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Duterte rejects MICC proposal to lift open-pit mining ban

BAN REMAINS. President Rodrigo Duterte takes questions from the media on November 21, 2017. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

BAN REMAINS. President Rodrigo Duterte takes questions from the media on November 21, 2017.

Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday, November 21, that he will reject the recommendation of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to lift the ban on open-pit mining. 

"Ayaw ko (I don't like it) because it is destroying the soil and walang corrective measures kaagad (there are no corrective measures right away)," he told reporters during an interview in Taguig City. 

Duterte said he would have followed the recommendation if he were convinced that mining companies would be able to immediately rectify the damage to the environment wrought by their operations. (READ: Duterte warns miners: Spend on rehab 'or I'll tax you to death')

"'Di na bale sana kung may makita akong (It would have been okay if I saw in the) scraped area, when I go back there to visit the place, I could see a lot of trees growing and the environment corrected of its destruction," the President said.

He added that, as a Filipino, he is "hurt" by the impact of mining on the environment, all for the profit of big corporations. 

Duterte said he and the government could do away with the "billions" of taxes mining companies pay in order to be able to mine.

"How much do I earn from the taxation? So what kung wala tayo (if we don't get any)?" the President asked. (READ: Duterte to mining industry: 'Filipinos will survive without you')

In late October, the MICC recommended that the ban on open-pit mining be lifted. The ban was put in place by former environment secretary Gina Lopez back in April, with Duterte's vocal support.

The MICC is co-chaired by Lopez's replacement, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. 

The MICC is still studying the closure or suspension of 26 mines ordered by Lopez. Results of the review are expected in 2018. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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