussion.

The Philippines is the fifth most mineralized country in the world and is the planet’s top nickel producer, but firms take 82 percent of the profits, and nearly all of the money “goes out of the local economy,” Lopez said.
She dismissed claims that over 1.2 million workers would lose their jobs with the impending closure of mining firms.

“We issued the order, it goes to them, then they appeal. While it’s on appeal, they can actually still continue mining. Actually there’s no mining going on right now because mining is not every day of the year. They don’t mine talaga. They want to start mining in March. So nobody lost their jobs because they’re not earning anyway,” she explained.

Ugong Rock success

Lopez explained how ecotourism could supplant mining in environmentally vulnerable mine areas, citing the example of a project she had initiated at Ugong Rock in Puerto Princesa when she was still in the private sector.

She said the town’s earnings increased to P29 million from just P7,000 over the last decade.

“Why not give it (mine communities) a chance to breathe and create other kinds of jobs? I feel it behooves on government to make the right choice that could create the greatest common good,” Lopez said.

“Let them live in the beauty of their place…Their economy will not be dependent on mines or outside influence because that will be their money and resources,” she added.

Due process followed

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) this month ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements close to watersheds all over the country.

It also ordered the closure and suspension of 28 mining companies, following a months-long mining audit that started in July 2016.

Lopez insisted due process was followed in the mining audit, and that the DENR first issued show-cause orders to the mining firms found to have numerous violations.

“All [received a show-caused order]… As far as I’m concerned I tell them the process. That took seven months. I myself went around and talked to the people and then in the end the decisions were made based on the side of the common good,” Lopez said.

She said the miners could appeal her decision to the Office of the President. If President Rodrigo Duterte upholds the closures, they can go to court but they will have to halt their operations in the meantime.
Since the department’s announcements, Duterte has repeatedly expressed his support for Lopez.

On February 2, after the announcement of the closures, the President even said he never told Lopez to “slow down a little bit” in doing her work.

Various sectors were well represented in the mining audit, which involved the different DENR bureaus, other government agencies, social action centers of parishes and civil society organizations, she said. Miners were also represented.

“Then all came up with this [mining audit report]. It says here the Clean Air Act, the Forestry Code, all the violations backed up by laws saying that you shouldn’t have violated this way. It’s all here,” she said, pointing to the mine audit findings.


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  1. Only the mining companies and their investors such as the foreigners and politicians are against Gina Lopez but the entire Filipino people and the President are behind her. This is the kind of leader we need to progress and succeed. Incorruptible, action lady and has a vision. GINA LOPEZ for President!

    • Obvious na obvious: Save our air/sea/landscapes NOW, or what’s left of it. Let supply & demand work In Favor of the Filipino People and generation-to-come. Metal prices will just keep rising over time.

      NO Brainer, Julio!

      Mining now contributes only 200B pesos/yr to Filipinos (tinatakbo pang kita-an’t lagayan ng mga hinayupak foreigners & politicians!) Clean & Sustainable Eco-Tourism 1,000B pesos/yr. and E-Commerce add’l 1,500B pesos/yr. for total of 2,500B/yr vs. mining of only 200B/yr.

      Divide mo mga pesos na ‘yan by 100m pinoys:
      Mining = 2,000 pesos per yr. bawa’t isang pinoy;
      Eco-Tourism: 10,000 pesos per yr. bawa’t isang pinoy;
      E-Commerce : 15,000 pesos per yr. bawa’t isang pinoy!

      Mining? check Green & Clean “household GOLD mining, available workdwide” a viable/sustainable alternative to destructive/pollutive “kaingin-mining” by Dr. Steve W. Price https://youtu.be/CT7ZWpREoZM

  2. stop this destruction of mining madaming tao ang masisira madaming tao ang mawawalan ng kinabukasan pano na ang mga batang mahirap na nasa mining ang pamilya pano nila matataguyod ang mga kabaatan isipin nyo nalang yun

    • Much Better, Cleaner, More Sustainable NOW Available. Real example: “mining household GOLD, worldwide” by Dr. Steve W. Price https://youtu.be/CT7ZWpREoZM

      Here’s the math(Annual Income Generated/Contribution to Filipino Families Pockets per year):
      1. Eco-Tourism: $20B/yr = 1Trillion pesos or 6.6% of GDP;
      2. Mining : $4B/yr = 0.2Trillion pesos or 1.3% of GDP;
      3. E-Commerce: : $29B/yr = 1.5Trillion pesos or 10% of GDP

      Choices are clear as daylight. Gising Pinoys!

  3. stop the distruction of ming dahil madaming tao ang mag hihirap pag nag hirap naman sila wala naman kayo gagawin tulong sakinila

  4. Not all of the mining projects are irresponsible to their works, some of their resources are shared to the countries and some of them are traded to other palces like trading for other materials or other things that made up of that resource. so dont ever underestimate the other mining corporations because they are just doing what they have to do. actually they can mine without any people that can be harmed, just dont put the negatives on the back of our mind.

    • All mining operations in the country should be closed. They only benefit the foreign owners and their local dummies. The mineral wealth of the country belongs to the people and not to imperialists bastards who you support !!!

  5. seryoso ka ba? isipin mo nga pag sinara mo yan mas mawawalang ng work ung tao imagine kung gaano kadami usage ng mining need lang ung responsible way kasi kme inaaral namin sa school ikaw ba gina ano ba inaaral mo? mag nakaw ng pera at makitang mag hirap ang tao? di ka mananalo. tae ka lang

    • Mas mabuting isara ang mga minahan dahil yan ay pagnanakaw lang sa kaban ng bayan. Mga dayuhan lang ang mga nakikinabang sa minahan. Anf mga Pilipino pinapalayas sa mga tirahan nila at sinisira ang kanilang kabuhayan. Ginagamit pa ang militar sa pananakot sa mga Kanayunan at kabundukan !!!

  6. Great comment Gina Lopez! And it’s quite stupid! If you indiscriminately close mining firms instead of penalizing violators you’ll surely create more jobless people and essentially spike poverty!

  7. “The Marcopper Mining Disaster occurred on March 24, 1996, on the Philippine island of Marinduque, a province of the Philippines located in the Mimaropa region. It remains one of the largest mining disasters in Philippine history. A fracture in the drainage tunnel of a large pit containing leftover mine tailings led to a discharge of toxic mine waste into the Makulapnit-Boac river system and caused flash floods in areas along the river. One village, Barangay Hinapulan, was buried in six feet of muddy floodwater, causing the displacement of 400 families. Twenty other villages had to be evacuated. Drinking water was contaminated killing fish and freshwater shrimp. Large animals such as cows, pigs and sheep were overcome and killed. The flooding caused the destruction of crops and irrigation channels. Following the disaster, the Boac River was declared unusable.”

    • Tristan Mochino on

      hindi naman po lahat ng mining companies ay ganyoon inisip niyo. Wag mabulag sa pera at isipin niyo rin na pag tinggal ang mining maraming taong maeepektuhan.