By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte renewed his warning to the mining firms to clean up their mess or face what might be the end of the industry in the country.
In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, Duterte reiterated that his policy in the utilization of natural resources is non-negotiable.
“The protection of the environment must be top priority and extracted resources must be used for the benefit of the Filipino people, not just a select few,” he said.
“Do not just give me taxes. I can get it from other sources. Give me what needs to be given to my countrymen,” he added.
According to Duterte, he is warning mining firms for the last time to do something about the damage they have caused to the environment or he will restrict their operations.
“To the mining industry, I say this once again and maybe for the last time, do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources; repair what you have mismanaged,” Duterte warned.
“Try to change [your] management radically because this time you will have restrictive policies. The prohibition of open-pit mining is one,” he added.
The President also reiterated his point that the mishandling of the mining industry is destroying the country, the future of the youth, and the environment.
Duterte said that he will invite miners to Diwalwal in Compostela Valley if they would want to see the adverse effects of the mining industry.
“Again, I warn irresponsible miners, along with their patrons, to stop destroying our watersheds, recharge areas, forests, and aquatic resources. You can no longer fish in our rivers. It’s all contaminated. And the color is not even brown or white, it’s black,” he said.
“You want to see it? I will invite you. We can go to Diwalwal and the other mining areas. I’m sure you will puke with what is happening to this country,” he added.
According to Duterte, mining firms should expect radical change to happen as he will not back down in his campaign to protect the environment.
“Expect reforms, radical ones. I cannot intend to quarrel with anybody, with the moneyed, but for as long as I am here I said: you will just have to contend with me,” he said.
“I expect you to do your part in ensuring our nation’s sustainable development, starting now,” he added.
Meanwhile, Duterte also urged all concerned agencies and local government units to uphold the concept of inter-generational responsibility in the exploration and utilization of our mineral wealth, the protection and preservation of our biodiversity, anchored on the right to a balanced and healthy ecology.
Earlier, Duterte said that he is determined to ban open-pit mining as he reiterates that it destroys the environment.
He said that he believes the government can find the revenue obtained from mining elsewhere, if the industry would really be shut down.
In April this year, Duterte gave mining firms six months to plant new trees on affected lands or have their permits revoked. He also urged mining companies to think hard about his pronouncement as he is determined to ban the activity.