Environmental activists said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte “failed” to address issues related to the environment since he came to power in 2016.
The activists gave the president a “failing grade” ahead of his State of the Nation Address on July 27.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, said Duterte “failed to deliver his environmental commitments” made during the campaign.
“Worst, he continues enabling further ecological destruction with policies that only serve the interest of mining corporations and big environmental plunderers,” said Garganera.
He criticized the Duterte administration for allowing mining operations in various regions to continue despite the new coronavirus pandemic.
The anti-mining activist also denounced the reversal of the closure and suspension orders against several mining companies that were issued by the late Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier announced that the government will allow some of the closed or suspended mining companies to reopen.
After reviewing the mining companies’ appeal against the order, Cimatu said there were recommendations made for the companies.
“They complied and applied corrective measures,” he said.
Franciscan priest Angel Cortez, head of the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement, accused the Duterte administration of having “no clear policy agenda and concrete actions” for the environment.
“Instead of heeding the cry of the poor, the government put the lives of the most vulnerable at risk by allowing destructive extraction and dirty energy projects,” the priest said.
Father Cortez, executive secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, lambasted the reported reinstatement of a environment compliance certificate of a huge mining project in Mindanao.
In a Manila Bulletin report on July 13, Wifredo Moncano of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau confirmed that the Office of the President has restored the ECC of the US$5.9-billion Tampakan mining project, which could become one of the largest copper mines in the world.
The Tampakan project is one of the largest mining operations that was put on hold after the local government banned open-pit mining following oppositions from various church and civic organizations.
In February, the Diocese of Marbel revived the Tampakan Forum, a movement against the large-scale mining operation that would affect five dioceses and provinces in Mindanao.
Father Cortez said the Tampakan mines, if allowed to operate, “will not just destroy the environment, it will also displace thousands of people in and out of the affected areas.”
At least 32 percent of agricultural lands and 75 percent of forested areas in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, and Davao del Sur will be affected.
Last year, the Department of Environment warded the proponents of the mining project a 12-year extension of the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement, which expired on March 22, 2020.
“It is not too late,” said Father Cortez.
“The Duterte administration can still withdraw the extension and start serving the interest of the poor and the environment.”