Duterte says Lopez right on open-pit mining ban, but wants enough leeway for mining companies

Image from Gina Lopez's Facebook account
  • President agreed with former DENR chief’s stand on open-pit mining
  • He said he has ordered her successor to look into eventual cessation of activity
  • However, he also said he wants mining companies enough leeway to modify their activities

MANILA, Philippines – Saying he agreed with former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s stand on open-pit mining, President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that he has instructed her successor Roy Cimatu to look into the permanent cessation of the activity.

Open-pit mining is very dangerous environment activity. Gina is right there. Yesterday, I asked General Cimatu, who is the Secretary of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), to look into the eventual closure of the open-pit mining,” ABS-CBN quoted him as saying. “I agree with Gina Lopez. That has to stop sometime.”

At the  same time, however, Duterte said he is open to their resumption in the future provided mining companies come up with a safer and healthier alternative.

“But I’ll give the mining companies enough elbow room for eventual change or the modality of getting what’s inside the bowels of the earth,” he said.

Lopez have appealed to the president not to overturn her ban order which is currently under review by an inter-agency mining council.

According to Lopez, the presence of open-pit mines — aside from being destructive to health and the environment — would also be a heavy financial liability on taxpayers and the government.

“We’d have to detox that open pit water forever. Who is going to do that? The government? Each open pit is a financial liability to government for life because no matter if the mining company commits to take care of that open pit, will they take care of it forever?” she said. “It is a financial liability for life, and is it right that our taxpayers’ money, meant for our people, for food, for education, for our people, be used to address open pit? But if the mining company goes, what choice do we have?”