MANILA (UPDATED) - Former environment secretary Gina Lopez said Wednesday she would do "whatever it takes" to keep a ban she imposed against open-pit mining, adding a Cabinet oversight body's recommendation to lift it was "wrong."
Lopez said she had faith in President Rodrigo Duterte, who "follows the pulse of the people" on the mining issue.
affected communities have not fully recovered, including Marinduque island, where mine waste leaked into rivers in the mid 1990s.
"I will do whatever it takes so that the ban is not lifted. Once the ban is lifted and you put explosives, we’re dead meat man," Lopez told ANC's Headstart.
"We have a history of suffering. Why will we allow for any more new pits when we haven’t even proven we can do it?" she said.
Open-pit mining puts the safety of host communities at risk, Lopez said, adding government is required by the Constitution to ensure mining "should not adversely affect present and future generations
anything open pit mining."
"It's not only immoral, its unconstitutional. There’s nowhere in the mining law which says you should do open pit," she said.
The Chamber of Mines meanwhile said that open pit mining is legal and can be done safely.
"With the current mining act there are sufficient funds and environmental safeguards to ensure that any open pit mine that is allowed to operate will have sufficient funds to rehabilitate, to return the area to a suitable land use," said Ronald Recidoro, president of the Chamber.
Recidoro told ANC's Top Story that miners will try to convince President Duterte to allow open pit mines to reopen.
In September, Duterte said he agreed with Lopez that open pit mines should be banned because of the damage they do to the environment.