President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that he wanted to stop exporting mineral resources and might completely close the mining sector and tax miners to death if damage to the environment persisted.
“The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect one way or another,” Duterte said in his second State of the Nation address (SONA).
Duterte gave them the warning in his second SONA as he stated his bid to ensure responsible mining operations in the Philippines.
“Either I will raise the taxes, ang kita niyan i-reserve ko (what I get there I will reserve) to compensate for those who are suffering. You have to come up with a substitute; either spend to restore the virginity of their source or I will tax you to death. Kasi ‘yung taxes makuha ko talagang ibubuhos ko (Because the taxes I will get, I will really use it),” Duterte said.
The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and also among the top producers of copper and gold. However, the sector contributes less than 1 percent to the country’s economy, based on data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
Earlier on Monday, around 500 farmers and activists staged protests in Sablayan and San Jose Occidental Mindoro and in Roxas,Oriental Mindoro against the continued presence of foreign and large-scale mining companies on their island.
“We have lost bearings on President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to close big mines that have actually caused or are posing massive destruction of the environment. It is not enough to say protect the environment, but President Duterte should be clear-cut in saying “close the big mines,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Mindoro in reaction to Duterte’s State of the Nation Address.
On the other hand, former environment secretary Gina Lopez lauded on Tuesdday President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement against irresponsible mining.
“I am heartened by the statement of President Duterte. It shows his care for the people is genuine,” Lopez said
Duterte’s first appointment as Environment Minister, Regina Lopez, was dismissed in May by the Philippine Congress but she led a 10-month crackdown on the industry, highlighted by the closure and suspension of 26 of the country’s 41 mines.
She also imposed a ban on open-pit mining and demanded a bigger government share in mining revenues, but her orders are now under review, according to a senior official of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.