MANILA –The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has pledged full support for the government’s efforts to address pressing environmental issues, including the destructive impact of illegal mining.
According to a news release issued Monday, the department made the promise during the plenary session of the Community Consultation and Engagement for the Affected Mining Areas and Communities in Dinagat Island, Surigao del Sur and Norte held in Butuan City over the weekend that was led by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
The session discussed the output of the series of comprehensive consultation and engagement with communities affected by the mining audit, which the agency carried out in the Caraga region on February 20-24.
DSWD Undersecretary for Operations and Promotive Programs Malou Turalde-Jarabe, who represented the department during the event that was also attended by Cabinet officials and representatives of affected mining communities, stressed the importance of supporting all initiatives that directly and concretely protect the environment.
“True compassion involves consideration of the interest of the public. Let us support every initiative that protects the environment and advances the interest of the Filipino people,” she said
She said she had a chance to check the different mining areas in Surigao on board a Huey Helicopter of the Philippine Air Force.
She noted that from the helicopter, she saw the evidence of deforestation as a result of open-pit mining, which is permitted under the Mining Act of 1995. “A majority of mining operations are in watersheds,” she said.
Lopez has earlier said that mining operations at watersheds should be banned as they will result in the deterioration of natural water supplies and deforestation, which will lead to flash floods and landslides.
The environment department’s community consultation kicked off in Caraga, where a majority of mining operations that were ordered closed by the department are located. The consultation aimed to assist the communities and households affected by the mining audit, ensuring that they will be able to transition well from being mining workers to empowered social entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo expressed support for Lopez’s initiatives to end destructive mining operations in the country and to discipline mining corporations that violate provisions on environmental protection.
“We laud the efforts of Secretary Lopez to stand up against destructive mining practices. It is high time that concrete actions are made to stop the destruction of the country’s natural environment and the depletion of the country’s resources,” she said, calling on Filipinos to support Lopez’s actions to save the environment and preserve the country’s resources for future generations.
“What we need are genuine, pro-environment policies that will be stringently implemented. We must all stand firm and unite to stop operations that lead to the ravaged forests, leveled mountains, and poisoned rivers and lakes. Future generations of Filipinos will inherit a country with an all but destroyed natural environment if we do not take action now.