Marcos Jr. open to 'sustainable' mining, wary of open-pit mining

Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2022 11:03 PM

MANILA - Presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday he is open to allow "sustainable" mining to operate in the country, while he expressed wariness toward open-pit mining operations. 

In an interview with Boy Abunda, Marcos Jr. said mining a big source of revenue for the Philippine government. 

He added that sustainable mining could be done in the Philippines, and that it should take advantage of local resources like nickel and lithium. 

"Ang laki ng ating mga natural resources dito sa Pilipinas. Dapat siguro lalo na in these difficult times, we should take advantage of that," he said. "However, we have seen some of the disasters that have happened when it comes to mining, ay kailangan natin talagang iwasan yan." 

(We have a lot of natural resources in the Philippines. We should, especially in these difficult times, we should take advantage of that. However, we have seen some of the disasters that have happened when it comes to mining, we need to really avoid those.) 

"We have sufficient regulations and we have sufficient monitoring, but hindi nasusunod. That's always the problem; we have the laws but we are not able to implement them, we are not able to fully enforce them sometimes." 

(We have sufficient regulations and we have sufficient monitoring, but it doesn't get followed.) 

As for open-pit mining, Marcos said even if such mines are closed, harmful chemicals could leak out of the former sites. 

"When it comes to open-pit mining, I think I'm a bit wary about that," he said. "Because it is very difficult to control, and the pollution that's caused by open-pit mining, the leeching that occurs in open-pit mining, there are many occurrences where even after the mine has been closed, they have covered it up, they have planted trees, built houses on it, lumalabas ang lason." 

(When it comes to open-pit mining, I think I'm a bit wary about that. Because it is very difficult to control, and the pollution that's caused by open-pit mining, the leeching that occurs in open-pit mining, there are many occurrences where even the mine has been closed, they have covered it up, they have planted trees, built houses on it, then the poison comes out.) 

He added that keeping mines away from communities would minimize their impact. Marcos Jr. also called for improving the compensation received by mine workers. 

"I'm talking about the people who actually go into the tunnels, and many, marami tayong nagiging casualty jan. Kailangan natin balikan at tiyakin ang kanilang kalagayan." 

(We have many casualties there. We need to go back and ensure their status.)

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the nearly 9-year moratorium on new mining agreements, saying that the operations could support economic growth. 

In December 2021, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also lifted the 2017 nationwide ban on open-pit mining.

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