Duterte backs Lopez on her position on mining
President Rodrigo Duterte supports Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s tough stand on cleaning up mining even the Commission on Appointments is set to decide if she will be confirmed next week.
“Look at her passion… Landslides, water that are contaminated,” said Duterte in a speech inaugurating a government TV hub in the Cordilleras in Baguio City Saturday. “The problem is I saw (the mountain) is denuded and you can see how deep are the diggings because it is open pit.”
“If that is the case, I would rather follow Gina,” added Duterte. Even if mining is contributing P70 billion to the government, he said:”I’ll get the 70 (billion) from somewhere else and preserve the environment.”
Lopez faced hordes of opposition during her two-day confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments. Lawmakers are set to decide if she will be confirmed on Tuesday but Lopez said she will be out of the country, which could mean she will be bypassed.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told government radio earlier it is possible Gina could be reappointed if she is bypassed by the Commission on Appointments.
“We are not saying that but a (reappointment) is possible,” said Abella said in his weekly radio interview over state-run dzRB.
The oppositors hurled issues ranging from competence, legal haste in issuing 23 closure orders and five suspensions against mining firms to job losses once these orders are final.
Lopez said some of these mines are operating near watershed areas, which will affect sources of drinking water for residents.
Estimates by the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), which is under the Department of Finance show closure and suspension orders will cost 17 affected cities and municipalities in 10 provinces over P821 million annually in foregone revenues.
Abella said Duterte respects Lopez’s position. He also said the government is mindful of the position of the lawmakers and the critics.
“So there are varied opinions and it has to be weighed. But as far as I know, as far as we can see, we can tell, the president seems to appreciate the concern of Ms. Lopez regarding the environment and…natural resources,” said Abella. DMS