Duterte goes after miners
President Duterte has again warned the mining industry to stop operations that are harming the environment, adding that the sector was up for “radical reforms.”
“I say this once again and maybe for the last time: Do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources,” Mr. Duterte said during his State of the Nation Address on Monday.
Mr. Duterte cited, among others, the water degradation in Diwalwal.
“You can no longer fish in the rivers. It’s all contaminated and the color is not even brown or purple or white. It’s black,” he said.
In separate phone interviews, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) executive director Ronnie Recidoro and Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA) Joey Ayson said that while they supported the stance of the President, they pointed out that it is the small-scale mining sector that has been violating government regulations.
Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones, meanwhile, said the agency was fast-tracking the declaration of mining areas for “Minahang Bayan,” a program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to legalize small-scale mining operations across the country.
Leones admitted that “small-scale mining is the problem,” as large-scale miners are “easier to manage since they have the capacity to rehabilitate sites.”
Industry group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), for its part, called on the President to cut incentives to the mining industry.
“This will be our measure whether the administration is really doing its part in protecting the environment. We need concrete policies,” ATM spokesperson Jaybee Garganera said.
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