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Duterte on mining firms: I am fighting a monster

President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the Ateneo de Davao University with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and university president Joel Tabora for the State of Mindanao Environment Day. PCO/Released

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 7:26 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at the oligarchs who exploit the country's natural resources particularly, those in the mining and fisheries industry.

"I am fighting a monster. Believe me, I will destroy their clutches on our nation," he said at an environment summit at Ateneo de Davao University.

Duterte vowed anew to  go after mining firms which continue to practice environmentally destructive open-pit methods and corporations which are granted mining permits through money, influence and sheer greed. 

The president scored the reckless grant of permits solely on the basis that a mining firm can afford it.

Foregoing a prepared speech, Duterte pressed for a stop to destructive mining practices simply because the land has already taken a beating.

"What I am sure of, I am a worker of government. Mining is a sunset industry and also logging. It is already too late. If there were 24 hours in a day, logging is on its 25th hour. We cannot cut trees anymore," he said.

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Proud of the fact that during the elections, the former Davao City mayor refused to accept campaign contributions from individuals who had vested interests, the president feels he owes no favor to anyone and he serves not one but everyone.

"The oligarchs are resisting because it wil destroy the power vortex. I do not owe anyone. Many would like to maintain the status quo. I will destroy this little by little. I will open the country's resources to all Filipinos regardless of tribe, race or religion. We have only one nation," he said.

He also said there should be a limit to mining operations even when they are within bounds of the law.

Duterte, defending anew policies of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, said mining eventually destroys the environment and should observe tighter regulations.

"We are still starting, but we will go after mining na hindi sumusunod sa standard," Duterte said.

Duterte said Australia and Canada have the best mining practices in the world, and should be emulated by firms in the Philippines.

Lopez, meanwhile, has so far suspended six mining permits over violations of standards. Duterte backed Lopez on her decision to revoke the licenses, saying Mindanao is a fragile state.

"If you cannot follow that standard, sorry. Maski na legal, we can only hold so much, iilang butas kung lagyan mo lahat, it will be a wobbling island," Duterte said. — with Camille Diola

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