By Arjay L. Balinbin

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to revoke the licenses and permits of mining companies that supply explosives to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. said Mr. Duterte gave his directive to the DENR at the executive committee meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) held at the Malacañan Palace on Monday, March 19.

“The President directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to revoke the licenses and permits of mining companies violating explosive handling rules or reported to be supplying explosives to communist terrorist groups,” the spokesman told reporters in a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday, March 20.

Mr. Roque likewise announced that the military and police who are also found violating laws on explosives will face automatic expulsion.

Another directive that Mr. Duterte issued was the creation of a task force for Mindanao IP convergence, which is intended “to address the plight of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Mindanao.”

“Also at yesterday’s meeting, security measures against threats of violence by terrorists particularly at ports and terminals and efforts to secure and develop the Philippine Rise were discussed,” the spokesman added.

The meeting, according to Mr. Roque, ended at around 3 a.m.

The President was joined by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr.

Also on Tuesday, at the 121st founding anniversary of the Philippine Army (PA) held at the Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Mr. Duterte lauded the military for their contribution in maintaining peace and order, especially in the rehabilitation of Marawi City in Mindanao.

He announced too the release of P500 million in medical assistance and P50 million for the V. Luna General Hospital. Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero joined the Commander-in-Chief on the stage.

The President, before reading his prepared speech, apologized for being late.

“Natapos po kami, Ma’am (Ms. Robredo), ng 3, ang pinag usapan namin ikaw,” the President told the Vice President in jest. (We ended at 3 a.m., ma’am. We talked about you.)