MANILA–President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday accused some mining firms of funding the opposition in their plot to destabilize his administration.
Though he did not specify what mining firms were involved, the President said that said firms are active in the destabilization move.
“Kayong mga mining, I know that you are funding the opposite side. Alam ko na nagyon kung sino gumagasto sa kanila,” Duterte said during a joint press briefing with Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in Malacañang.
“I know that some of you are funding the other side to destabilize me [my administration]. If the police and the military will allow it, that’s their problem,” the President added.
Duterte also lambasted several mining firms for destroying the environment in their areas of operation.
Showing photos of the effects of their destructive mining practices, the President dropped the names of Berong Nickel Corp., CitiNickel Mines and Development Corporation, OceanaGold, Benguet Nickel Mines, Emir Minerals Corp., Adnama, CTP Construction and Mining Corporation, Claver Mineral Development Corporation, Carrascal Nickel Corporation, and Marcventures Development among others.
The said firms were on the list of 28 mining firms that were earlier ordered closed or suspended by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
“Look at what mining does to our country. Is Gina (Lopez) a liar? No! How can you argue with Gina when she’s confronting you with a visual case?” Duterte said.
The President said that while mining contributes around PHP70 billion annually in taxes, the mining firms have a lot of explaining to do to the Filipino people.
“Where are the trees that God gave us? Where’s the environment that God gave us? All of these for PHP70 billion.. It’s all destruction,” he said.
“So kami dito, it appalls us na kung mag lobby-lobby lang kayo ng mining dyan o maggastos kayo; gusto n’yo ako palitan na president na pinapanood nyo,” he said.
Duterte said he will call the mining firms in Malacañang for a no holds-barred talks.
“Kayong mga miners mag-usap tayo. Tayo lang o kasama mga media. Explain well to me kung bakit ganito. Explain to us, to the lawmakers, such degradation of the (environment),” he said.
“We are in charge of the government. Hindi yung kayong mga pretentious dyan na ‘we will work for the benefit of the people.’ What can your PHP70 billion do with the government? Nothing! You think you can live with it? Because of the PHP70-B or nag contribute sa campaign funds mo?” the President said.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he is mulling a total mining ban for the meantime until the mining firms can satisfactorily explain their sides.
“Maybe it would be worth the while of Gina (Lopez) to re-impose the ban. Total muna tayo tapos mag-usap tayo dito. Mag-prangkahan tayo. Explain to me what have you done to my country.. bakit ganito,” Duterte said.
The President likewise said that the government could live with the consequences of closing or suspending irresponsible mining operations in the country.
“Economy? Siguro wala pa tayo maibigay na trabaho sa mga tao pero maghintay kayo. We have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to look for the money but I’m going to give you food,” he said.
“Just pray that enough new business would come in but not as devastating as these ones,” Duterte said.