BAGUIO CITY – President Rodrigo R. Duterte underscored the government never intended to totally stop mining in the country because there is Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 that allows responsible mining amidst the efforts of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to shut down the operation of mining companies that pose a serious threat to the environment.
The Chief Executive that he supports Secretary Lopez in her passion for preserving and protecting the country’s deteriorating state of the environment where mining has been identified as one of the major culprits in the destruction of the environment, especially the watersheds, river systems, rice farms, among others.
He claimed one of the serious problems inflicted by open pit mining is the destruction of the mountains by mining companies, thus, the need for mining companies involved in open pit mining to make sure that once they are done extracting the minerals, it is but appropriate for the said companies to restore the greenery of the mined out area.
“We are doing this because of public service and nothing more. I am willing to fly with Secretary Lopez over the mined out areas and pinpoint those mining companies that deserve to be closed if they do not do their mining operations right,” Duterte stressed.
The president challenged mining companies to comply with the stringent provisions of the law in their mining operations and he is sure that Secretary Lopez will reconsider her position in suspending or temporarily closing their operations in the future.
He admitted the contribution of mining to the country’s economy is only P70 billion and he is willing to forego of the said amount and find other sources of income apart from mining if mining companies continue to defy orders from concerned government agencies to do their operations pursuant to international standards.
In case of a worst case scenario, Duterte assured concerned government agencies are ready to extend assistance to the workers who will be displaced by the permanent closure of a number of mining companies but the concerned companies must also be ready to extend the appropriate assistance to their workers by shelling out a portion of their profit the previous years to allow their workers to find new sources of employment and livelihood.
According to the President, food assistance for the displaced workers is available with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) while other forms of assistance to be extended to them will be sourced out from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Duterte pointed out addressing the needs of the workers to be displaced by the permanent closure of some mining companies should be the responsibility of both the government and the mining companies concerned to find new sources of livelihood and employment that will allow them and their families to have a sustainable source of income.