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Duterte rejects call to lift ban on open-pit mining

/ 08:43 PM November 21, 2017
EARTH’S SCAR An open gold-copper mining pit of OceanaGold activity in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya province. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRERNORTHERNLUZON

EARTH’S SCAR An open gold-copper mining pit of OceanaGold activity in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya province. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRERNORTHERNLUZON

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday rejected the recommendation of the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to lift the ban on open-pit mining in the Philippines.

“Ayaw ko (lifting ban on open-pit mining) because it is destroying the soil and the environment. Ate along corrective measures agad,” Duterte told reporters in a media interview in Pasay City.

The President lamented the destruction caused by open-pit mining to the environment.

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“You go to places where there’s an open-pit mining and you can see the destruction of the soil mismo, the environment,” he said.

“Yan ang problema because ‘yung mina-mine mo diyan, ‘yung ini-scrape mo, you do not have to dig a hole unlike oars, paikot ng paikot ‘yan, palalim ng palalim. Ito, they will just scrape the surface of the earth because nandiyan ‘yung nickel,” he added.

He said that while open-pit mining brings “good profit maybe,” he could “let it go.”

“Nickel is just above the ground. Okay ‘yan, it’s good profit maybe. Pero magtingin ako sabayan ko nawala naman akong nakikitang trees na sumusunod,” he said.

“I must see the trees growing or blooming. Otherwise, why will I suffer for you? I’m depriving to… the country. Sisirahan kita. How much do I earn from the taxation? About 70 billion a year? I can let it go. So what kung wala tayo?” he added.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had earlier told reporters that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would issue a DAO (DENR Administrative Order) restoring open-pit mining operations.

“A majority of the MICC members voted to recommend a change in the policy of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with regard to DAO (DENR Administrative Order) 2017-10, particularly, that the DENR lift the ban on open-pit mining provided that mining laws, rules and regulations are strictly enforced,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu cochairs the Cabinet-level, interagency MICC together with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

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In an April, former environment secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez issued DAO 2017-10 that imposed a ban on the open-pit method of mining.

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