Duterte urged to keep environment promises

Duterte urged to keep environment promises
Fishermen on a small boat drives past the small island of Manicani in Guiuan, Eastern Samar where many residents are opposing plans to resume the nickel mining operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp. ALREN JEROME BERONIO

MANILA— A leading environmental campaigner criticized plans to restore open-pit mining in the country, and warned the government against scaling back on commitments to tackle environment abuses.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the bishops’ justice and peace commission urged President Rodrigo Duterte to take his campaign promises “seriously” particularly in protecting the country’s remaining environment.

“He should seriously fulfill his campaign agenda to be pro-poor and curtail the power and influence of the oligarchs. He should bring his passion in war on drugs to war to save our environment,” he said.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the ban on open-pit mining could be lifted before the year ends after the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council reversed the order.

In April, former environment chief Gina Lopez imposed the ban to rehabilitate various sites from severe mining of gold, silver, copper, and bronze.

But Cimatu assured that the agency will regulate and closely monitor all mining operations in the country.

Gariguez said DENR’s decision is a “backward step” in the Duterte administration’s promise to protect the environment from destructive mining.

“It’s the triumph of mining interests over the affected communities and the threatened environment,” he said. “It’s business as usual for mining corporations.”

In several occasions, Duterte has openly stated his opposition against open-pit mining ban and said that it must come to stop.

With the recent development, however, Gariguez claimed that the Duterte government “remains beholden to corporate power and interest”.

“We mourn for our country,” he said. CBCPNews