By Rosemarie A. Zamora
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday, Nov. 21 has rejected the recommendation to lift the ban on open-pit mining.
“Ayaw ko because it is destroying the soil, the environment at walang corrective measures kaagad (I don’t like it because it is destroying the soil, the environment, and there are no immediate corrective measures),” he said during a media interview in Taguig City.
On Monday, Nov. 20, Presidential spokesperson Harry L. Roque Jr., said that the ban on open-pit mining still remains even after the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) recommended to reverse the policy last October.
“Alam mo kasi, maski wala na ‘yang study (You know, even without the MICC study) you go to places where there is an open pit mining and you can see the destruction of the soil, the environment,” Mr. Duterte said.
“Okay yan it’s good profit maybe pero magtingin ako sa bayan ko na wala naman akong nakikitang trees na sumusunod. Pilipino kasi ako nasasaktan ako sa bayan ko kapag ginaganun mo (Fine, it may be good profit, but when I see my homeland and I see no trees… I am a Filipino and I feel hurt when for you do that to my homeland). I mean it’s profit for you and for the NPA’s (New People’s Army) too,” he added.
In a separate speech, Mr. Duterte warned to shut down mining companies who financially support the NPA.
Mr. Duterte claimed that all mining companies are paying taxes to the NPAs.
“All mining companies are paying taxes to the NPA. Without exemption ‘yan. At hindi magta-thrive ‘yung mining nila kung hindi nagbibigay ng pera (All mining companies are paying taxes to the NPA. It is without exemption. And their mining operations will not thrive if they do not give money),” he said.
‘Yung mga legal fronts nila are in cahoots with the armed NPAs. Sila nga yung taga kolekta dito ng taxation dito e. Ang koleksyon nila sa taxation hindi sa bukid maghingi ng pera, dito yan sa mga bangko, hulog lang nila sa mga accounts NPA yan. Yan ang extortion nila, big companies (Their legal fronts are in cahoots with the armed NPAs. They are the ones who collected money. The collection of taxes was not done in farms but it was being transferred to the bank accounts of the NPAs),” he added.
Mr. Duterte earlier said that he will no longer resume talks with the communists rebels in light of the latter’s continued attacks against government forces.
Last weekend, Mr. Duterte said that he will issue a proclamation tagging NPA as terrorists.
“We have to decide once and for all. If I go against the NPAs, everybody has to reconfigure their relationship with the NPAs. Because if you continue to support financially, I will close you down. In the interest of the security of the state, all those funding the NPA dito (here),” he said.
As early as 2011, there are reports that mining companies in Mindanao region continue to pay a so-called “revolutionary taxes” or extortion money to communist rebels amid fears of harassment.
Tagging NPAs as terrorists, Mr. Duterte said he will also have them arrested even if he will not declare a revolutionary government.