President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, September 17, stressed that it is time to seriously look into the perils caused by the mining industry in the country.
The President, during the situation briefing on the aftermath of Typhoon ‘Ompong,’ underscored that one of the grounds of the widespread landslides across the Cordillera Administrative Region is uncontrolled mining.
“We have a problem with the mining industry. It has not contributed anything substantial to the national economy,” the President emphasized.
“Well, one is, of course, the inroads of civilization and the fact that mining has been operating in this country uncontrolled,” he added.
The Chief Executive then reckoned his “sad experience” about mining during his mayorship in Davao, citing the Diwalwal mining case, which was quite similar to the mining camp incident in Itogon, Benguet.
“That mining thing has really contributed a lot of heartaches for the Filipino people,” President Duterte said.
“It is time for us particularly the DENR, General Cimatu, to take a second look…seriously now…regarding the dangers of the open-pit mining,” he added.
President Duterte continued by expounding how mining creates disturbances in nature. Through open-pit mining, drilling (and to some extent using explosives) destroys the environment’s natural cycle. When it rains, the water will be stagnant, and there will be no more vegetation because there are no rocks and trees to absorb the water. Therefore, the soil loosens, which can trigger landslides.
The President reiterated that while mining generates P70 billion income annually, the human damages that it can cause is seriously needed to be examined, noting that several mining companies dispense poisonous chemicals and residues from the activity.
“I grieve for my country. And ‘yung mga Cabinet ko pati the military and the police know my sentiment about this. Kasi naawa ako sa bayan ko,” he said.
“So what do you get? Is it really worth the P70 billion that you get? I know because I had so many arguments with the finance people kasi it’s a matter of correcting,” the President added with conviction.
Apart from illegal mining from small-scale ones, the bigger miners according to the President are the prominent violators of the law and always get away with it. That is why, he stated that it is time to repeal the law on mining.
“Itong mga minero, the rich ones, parang…their penchant to just violate the law. Because nobody was ever even arrested. You know even if there — the thing is a continuing or a continuous series of violations, they are not arrested. They are just exposed by [the] media, the enterprising ones. And the government would just call and investigate and after that, mawala,” he pointed out.
“If we cannot end mining because there’s a law — and to end mining, it is Congress…will have to abrogate the law,” he added.
President Duterte Condoles with Families of Landslide Victims in Benguet
Before the situation briefing, President Duterte met with the families of the landslide victims in Benguet at the Provincial Governors Office Conference Hall.
The President commiserated with the bereaved families of the landslide victims in Baguio City, Ucab, and Itogon.
“Ang Diyos lang talaga ang makasagot ng lahat ng tanong na ito. Even if I make an attempt to blame somebody, to blame the weather, or maybe to blame the negligence of others, it won’t really help anymore,” President Duterte said.
“Ang sikreto dito I think is just the acceptance, hindi ‘yung namatay, tapos na ‘yun eh. That we are born and we will die. Sa ayaw man natin at sa hindi… now, tomorrow, our appointment with… our earthly existence is handed by one creator,” the President added.
He then assured the families that aside from the assistance that the Department of Social Welfare and Development will provide them, he will also accommodate all the funeral expenses.
Furthermore, he assured all the families of those who are still missing that the government will continue its search and retrieval operations.
There were a total of 45 families present during the meeting with the President.
Accompanying the President during the visit to the families were Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, Secretary Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President, and Benguet Governor Crescensio Pacalso. (PND)