MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s anger over mining resurfaced as he visited Benguet where dozens perished in landslides near mining areas, prompting him to float the idea of “closing” the country’s mining industry.
“One day, I will just have to confront Congress. Sabihin ko talaga sa kanila (I’ll really tell them), we have to close the mining industry or better still, plan a period then give Mother Earth a respite [from] the continued endless digging,” he said on Monday, September 17, during a situation briefing in La Trinidad, Benguet.
In the same meeting, he said stopping mining nationwide would require Congress to repeal the Philippine Mining Act. Since the start of his presidency, Duterte has opposed open-pit mining and agreed to a temporary open-pit mining ban.
He has also ordered mining companies to repair environmental damage and compensate farmers and fishermen whose livelihoods are affected by mining operations.
Earlier that day, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu suspended all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region as a response to the deaths of miners who died due to a landslide while trapped in a mining bunkhouse at the height of Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut).
Duterte expressed approval of Cimatu’s decision during the situation briefing.
But Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan appealed to Cimatu to allow certain small-scale operations to continue as long as they are not done in hazard-prone areas.
Local reporters had pointed out the loss of livelihoods of thousands who depend on the industry. – Rappler.com