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Rody warns mining companies on damage to environment

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte on Wednesday warned mining companies anew on the damage they cause to the environment and communities.

Duterte ordered mining firms to plant trees in areas affected by their operations, saying he would not allow businesses to take away the livelihood of the poor.

 “The devastation in the rice fields, they are gone, they can no longer plant rice. Their fishponds, it’s all poisoned,” the President said in a speech at Camp Aguinaldo.

“You destroy their farm, how can they survive?  Taxes? We get about P70 billion a year and that’s it,” he added.

Duterte said the mining companies should compensate the poor for the devastation caused by their business.

 “Kung gusto ninyo, kayong mga mayaman, bayaran ninyo sila sa perdition nila (If you want, you pay for their perdition). So if he has lost 100,000 hectares, after all mining firms are rich, pay them. Then you plant trees,” the President said.

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 Duterte also issued a warning to mining firms that fail to plant trees in devastated areas.

 “Pag hindi ‘yan taniman ng kahoy, ‘yang ulo ninyo ang putulin ko ilagay ko sa — ‘yan ang itanim ko doon (If you do not plant trees, I will cut your heads and plant them there),” he said.

 Duterte vowed to address the issues in the mining sector after the Marawi crisis has been resolved.

 “There are so many injustices here that we have to correct. But just give me time,” he said.

“I will institute the reforms after all my troubles. I have to solve the mining impasse… I’m warning the rich. Kasi ‘yung kay (Ted) Failon plus ‘yung kay Gina (Lopez), nakita ko talaga na destructive talaga (I have seen how destructive it is.”

Duterte was referring to the ABS-CBN documentary hosted by Ted Failon that tackled the impact of mining on rural communities. The documentary, which featured the views of mining critics and environment officials, aired last Sunday.

 During her brief stint as environment secretary, Lopez ordered the closure and suspension of several mining companies for allegedly violating environmental laws.     

The Commission on Appointments rejected her appointment following claims that she is biased against large-scale mining. 

‘Miners for environment protection’

Mining firms maintained that they were following environmental laws after the President issued a fresh warning to the industry.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said the industry has been cooperating with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in terms of environmental regulations, especially on the safety and welfare of its host communities.

“We do not condone wrongdoing within the industry. Erring mines must be prosecuted and made accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Ronald Recidoro, COMP vice president for legal and policy, said.   – With Louise Maureen Simeon

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