MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will not allow erring mining firms to continue destroying the environment and displacing farmers and fishers. He said irresponsible companies must pay for their misdeeds.
“This cannot go on. Kung gusto n’yo, kayong mga mayaman bayaran n’yo sila sa perwisyo nila [If you want, you rich people should pay them for all the disturbances you’ve caused these people],” the chief executive told mining firms on Wednesday, July 12, in a speech at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City during the 26th anniversary of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Duterte vowed to address problems caused by indiscriminate mining activities after putting an end to the crisis in Marawi.
The President also said he saw how destructive mining was to fishponds and farms, citing ABS-CBN’s Failon Ngayon episode that tackled the ill effects of extracting ores and minerals in food-producing areas.
“Nakita ko talaga na destructive talaga [I saw that it was really destructive]…And I do not even see…a single tree planted. And the devastation doon sa palayan, wala na. Hindi na sila makatanim. Mga fish pond nila it’s all poisoned [The devastation made rice farms unproductive. They could no longer plant. Their fishponds became all poisoned],” he said.
Duterte reiterated that the mining industry had only contributed P70 billion worth of taxes to the government, which was not worth the damage it caused to the livelihood of communities.
“We have 70 billion and that’s it. Ang nagutom, ang nasiraan ng mga fishpond, ang palayan wala namang tubo [Those who went hungry, those whose fishponds and farms were destroyed didn’t profit from it] ” he said.
Duterte also said that one day, he would call mining stakeholders — the rich and the poor Filipinos — for a face-off and would ask the rich how the poor would survive if they keep on ruining the poor’s sources of livelihood through their mining operations.
“So one of these days, tawagin ko ang mga mayaman at ‘yong mga mahirap…Anong tingin mo? Sirain mo ang palayan? Paano sila magsusurvive? [I will call the rich and the poor…What do you think? You will destroy the farms? How will they survive]?”