MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the environment department to "go ahead" and "amend, suspend, or revoke" environmental permits if warranted.
During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25, Duterte warned industries that affect the environment to comply with government standards.
"[The Department of Environment and Natural Resources] is likewise directed to review all permits granted to the mining, logging and other environmental-sensitive activities. Ensure compliance with government standards and if warranted – ito na 'yung pinakamaganda (this is the best part) – amend, suspend, or revoke permits. Go ahead," Duterte said.
His statement comes almost a month after Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the audit of all existing mines in the country, as directed by the President himself.
Since then, at least 4 mining companies have been suspended for violating environmental standards: BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Incorporated, Eramen Minerals Incorporated, LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated, and Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation.
On Monday, Duterte defended the appointment of Lopez as environment secretary.
"We both share the same goal. She is just doing her job. She is a crusader," he said after looking for Lopez among the audience.
Duterte also mentioned the development of Laguna Lake, and garbage disposal.
"Laguna Lake shall be transformed into a vibrant economy, the zone showcasing ecotourism by addressing the negative impact of watershed disruption, land conversion and pollution," he said.
He added: "The poor fishermen will have priority in its entitlement."
Addressing Lopez, Duterte said there must be a reduction of areas of occupation.
"They cannot have their cake and eat it too. This must stop. Sino'ng may-ari niyan (who owns that) – general, mayor, governor, baka (maybe) congressman? This is not personal, this is something that I feel which I must do because it is the right thing to do."
Duterte also said the final closure and rehabilitation of the Carmona sanitary landfill will be pursued "to have adequate disposal facilities for the Metro Manila garbage."
"The adoption of appropriate waste-to-energy facilities will be explored. The technology is coming very fast," he added. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.