President Rodrigo Duterte said he could do only a little to solve the problems besetting the mining industry, as its practices, though detrimental to the environment, are allowed by law.
“Even before, I wanted to stop mining. But if it were not for the fact that it’s allowed by law, little could [be done] about it,” Duterte said in a briefing in Isabela Tuesday evening.
“I cannot stop mining because I’m not allowed to abrogate any law here. But I want to stop it because it has created a monster,” he said.
According to Duterte, there are a lot of big open pit mining locations that have been abandoned and taken over by the illegals.
He added that his economic managers would not like the idea of closing down the mining industry as it generates P70 billion in earnings in a year.
“The economic managers are very hesitant at the very least. We only earn P70 billion, but you know when the consequences of mining happen, you spend more than just that,” Duterte said.
“It cannot cover the whole devastation of plants and palay and everything, not to mention the destruction of the marine life and tributaries along the way,” he said, encouraging people to travel
Mindanao and the rest of the country to look at the negative effects of mining.
“They [miners] are not only destroying marine life, but it also puts in jeopardy and peril the stomach of Filipinos,” the President said.
“I do not hate mining, it’s allowed. But I would say a time must come when our motherland is overused and abused, and this cannot go on,” he said.
He then called miners who occupy watershed areas “downright stupid.”
“I don’t know if I have to call a revolution just for mining. Revolution in the sense that I’m not using arms, but I’ll force them [miners] out,” said Duterte.
“So, I’d like to ask them, how much P70 billion can do to the country if you compare it to the losses of the Philippines because of mining?” he said, addressing his economic managers.
In a similar situation in Benguet Monday, Duterte said there would come a day when he will just have to talk with lawmakers about closing the mining industry.
“One day, I said, I will just have to confront Congress. I will really tell them, ‘We have to close the mining industry or better still plan a period then give Mother Earth a respite [from] the continued and endless digging’,”Duterte said.
The President added that if he cannot end mining because there’s a law, it is then the Congress’ job to abrogate the law and end mining.
The Palace on Tuesday said the President has made clear his desire to repeal the Mining Act to stop destructive mining practices.
“He has insinuated already, that is high time for everyone to consider doing away with mining,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque in a Palace press briefing Tuesday afternoon.
Roque also said the rehabilitation of Boracay Island could be used as a model for rectifying the small-scale mining practices and help miners affected by the suspension of all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
“The administration accepts this Itogon incident as a challenge, it’s good that we have a model, and that model was Boracay,” Roque said in Filipino.
“It’s akin to rehabilitating the mined out areas in the Cordillera and it could be an attempt to actually allow the environment to recover because this is actually the result of environmental degradation,” he added.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to “revisit and validate” all applications for people’s small-scale mining areas or “minahang bayan” sites to determine their safety against geological hazards.
“We will be stricter in approving ‘minahang bayan’ sites, and affirm whether they conform to standards that are safe, especially for the miners,” he said.
He also ordered the MGB to ensure the shelters provided to small-scale miners are safe and do not pose risk to them.
“Their residences should be far enough from identified geohazard areas,” the DENR chief said.
He issued the statement after the MGB office in the Cordillera Autonomous Region confirmed that 10 associations of small-scale miners had been granted temporary mining contracts in Itogon, Benguet, pending the declaration of a “minahang bayan.”
At least 35 people died due to landslides in Itogon at the height of typhoon “Ompong.”
Cimatu immediately ordered the revocation of all the temporary contracts effective immediately, and called a stop to all small-scale mining activities in the region.
Cimatu said he would request the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to help the MGB impose complete stoppage of all mining activities in CAR.
He urged local government units to consult geohazard maps prepared and issued by the DENR, which clearly indicates landslide and flood prone areas.
A panel in the House of Representatives has created a technical working group that will review proposals on a rationalized fiscal regime applicable to all mineral agreements.
The bill, authored by Rep. Estrellita Suansing of Nueva Ecija, proposes to retain the imposition of the corporate income tax on the mining sector to level the playing field among all other sectors. It also proposes to impose an additional government share when the basic government share is less than 50 percent of the net mining revenue. With Maricel V. Cruz and PNA
The other proposal is HB 422, authored by Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina City, establishes the fiscal regime and revenue sharing arrangement between the government and the mining contractor for large-scale metallic mineral mining operations, wherein the government share shall be 10 percent of gross revenue or 55 percent of the Adjusted Net Mining Revenue, whichever is higher. With Maricel V. Cruz and PNA
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