By Genalyn Kabiling
The government might allow more “responsible” mining operations in the country to help generate more jobs for Filipinos, Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, however, said the President remains opposed to new open-pit mining operations given the environmental damage they cause.
“Ang stand po ng Presidente ay malinaw: tutol po siya sa open-pit mining. Pero doon naman sa ibang responsableng pagmimina ay puwede pong ikonsidera iyan ng Presidente, dahil alam naman natin na iyan pa rin ang nagbibigay ng hanapbuhay at kita sa ating mga kababayan [The President’s stand is clear: He is opposed to open-pit mining but the President may consider other responsible mining because he knows they generate jobs and livelihood for our people],” Roque said in a radio interview.
“Paulit-ulit po niyang sinasabi ang minahan na kanyang tinututulan ay iyong open-pit mining, iyong binubungkal na lang at iniiiwan. Pero kung hindi naman po open-pit mining ay pupuwede naman pong i-konsidera iyan [He repeatedly said he opposes open-pit mining that excavates land and just leave them behind. But if it’s not open-pit mining that may be considered],” he added.
Roque issued the remarks after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) started to look into more potential mining areas in the country to generate extra revenues for the government.
Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, DENR undersecretary for climate change and mining concerns, reportedly said “mineralized areas and high mineral potential areas, including all existing operating mines” were being identified for declaration as mineral reservation areas (MRA).
The list of the sites will reportedly be submitted to the President for declaration as mineral reservations in line with the Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act.
The President earlier threatened to shut down open-pit mining by the end of the year if such mineral development operations don’t clean up their act.
Duterte has said he would rather forego the P70 billion in revenue from the mining sector than risk further damage to the environment. He said the protection of the environment remains a top priority of the government to ensure the use of resources will be beneficial to all people.