Lopez on collision course with 2 Cabinet colleagues
Newly-appointed Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said President Duterte himself told her to impose a moratorium on new mining sites and to tell existing mining operators to “get their act together.”
Meeting officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Wednesday, Lopez said the directive came even as she told the incoming President that she expected to cross swords with other members of his Cabinet who had mining interests.
She mentioned Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who was associated with Glencore Xstrata and Lafayette Mining that operated in Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay, and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar whose older brother Manuel Paolo is president of St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. that will operate the planned King-king gold and copper mine in Compostela Valley.
“I told him there are many mining owners in your Cabinet like Dominguez, Villar. We will surely clash, is that OK with you?” Lopez recalled telling Duterte in Davao City on Tuesday.
“He said, ‘No problem… You know what you should do, just declare a moratorium on all new mining.’ Wow, that didn’t come from me, that came from him,” the longtime anti-mining advocate said.
Lopez reiterated to DENR officials that she is against the “use of resources that cause suffering to the people.”
“The existing mining sites have to get their act together. Why would we allow more and more mining when we don’t even have one good performing mine site? We don’t even have one, unless you can tell me one,” she said.
“Each mining site here causes suffering… We do not even have one rehabilitated mining after 100 years of mining, why would we do it?” she went on.
Aware that mining shares plunged last week when it was announced the DENR post was offered to her, Lopez said that while she was aware the companies lost billions of pesos in their stock value, “the poor don’t understand the stock market, they don’t care about the stock market.” Dona Z. Pazzibugan
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