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Green groups tag lifting of ban on open-pit mining as ‘act of cowardice and betrayal’

The Environment department released an order on December 23 repealing the ban issued in 2017

Pro-environment groups said the Philippine government’s decision to lift the ban on open-pit mining in the country is an “act of cowardice and betrayal.”

On December 23, the Environment department released an order repealing the ban issued by the late former environment secretary Regina Paz Lopez in 2017.

“Once again, the [Presiden Rodrigo] Duterte regime puts more premium on its flawed economic agenda categorizing destructive mining as an ‘essential industry,'” said Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina.




He said the lifting of the ban “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.

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 will help the economy by “increasing employment opportunities in rural areas where there are mining activities thereby stimulating countryside development.”

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“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 said the “promise that [lifting the mining ban] will bring in money for economic recovery is nothing but disinformation.”

Dulce said only 12 percent of mineral resources “plundered in the Philippines” by big mines “trickle back to our economy as taxes, fees, and royalties.

He 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 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.

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