Pro-environment groups described the Philippine government’s decision to lift the nationwide ban on open-pit mining as an “act of cowardice and betrayal” to the people.
The country’s environment department on December 23 released an administrative order repealing an order banning the open-pit mining method issued by late and former environment secretary Regina Paz Lopez in 2017.
Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina said the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining “is a short-sighted and misplaced development priority of the government,” at a time when the country is suffering devastating typhoons due to climate change.
“Once again, the Duterte regime puts more premium on its flawed economic agenda categorizing destructive mining as an “essential industry” as part of the pandemic recovery,” he said.
Contrary to the 2017 administrative order, the new order said the open-pit mining method “is a globally-accepted method of mining, considered to be the most feasible option for mining near-surface or shallow ore deposits.”
The new order aimed to “revitalize the mining industry and usher in significant economic benefits to the country by providing raw materials for the construction and development of other industries.”
It added that lifting the ban on open-pit mining will help the economy by “increasing employment opportunities in rural areas where there are mining activities thereby stimulating countryside development.”
“There are best-practice control strategies and technologies that can help avoid or manage the negative impacts of open-pit mining,” it said.
Leon Dulce of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment blamed the mining industry for the devastation in the central and southern regions of the country brought about by super typhoon Odette (international name: Rai.)
He also said that the “promise that this move will bring in money for economic recovery is nothing but misinformation,” adding that “only 12 percent of mineral resources plundered in the Philippines by big mines trickle back to our economy as taxes, fees, and royalties.”
Dulce accused the Duterte administration of favoring mining companies while allowing many Filipinos to “suffer and die amidst disasters fueled by mining and climate change.”
Rodne Galicha of Living Laudato Si Philippines said the country can no longer afford innocent lives to be sacrificed for the sake of the business interests of people in the government and corporations that are fueling the climate crisis.
He urged the public to use the 2022 national elections as a platform to mainstream urgent environmental concerns as election-related issues.
“Enough is enough. Let us choose the right leader that will not serve the interest of the few but who will champion the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth,” he said.