- Duterte has admitted Lopez’s order to close mining firms created a mess
- He vowed to review Lopez’s recent controversial decision which affected 75 mining companies in the country
- The president said the P70-B income from the industry must also be taken into consideration
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to review the order of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez to close several mining firms in the country.
In a speech before the alumni of Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) “Dimasupil” Class of ’67 on Friday, Duterte admitted the government is now facing problems because of Lopez’s decision to cancel the mining contracts of 37 companies in Mindanao, 27 in Visayas and another 11 in Luzon.
“On Gina Lopez, we’re having a problem right now. [The situation] has messed up already,” Manila Standard has quoted Duterte as saying.
While admitting that there is a serious environmental problem that needs to be addressed, the president said one must also consider the benefits on the mining industry.
However, Duterte said he is not going to judge Lopez for her staunch campaign against these mining firms allegedly violating environmental laws. He also urged the mining companies to find other legal remedies to solve the stand-off with DENR.
“There’s such a thing as exhaustion, for the lawyers, exhaustion of administrative remedies,” Duterte said.
“I will not judge her now but I will review her decision. If it’s wrong, then I can’t do anything, if it’s destructive to the environment,” the president added.
According to Duterte, the country is earning around P70 billion a year from the mining operations of these companies, and this has to be taken into consideration.
Lopez’s orders to close several mining firms in the country since her assumption as DENR chief has earned praises among environmental groups.
However, it also drew flak from affected companies, especially from workers and employees who will stand to lose their main source of income and livelihood.