MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he would rather support Environment Secretary Gina Lopez in her crusade to pursue greener industries in place of mining, saying the government can survive without the industry’s tax contributions.
“All you contribute to the country is about P70 billion in taxes,” he said during the inauguration of the Cordillera hub of state media PTV4.
“We can live without it. I would rather follow Gina . . . Get the P70 billion somewhere else, preserve the environment. Huwag na tayo magbolohan.”
Duterte backed Lopez anew following criticism over her hardline stance against irresponsible mining. He called on Lopez’s detractors to rethink their impression of her and consider her “passion” to protect the environment.
“Kaya if you have something in mind against Gina Lopez. Kindly rethink. Think of her passion,” he said.
Duterte also took a swipe at mining companies who fail to plant trees in areas they damage.
“Sa mga nagmimina . . . p****g i*a ninyo ano ginagawa ninyo? Tapos wala pa ako nakikita na green. Gusto ko after mo iwan dito lagyan mo ng kahoy ito,” he said.
Lopez on Thursday said she was seeking a “way forward” with miners, as she maintained her stand against irresponsible mining.
Lopez said she wants to work with mining companies on “area development” using their social development and management program funds.
“I’m willing to work with mining companies that don’t adversely affect human life,” she said.
Lopez is yet to be confirmed by lawmakers for her ad interim appointment as environment secretary.
The Commission on Appointments is scheduled to reconvene in an executive session on Tuesday to decide the fate of Lopez.