‘There’s a mining law, we can’t banish it,’ Duterte reminds Cimatu
The new Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu must protect the environment, but mining operations cannot be banished from the Philippines because there is a law that allow these, President Duterte said on Wednesday.
Mr. Duterte made the statement as he recalled his directive to Cimatu, who replaced environmentalist Gina Lopez as chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
He said he had told Cimatu that there will never be a time that he would call him for any favor for anybody.
“All that I ask of you is just to be true to yourself, to be true to your country and protect the environment. But remember there is a mining law and we cannot all together banish it,” he recalled telling the new environment chief.
Unless the mining law is erased from the statute books, extraction operations have to be regulated and allowed, he said.
“We want stricter measures. But there’s the mining law, so what can we do? The law itself allows it. And if you just disregard it, that will be an impeachable offense,” he added.
During Lopez’ time as DENR chief, she had run up against mining firms after she shut down their operations that she said affected watershed areas. She had also canceled scores of mineral production sharing agreements.
Mining firms and some academics had questioned her methods and opposed her confirmation at the Commission on Appointments, but she won applause from environmentalists.
Mr. Duterte also said on Wednesday that there was no new government post for Lopez at this time.