Jul 24, 2017

“I sternly warn all mining operations and contractors to refrain from the irresponsible destruction of our watersheds, forests, and aquatic resources,” President Rodrigo Duterte said during his second State of the Nation Address. “Reasonable and sustainable development is what we advocate and require,” he said. “The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect one way or the other. This policy is non-negotiable.”

Aside from rendering environmental policies non-negotiable, the President has also called out mining companies to be responsible for the cleanup and restoration of mining sites. “Either I will raise the taxes, ang mga kumikita diyan i-reserve ko to compensate for those who are suffering. You have to come up with a substitute. Either spend to restore the virginity of their source or I will tax you to death,” he sternly warned.

Although the President is more popular for his war against drugs, President Duterte has also been a supporter of various causes for the environment. So, we recall four times where he showed his pro-environment side.

When he supported Gina Lopez
Although Gina Lopez’s stint as Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is quite short, President Duterte strongly supported Lopez’s causes including the closure of mining companies. “I leave it up to Gina (Environment Secretary Lopez). If she says that the mines should be closed, then I can do nothing about it,” he said during a visit in Surigao City after the magnitude 6.7 earthquake in February. President Duterte also said that he wasn’t afraid to lose money because of his support for Lopez. “I’ll get the 70 billion from somewhere else and preserve the environment,” he said. However, the Commission on Appointments rejected Lopez’s appointment.

When he said we can survive without mining

In August last year, President Duterte told disobedient companies that he will shut them and the Philippines can live without them. “Either you follow strictly government standards or you close down,” he warned. “And then you will say mining is a critical component of the Philippine economy. Of course it is. It’s income. But you are also causing critical damage.” When he said the statement, President Duterte referred to landslides brought about by the holes mining companies made.

When he signed the Paris Agreement

At first, president Duterte said that he won’t sign the climate change pact. He called the pact “stupid” and a hindrance to growth. However, he changed his mind and signed the Paris Agreement. “After examining the text thereof, I find it advisable to accede to the Paris Agreement and seek the Senate’s concurrence thereto,” he said. According to reports, the President changed his mind after his Cabinet voted in favor of the agreement. As a nation vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the pact gives us access to the Green Climate Fund.

When he had a new mining law prepared
In July, President Duterte announced that there is a new mining legislation on the works. “We would come up with a new legislation, because Bebot Alvarez, the Speaker, hates mining. And he comes from a mining town,” Duterte said. Although Gina Lopez is no longer secretary of DENR, the President said that she will help in crafting the proposed law. “We have to go into—not even a compromise—we have to rearrange everything here. I will call all the mining people and Gina Lopez and company, and the militants on the other side, but only those who will behave in Malacañang,” he said.

Although the President has been vocal about his plans for nature, environmental advocates and groups are hoping that he would act on the policies he promised to do. Well, we hope that this will be a better year for the environment, too.

Header image courtesy of Inquirer.net

Read more:
LOOK: We simplified #SONA2017 for you
LOOK: Citizens react to President Duterte’s SONA
6 points Duterte made in the SONA worth noting down
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s staff threw garbage into Manila Bay for publicity’s sake

TAGS: environment Mining nolisoli nolisoliph President Rodrigo Duterte Sona State of the Nation Address