DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte gave a stern warning to mining companies that they will have to take responsibility to rehabilitate mining areas they destroyed or he will put an end to mining.

During his second State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 24, Duterte veered away from his written speech to explain more about his plan to run after mining companies.

“I’m warning all mining operations and contractors to refrain from unbridled destruction of water resources I am warning all mining operations and contractors to refrain from the unbridled and irresponsible destruction of our watersheds, forests, and aquatic resources,” Duterte said.

Duterte said: “You have to come up with a substitute, either spend to restore the virginity of their source or I will tax you to death.”

He said the taxes he will get will fund the rehabilitation of the communities.

“So I will increase the taxes. Then I will think of something that will compensate or make up for the damage or at least the income restored. Otherwise, I’ll have to stop mining. I will ask you to stop it. It’s not good,” he said.

He said mining companies have gained much, but neglected their responsibility to protect and preserve the environment.

He said he gives mining companies permit because they have complied with the requirements set by the law. However, Duterte stressed that mining companies have destroyed the natural resources.

“I am holding all mining companies and its officials responsible for the full and quick clean-up, restoration [and] rehabilitation of all areas damaged by mining activities, and the extension of all necessary support to the communities that have suffered mining’s disastrous effects on their health, livelihood, and environment, among others,” he said.

Duterte went on saying the future generations should be considered by the mining industry.

Duterte also appealed to legislators to immediately pass the National Land Use Act or NALUA “to ensure the rational and sustainable use of our land and our physical resources, given the competing needs of food security, housing, businesses and environmental conservation.”

“Ours is a rich country. Wealth that this country is endowed with [is] a gift from God to be utilized for the [people’s] welfare and the common good. I do not believe that this gift was given to us to be merely viewed or appreciated, but to be extracted from the earth and utilized to make life worth living,” he said.

Davao-based environmental group Interfaith Development Interventions said they support the plan to pass NLUA.

Chinkie Peliño-Golle, executive director of IDIS told Davao Today that NLUA will help rationalize and manage resources with integration with disaster risk reduction management and action on climate change.

Golle also said they hope the mining communities will be rehabilitated and restores “and for the communities to be extended with support and assistance.”

Meanwhile, Clemente Bautista, national coordinator for Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment, said Duterte issued positive statements and good promises about the environment.

However, Bautista said this is not the first time that Duterte made such promises.

“These are the same promises he said in his first SONA. Actions speak louder than words,” he said.

Bautista said the President must first implement the mining order issued by former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez in closing or suspending erring mining companies.

“If not, his statements and warning to mining companies are just air and empty promises,” he said. (davaotoday.com)

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