President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his plan to ban open-pit mining, in his speech on Wednesday, July 4, during the 31st founding anniversary celebration of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City.
Open pit mining is “really destroying the land,” Duterte said.
“So I’d like to reiterate to you again what I said during the last meeting in the Cabinet that there will be a time, I still have time left, that I will have to ban open-pit mining. I will destroy it,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he told incumbent Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu that “there has to be a time that we have to decide just to tell them frankly.”
The President said the government can find other sources of the PHP70 billion which the country gets from the mining industry.
“Open-pit mining is really destroying the land. It catches — it’s like a water basin. It catches the water. Loosens the soil. And every now and then, you have this landslide,” Duterte said.
He said the poor Filipino people living near the open-pit mining are helpless.
“The mining people know that I will really stop it. Maybe they’d try to revive it at some other time, but it’s not really my concern anymore. I’ll just do what I have to do during my time,” the President said.
Duterte also said that he suspects the mining industry was behind the rejection last year of former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).
During her brief as DENR chief, Lopez drew the ire of the mining industry when she ordered the closure of over-mining sites that affect the water sheds and threatened to ban open-pit mining in the country.
“When Ma’am Gina was removed by the Commission on Appointments. It was maybe because she became very strong against the mining industry. I think there was a conspiracy to remove her. And they did,” Duterte said.
“Well anyway, the rest is history. She was doing well. She was going against moneyed people and she was against the destruction of her native land,” he added.
Duterte described Lopez as passionate “in expressing your anger and your desire to save our country, the native land”.
Meanwhile, Duterte commended the DENR officials and employees for ensuring the proper conservation and management of the environment and natural resources in the last 30 years.
”For more than three decades, you have been government’s effective arm in ensuring the proper conservation, management, development and use of the country’s environment and natural resources,” Duterte said.
“Through your efforts, we ensure that the benefits of nature are shared by all Filipinos today as well as the future generations,” he added.
Duterte urged the DENR to “continue to faithfully fulfill its mandate despite external pressures from stakeholders with competing interest”.
He also called on DENR personnel to continue supporting the development agenda of his administration “so that we can uplift the lives of our kababayans and give them the decent and comfortable lives they rightfully deserved”.
“I assure you that you have my full support in this endeavor. Don’t be afraid to work. This I can guarantee you: However busy I am, if you do your duty in accordance with the law,” he said.
“(If) you are facing a suit or you are being sued and you believe it’s part of your job, just tell me the truth and I will defend you. That I can assure,” he added, drawing applause from the audience inside the amphitheater of Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center.
Duterte congratulated the recipients of the patents and titles that DENR has distributed through “Handog Titulo 2018”.
“I congratulate the recipients of the patents and titles and I hope that these can help them improve the quality of their lives and that of their families,” he said. (PNA)