MANILA, Philippines – "No one can buy me – no mining company, no business entity, or anybody. Nobody. I commit to God, country, and Mindanao."
This was the statement of new Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Mario Luis Jacinto, who took over the government's crackdown on mining companies that violate environmental standards.
Jacinto was onstage with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez at the Mindanao Environment Summit held at the Ateneo de Davao University on Thursday, August 4.
He was responding to Lopez, who asked him: "Louie, why don't you tell them you're not committed to any mining company, not even one? Even if I give you P5 million? P10 million? P20 million? Can they buy you?"
On Thursday, Lopez, an anti-mining advocate prior to her appointment to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), gave her marching orders to Jacinto.
"Your loyalty is not to any mining company....Your loyalty is to God and country," she told Jacinto. (READ: DENR's Lopez: 'I won't allow people to suffer')
Jacinto then gave his commitment to hold accountable companies that will violate environmental laws.
Through Presidential Directive No. 002 series of 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Jacinto as director in a concurrent capacity corollary to his appointment as DENR undersecretary.
According to the MGB website, Jacinto is a licensed geologist who started with the bureau in August 1977. He was assigned to Mindanao and served as DENR regional technical director (1987 to 1990), and DENR regional executive director (1990-1992).
From 2001 to 2010, he was Davao City's planning and development coordinator under Duterte, who was then the city mayor.
He took over the audit on all mining companies in the country – including those in Mindanao – which Lopez started as soon as she assumed office. (READ: Gina Lopez: I really don't like Tampakan open-pit mine at all)
To date, the government has suspended the operations of at least 6 mining companies in Zambales and Palawan.
Duterte earlier warned mining companies that he can forego billions government collects from the industry. (READ: Duterte: 'Amend, suspend, revoke' environmental permits, if needed)
"The Filipinos will survive without you. Either you follow strictly government standards or you close up," the President had said. – 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.