De Lima bewails lifting of ban on open-pit mining

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has criticized the Duterte government for lifting the four-year ban on open-pit mining in the country, saying such a move shows total disregard for the environment and the welfare of the people.

De Lima said the government should reinstate the ban on open-pit mining, which could be a breeding ground for greedy capitalists.

"How desperate is Duterte right now that he caved in to mining lobbyists to undo an almost term-long policy against open-pit mining?" De Lima said in a statement.

“Open-pit mining presents a slippery slope where greedy capitalists are given the opportunity to ruthlessly exploit our natural resources and present our regulators and public officials extremely tempting moral hazards,” she stressed.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu had reportedly signed Administrative Order No. 2021-40 last Dec. 23, lifting the four-year-old ban on the open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver, and complex ores.

De Lima recalled the ban was enforced in 2017 and was one of the high-impact measures taken by the late Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who was known for her green advocacies.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, maintained that open-pit mining will bring more harm than good to the entire populace.

She cited several adverse effects on the lifting of ban on pit-mining, such as environmental destruction, and worsening of the plight of Typhoon "Odette" victims, among others.

She pointed out the effects of open-pit mining in the country’s environment and communities can be seen through deforestation happening in the country’s forests, loss of biodiversity, dirty watersheds and the displacement of indigenous peoples from their land.

Ultimately, De Lima stressed the government should prioritize the welfare of the people which is far more important than money.

"The welfare of our people must always be paramount. No amount of money can pay for a truly sustainable development that would meet our present needs without compromising those of our future generations,” the re-electionist senator reiterated.

De Lima had earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1075 which seeks to prohibit black sand mining operations in the country which she said continue to wreak environmental havoc while placing people's health and livelihood at great peril.