Duterte: I support 'pro-poor' Gina Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his support for Environment Secretary Gina Lopez after she announced the closure of operations of 21 mining firms.

"You know, I support her. And there was never a time that I called her to slow down a little bit because on one hand is the strict implementation of the mining laws," said Duterte on Thursday, February 2, during a speech in Davao City.

Before saying this, he had mentioned how he had read in the newspapers about Lopez' closure of some mining operations.

Duterte, who portrays himself as a populist leader, lauded Lopez' "pro-poor" stance.

"She's so passionate about, not about the mining laws but about the little men on the land tilling," he said.

"She's the pro-people, pro-poor policies that I said when I took her in, 'You can have your way, just be fair and make it legal,'" said the President.

Earlier on Thursday, Lopez announced the closure of mining operations "in functional water sheds."

Mining firms can appeal the DENR's decision before the Office of the President.

Duterte had previously said he would only allow mining operations that abide by the government's environmental standards. – 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.