COMMENTARY: Gina Lopez in Facing the Mining Giants

Rodrigo Duterte, when drawn on the issue of Gina Lopez’s confirmation as DENR Secretary said the following:

  • He can forego the 70 Billion the Philippines could earn in taxes from the mining industry.
  • It has come to his knowledge that some honchos of the mining industry are funding destabilization plot against his government.
  • He warned that he would impose a moratorium on mining activities.
  • He is dead set on Gina Lopez’s confirmation as Secretary of the DENR.

Given these imprimaturs from the President, the most that the mining industry could get would be either get pissed off or take off their mining business somewhere. Unpalatable choice.  But at the end of the day, the mining industry must abide.

Which mining companies would not get pissed off when Gina Lopez would probably push her way that Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) should be stipulated and must be fully implemented throughout the duration of the mining activity?

CSR, by the way, is for the mining company to provide people affected by mining activity a safeguard for which the environment where they get their livelihood as much as possible remain undisturbed. Or, if not, they should put in place an alternative reducing the impact of mining to their livelihood, health, and welfare.

What if Gina Lopez makes it a point that the mining industry is efficiently regulated, strictly monitored, impose stiffer penalties for every violation of environmental rules, plug loopholes where corruption would likely occur, as for example, in the profit sharing for all the stakeholders?

These, of course, would entail cost: It curtailed the mining company’s profit.  But they must live with it if they want to remain in the game.

To think of it, the 70 billion would not affect that much of the country’s GDP. Ms. Cielo Magno, Ph. D, an assistant professor at the UP School of Economics in her article “Beyond Responsible Mining in the Philippines”  claims that it “only represents 0.65 percent of the GDP, its share little to the economy, and not a big job contributor.

With the 800 Billion worth of minerals that still could be mined, the 70 billion is just a drop in the bucket. It’s not a big loss if these old players in the mining industry leave. New players can come in that can be made adaptable to the new rule, which the country could rake benefits from — better than the old player.

The top honchos of the mining industry pooled their resources discrediting Gina Lopez. And at the same time, for fear of the likelihood of mining ban, these honchos, to secure their status quo in the industry, are probably giving funds to Duterte’s detractors for destabilization. Duterte has ears on these. So, the more he is convinced to impose a moratorium, if not totally banning the mining activity.

The mining bigwigs found their match in Gina Lopez. They both belong to the upper crust of society. What differentiates them is Gina Lopez’s unbridled passion for the protection of the environment, while the other is its degradation. It’s unfortunate for the mining bigwigs that they crossed path. If Gina Lopez is confirmed as DENR secretary, the mining bigwigs must mend their ways.