MANILA- Presidential aspirant Senator Ping Lacson does not see a problem in the government’s recent decision to lift its ban on open-pit mining, but called for responsible mining and proper enforcement of environmental laws in cases of violation.
Lacson, in an interview with Boy Abunda, said he is also okay with the granting of new mining permits.
“Tama lang na ni-lift ang ban kasi matagal na ring… kung mayroong new permits na ii-issue," Lacson said.
(It is correct that the ban was lifted because it has been so long, if there are new permits that could be issued.)
"Basta sa akin ang bottom line is kailangan responsible mining at kung mayroong violations, along the way, along the way, kailangang ipatupad (ang batas),” the lawmaker added, citing problems in corruption and lack of enforcement of the law despite violations.
(For me it should be responsible mining and if there are violations that we need to address along the way, (the law) should be enforced.)
Lacson added that any decision in government should be driven by data and science, saying mining operations should be closed if permits are violated following due process.
“Dapat ipasara agad. Of course, due process should be followed. Ang problema ang naging kalakaran sa ating pamahalaan, sa ating bansa, parang iyong palakasan system. Kung sino ang may koneksyon, kung sino ang malakas maglagay,” he said.
(It should be shut down immediately. The problem with our government is the patronage system where people who have connections, who can give money, [are put first].)
He also noted the importance of non-government organizations and environmentalists as watchdogs, who could also provide pieces of evidence on violations.
Asked though if he would accept political donations from miners, Lacson said he would: “Yes, kung legal naman ang mining company at may permit at lahat sumusunod, why not?”
(If it is legal and they have a permit, why not.)
He however said he does not accept all donations, including those that involve conflicts of interest. He cited as an example those that have pending legislative franchise applications.
The open-pit mining ban was imposed in 2017 by then Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who cited its destructive nature and potential for a disaster.
The Philippines is the second biggest supplier of nickel ore to top buyer China, after Indonesia, where it is used to produce stainless steel.
— report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News