Duterte to mining firms: Don't pollute rivers, displace IPs

Published August 28, 2021, 5:16 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The national government will come after mining companies that end up “destroying the life of a river,” President Duterte said in a recent public briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte (rightmost) listens to the presentation of DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu (2nd from right) during the “Talk to the People” public briefing last Aug.26, 2021 (Malacañang photo)

“Kayong mga mining companies, kutkot kayo nang kutkot tapos ‘yung mga tailings ninyo bumababa doon sa tubig (You mining companies, you continue to tinker on mountains and the your tailings drip into the water), then it contaminates the rivers,” he said during the “Talk to the People” public briefing on late Thursday night, Aug. 26.

Duterte noted the adverse effects that mining-triggered river contamination would have on the local communities.

“Iyong mga tao — ‘yung mga indigenous tribes doon, mga IP [Indigenous Peoples] doon ‘yan sila kumukuha sa isda, sa ligo nila (The indigenous tribes there, the IP, they get fish and bathe in the river), and then the water becomes brown kagaya ng ‘yang nilinis mo (like what you cleaned up), then it becomes black.

“Eh saan mo ilagay ‘yung Pilipino ngayon? Iyong [mga katutubo]? Iyon ang problema — ‘yun ang sa inyo kasi kung medyo (Now, where would the place the Filioinos? The natives? That the problem because) — you cross that line of destroying a river, the life of a river, then government will just have to come in and stop you,” Duterte said.

The majority of comments Duterte made during his latest public briefing delved into environmental issues, since he was feeding off from the presentation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu before other Cabinet members.

The Chief Executive bared how he intends to handle careless mining firms.

“Madali lang man ho ‘yan para kay Roy pati sa akin (That’s easy for me and Roy). All I have to do is just to cancel your permit to operate. Ganoon lang ‘yan. Pero hindi namin ‘yan ginagawa unnecessarily (That’s how. But we don’t do that unnecessarily), unless it is in proportion of a disaster,” he said.

Duterte said he has already witnessed such ecological degeneration in Diwalwal, also known as Mt. Diwata in Compostela Valley.

“Makikita ninyo ‘yan sa Diwalwal (That can be seen in Diwalwal). First, it was a clean water, long time ago when I — I used to accompany my father. Kaganda ng lugar na ‘yan, Diwalwal Diwalwal was a beautiful place). It was a paradise. Then the gold rush came, pumasok — pumasok ‘yung tao (the people came in). The river, from a clear white became brown, and itim na (now it’s black),” he recounted.