DAVAO CITY – Incoming Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the next government is “definitely not anti-mining” but insisted the Duterte administration is committed to push for responsible mining.
A statement released by the office of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, June 22, and read by Abella said: “The Duterte administration is committed to promoting a robust and dynamic economy with every sector contributing to its growth.”
It said “responsible mining plays a key role in the Philippines.”
“The key word here is responsible and the president has made his position very clear: You have to do it right. If you cannot do it right, then get out of mining,” Abella read.
The President also asked mining companies to apply the standards of responsible mining as practiced in developed countries, including Canada and Australia “to ensure the protection of the environment.”
Abella cited instances where miners operating in a particular area damages the forest.
“That has to be replanted, that is the responsible way of doing it. But irresponsible mining would just leave it like that,” he said.
He added that the mining practice of using toxic chemicals to extract minerals also pollutes the water system and the community.
“That is being very, very irresponsible. So what the President is demanding is those who do that must be very careful not to leave toxic materials around. That’s responsible mining,” he said.
Abella said Duterte is supportive of businesses that will contribute to the Philippine economy.
“However, he is very clear that for whatever venture we go into, it must be in a responsible manner,” he said.
“But he is not anti-mining. Definitely not,” Abella added.
New environment chief
Duterte recently named environmental advocate Gina Lopez as the new environment secretary.
Lopez is a known anti-mining advocate.
However, Abella said that he believes Lopez after accepting the post, “is willing to adjust her positions.”
‘Be consistent’, Lopez told
Meanwhile, indigenous people’s group Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas is calling on the new environment chief to “be consistent on her stand against destructive mining.”
“The indigenous peoples (IP) who are greatly affected by destructive mining also call on Secretary Lopez to thoroughly pursue President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to heed the peoples growing demand to end large-scale and destructive mining not only in Mindanao but throughout the country,” it said.
The group also urged Lopez to investigate all mining operations and hold those that are accountable of destroying the environment. They also demanded that the government declare a moratorium in approving new applications.
“Almost 60 percent of approved mining applications are situated in IP territories and resulted in the destruction of IP land and livelihood,” Katribu said in a statement on Thursday, June 23.
The IPs also recommended to the incoming Duterte administration to “re-orient the domestic mining industry, repeal the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 that legalizes the destruction of the environment and violates peoples’ rights and enact a pro-people, pro-environment law.” (davaotoday.com)