Think tank urges Duterte to stand firm on DENR’s closure of mines

Feb. 20, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte shares a light moment with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez during the 9th Cabinet Meeting in Malacañan on December 5, 2016. (King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Independent think tank and research group IBON said that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte should stand firm with the decision of Department of Environment and Natural Resources to close several mining companies after it failed to pass the agency’s mining audit.

IBON’s statement came as Duterte said last Friday that he would review the closure order issued by DENR against a score of mines, saying it would hurt the country’s economy.

“I will review. There’s such a thing as exhaustion of administrative remedies,” Duterte said in a speech before the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1967 in the Baguio Country Club.

Duterte said that country is earning a huge amount of money out of the mining operations across the country.

“We get something like 70 billion a year out of the mining operations in the entire Philippines. We have to also take into consideration and that’s really money,” Duterte added.

It can be recalled that the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines questioned the closure order of DENR and warned of the massive jobs and revenue losses that it will entail. Finance secretary and Mining Industry Coordinating Council Carlos Dominguez also cautioned that the DENR orders would “cost affected local governments millions in foregone revenues.”

But IBON refuted the mining companies’ claims that large scale mining has brought development to the country, saying that while mineral exports hit a high US$3.4 billion in 2013, mining contributed a measly 0.7 percent to gross domestic product in the same year.

“The sector’s contribution grew to this level only from 0.5% after more than a decade of operations. The annual average share of mining revenues to total government revenues in 2009-2012 was only 1.18 percent,” the group added.

IBON said the contribution of the mining and quarrying sector to employment was also negligible at 0.7 percent of total employment.

Apart from these, the research group noted that since the enactment of the Philippine Mining Act in 1995, a string of mining disasters occurred which resulted to human deaths and destruction of the environment, among others.

With this, IBON said the closure and suspension order is “a positive step for the protection of the Philippine environment and towards ensuring that the country’s natural resources benefit the Filipino people.”

It added that the government should uphold the mining ban and be “wary of opposition coming from certain members of the cabinet involved in the mining sector which could derail efforts to advance the people’s interests.”

Duterte earlier expressed support for DENR secretary Gina Lopez’ order to close down 23 mining firms and suspend five more due to grave violations against the environment. Lopez has also ordered the cancellation of 75 mining contracts. ​(

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