Duterte giving mixed signals on mining policy – Robredo

By Raymund Antonio

The Duterte administration has been giving mixed signals on whether to close down or suspend mining operations in the country, Vice President Leni Robredo said.

Vice President Leni Robredo (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN) Vice President Leni Robredo
(Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte has again floated the idea of stopping mining in the Philippines following the tragic landslides that killed people in Itogon, Benguet and Naga City, Cebu in the aftermath of typhoon “Ompong.”

“Noong si Secretary Gina Lopez iyong nakaupo, parang iyong mensahe na binibigay ng gobyerno talagang zero mining. Pero hindi rin na-impose kasi marami din talagang mga realities na kailangang harapin (When Secretary Gina Lopez was still in office, the message that the government was sending was really zero mining. But it was not imposed because of the many realities it had to face),” Robredo said.

“Pero noong umalis din si Secretary Gina, parang iba ulit iyong signals. Parang hindi umusad kung ano man iyong mga pagbabago na kailangang harapin (But when Secretary Gina left, the signals were different. It seemed the needed changes were not moving forward),” Robredo continued.

The Vice President shared her assessment on what the present administration is doing to address the problem with mining, which led to the destruction of environment, during her weekly radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni.”

Since the start of his presidency, Duterte has opposed open-pit mining and agreed to a temporary open-pit mining ban.

The Chief Executive has repeatedly called out the mining companies for the heavy environmental impact of their operations. He even ordered them to repair the damage and compensate farmers and fisherfolk whose livelihoods have been affected by mining activities.

Robredo, a former housing chief in the Duterte Cabinet, noted the government dwelled on destructive effects of mining only after the massive landslides claimed several lives in Itogon town and Naga City.

“Tapos ngayon, nangyari iyong landslide, maraming mga taong namatay saka ulit nabuhay (Then now, after the landslide killed many people, it resurfaced),” she said.

The opposition leader said the Duterte administration could have handled the issues on mining better.

“Kasi iyong ayaw natin mangyari na parang reactive lang iyong gobyerno. Kapag walang nangyayaring ganito, walang inaasikaso. Kapag may nangyayaring ganito, parang extreme naman iyong pag-react (Because we don't want to happen the government is only reactive. If nothing happens, it won't dealt with it. If something happens like this, the reaction is extreme),” she said.