MANILA, Philippines – Since President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Gina Lopez secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, mining has become one of the most talked about issues in the country. (READ: Investors in mining panic over Gina Lopez appointment)
During their term, the Dutertes banned mining in Davao City. Meanwhile, Lopez, a known anti-mining advocate, has been involved in spats with big mining companies because of her strong statements against mining.
Coming from the Aquino administration, which created an executive order that stressed the need to raise government’s share in mining revenues and which imposed a moratorium on new mining contracts, what possible changes could be seen in this sector in the next 6 years?
Here’s a rundown of what the Duterte administration has said so far about the mining industry.
1. ‘Responsible’ mining only
In the middle of his campaign sometime in February, Duterte expressed support for it, provided that companies follow “responsible” mining. He said mining companies should follow the environmental standards set by countries like Australia and Canada, or else, suffer sanctions. (READ: If elected, Duterte to allow responsible mining)
After being elected, he has since reiterated his stance.
Lopez, on the other hand, has been quoted as saying there is no such thing as responsible mining.
“If there is responsible mining why is it that wherever there is mining, there is poverty?” she said. “The poorest sites in the country are mining areas,” Lopez said in an Inquirer article.
In a separate interview, Lopez said that for mining to be called responsible, “you have to have the highest standards,” referring to the mining companies’ supposed adherence to ISO 14001 Certification as a measure of responsible mining.
2. Philippine Mining Act of 1995 is unfair
In one of her interviews, Lopez said of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, it is “unfair” because it is “skewed towards the mining sector, and not towards our people.” (READ: Gina Lopez: Philippine Mining Act an ‘unfair’ law)
“You cannot build an economy, a company based on suffering. I will not allow it to happen in DENR,” she said.
3. Fair audit of mining companies
When she ordered an audit of all mining companies in the country, Lopez gave assurances everything will be based on fairness.
“The audit will be fair. I commit to the truth,” she said, warning companies that violate the law they will “face the consequences.”
The audit team, she added, will not only be technical, but also social and environmental, since it consists of agriculturists, fishery experts, water experts, and those involved in community development.
When Duterte delivers his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25, what will he say about his administration’s mining policies? (READ: Duterte’s 1st SONA: What we know about the awaited speech) –Rappler.com