Mining firms, environmentalists back Duterte whip vs irresponsible miners
SURIGAO CITY – The mining sector and pro-environment advocates in the Caraga region are supporting the move by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to crack the whip on irresponsible miners.
Dulmar Raagas, president of the Chamber of Mines-Caraga Region, Inc. (CMRI), and Bishop Modesto Villasanta, a member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a co-convenor of environment advocacy group Caraga Watch, have expressed support for Duterte’s call on the mining industry to shape up.
“Our members have always been for responsible mining, and we find no disagreement with President Duterte on his declared policy for an Australian-standard mining operation. It’s actually good for our members because once the government raises the bar, it means we have to double our efforts,” said Raagas.
Bishop Villansanta said the time has come for the President himself to oversee the mining industry, which he described as “being pampered and treated with kid gloves by the Aquino administration.”
“We need an iron hand to keep this ‘pasaway’ (wayward) mining companies in check,” he said of Duterte’s plan to have himself installed as the country’s temporary environment and natural resources secretary. He will head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Villasanta also called on Duterte to revisit the case of SR Metals Inc. (SRMI), which has been accused of over-extracting nickel ore worth billions of pesos, while damaging the environment.
Caraga Watch earlier accused the Aquino administration of protecting the mining firm because its owners are politically connected with the Liberal Party.
With over 20 operating large-scale mining companies, Caraga Region is known as the country’s de facto mining capital.
Duterte’s vow to rid the country of irresponsible miners, Villasanta said, “bodes well for Caraga Region and its people.”
Raagas expressed confidence Duterte would be “fair to mining companies.”
“As in any other sector, the mining industry has also rotten apples in its ranks. However, we believe that the new president is a just and fair leader who will weigh things based on evidence,” he added.Raagas also called on Duterte to crack down on illegal small-scale miners, whose destructive practices, he said, “are far more evident but often ignored.” SFM
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