by Leslie Ann Aquino
The social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is fully supporting the policy direction of President Duterte on mining so much that it thinks he should head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) himself.
In his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), Duterte held mining companies responsible for the destruction of the environment and communities in which they mine and warned them to repair the damage they have caused or face tough consequences.
The President said he would “tax them to death” if only to collect enough revenues for government to undertake the clean up, restoration and rehabilitation of all areas damaged by mining activities.
“Our office together with affected mining communities fully support this policy direction. But to implement that the President should fire the DENR secretary whose recent decisions clearly favor mining companies,” said Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace.
However, Gariguez said he doubts if the Chief Executive would be successful in implementing his plan, citing the head of the DENR as reason for this.
He said Duterte should appoint someone who has the guts to go against mining companies.
“We need a replacement who has the guts to go against the powerful lobby of mining companies, somebody who cannot be bought,” Gariguez said.
Better yet, he said Duterte should head the DENR himself.
“Duterte himself should head DENR. Nobody is more capable,” said Gariguez adding that the President should get Gina Lopez as his consultant or senior staff at the said agency.
In the past, the priest pushed for the re-appointment of Lopez, who was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.