MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo said she would declare no-mining areas if she succeeds President Rodrigo Duterte in the May elections.
"I am not for an absolute ban sa mining. Pero (but) I am for more responsible mining," Robredo said in a virtual dialogue on Sunday with female lawyers who back her presidential run.
Robredo said if she won the presidency, she would certify as urgent the proposed National Land Use Act, which would identify no-mining zones.
But since its passage could take some time, she said, "I will issue an EO (executive order)... declaring no mining areas."
The presidential aspirant said she would also champion "honest to goodness consultations in a way na people are really given the opportunity to know what will happen to their communities."
"Usually ‘yung mga consultations magpapatawag, may io-offer na short change naman masyado ‘yung community tatanggappin naman ng community ‘yun na ‘yung consultation. Para sa akin... walang magreresume na mining operations 'pag hindi pa natin ito naaayos, 'pag hindi pa naayos ‘yung ano ‘yung no mining zones," Robredo said.
(Usually, consultations will be called and something will be offered that shortchanges the community. The community will accept that the consultation is limited to that. For me, no mining operations will resume if we don't fix this, if we don't fix the no-mining zones.)
"We will put up mechanisms para ‘yong (the) indigenous peoples who will be affected, ‘yong local communities who will be affected, the mechanisms should provide that... their voices should be heard," she added.
ROBREDO SAYS TO SCRAP DUTERTE EO
If she wins the presidency, Robredo added that she would scrap an executive order by Duterte which lifted a nearly 9-year moratorium on new mining agreements.
Duterte's late predecessor Benigno Aquino III in 2012 suspended applications for mineral contracts in protected areas, prime agricultural lands, tourism development areas, and other critical places like island ecosystems, among others.
In Executive Order 130, Duterte in April 2021 allowed new mineral agreements, saying revenues could support government's infrastructure drive and create jobs in the provinces.
"If I will be given the privilege of serving this country, ‘yun yung isa sa mga aalisin ko," Robredo said of the order, adding it was "not yet time for the passage of this EO."
(That is one of the things I will remove.)
She noted the late former environment secretary Gina Lopez had tried to streamline many policies to give way to a more responsible mining industry.
"Hindi pa natin naaayos ‘yung mga batas in place para siguruhin na it is the- the local community or the local economy which will benefit," Robredo said.
(We have yet to fix the laws that are in place to ensure that it is the local community or the local economy which will benefit.)
Agencies with overlapping functions, including the environment department, mines bureau and Climate Change Commission, should also be streamlined, she argued.
"Before saying na we will allow mining or we'll not allow mining, [what we'll do] is to put in place all these mechanisms and to pass the necessary legislation," Robredo said.
Mining remains a controversial issue in the country due to past examples of environmental mismanagement, and only 3 percent of 9 million hectares identified by the state as having high mineral reserves is mined.
Duterte has repeatedly criticized miners for polluting rivers and destroying forests.
But a government panel in 2018 said 23 out of 27 mines have passed an initial review for compliance with state regulations.
The Philippines is the second biggest supplier of nickel ore to top buyer China, after Indonesia, where it is used to produce stainless steel.
— With a report from Reuters
FROM THE ARCHIVES