By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte said he plans to meet both supporters and anti-mining advocates in order to discuss the environmental issues concerning the destructive operations of the mining companies in the country.
The President also disclosed plans of pushing for a new measure on the mining industry.
“But you know, I’d like to tell you frankly. We would come up with a new legislation, because (Pantaleon) “Bebot” Alvarez, the Speaker, hates mining. And he comes from a mining town,” Duterte told business executives attending the Davao Investment Conference in Davao Friday.
Duterte said the meeting would be intended “to rearrange everything” in the mining industry wherein he plans to gather pro-mining advocates and environmentalists like former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and even militant groups.
“Ganito iyan eh, nakikita ninyo iyong tailings, nakikita ninyo how the siltation has affected the waters and the seas, I do not have to convince you. You were there operating and you know that the rivers are already heavily—not a river anymore, but an egress of some of the waters coming in from the mountain. It’s not a river,” he said.
Duterte said he would show the mining companies the ill effects of their operations on the rivers where the livelihoods of several Filipino farmers are dependent on.
“Then tignan natin iyong slides ng mining gone awry. Tingnan natin. Kung makita mo iyong siltation. So people are deprived now iyong basic livelihood nila. Alam mo ang pinakamura, isda eh. They can grow in the river, may fish pen sila ng ano, haluan, mudfish. And that’s protein to them already. Iyong tanim nila, iyong palay nila, nag-tuyo and the soil has cracked,” he said.
The President said he could not turn a blind eye on the plight of the ordinary farmers who suffer from the damage the mining firms have brought to their communities and complained how measly the government earns from their taxes.
“And so, what am I supposed to do? Just leave it that way because the mining industry pays government something like 70 billion a year? Five percent lang ang tax ko. Papaano iyan? Papaano iyong mga tao na hindi kasali sa corporate world? What will happen to them? Inadequate food. Cannot grow anything anymore and
they are suffering,” he said.
“So if you want, if it’s really… it’s a good business… because if it is not, then why are you there? Napakababa iyong taxes, why don’t you compensate the people that are deprived now of the things that they need and not there because of mining,” he said.
The exploration, development, utilization and processing of all mineral resources in the mining industry are governed under Republic Act 7942, an “Act instituting a new system of mineral resources, development, utilization and conservation.”