PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 24, vehemently warned irresponsible mining companies that unless they stop the destruction of the environment, he will "tax them to death."
"I sternly warn – I’m warning all mining operations and contractors to refrain from the unbridled and irresponsible destruction of our watersheds, forests and aquatic resources," Duterte said in his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) delivered at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.
He said he would impose a “non-negotiable” policy against mining operators who would continue to destroy the environment.
“At this point in my administration, it’s possible that we shall put to a stop the extraction and exportation of our mineral resources for processing abroad and importing them back to the Philippines,” Duterte said.
"You (Mining companies) have the right to mine, but in doing so, you destroy the rivers, you destroy the streams from where the poor people fish," he said, adding that "in the extraction of these natural resources, care must be exercised that we do not recklessly harm the environment."
“Responsible and regulated, and sustainable development is what we advocate and require. The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect, one way or the other, and the policy is non-negotiable,” he said.
The President stressed that it is time for the mining companies to be responsible, as they have already “gained much” from mining.
"You have gained much from mining. You get about P70 billion a year, but you have considerably neglected the responsibility to protect and preserve (the environment)," Duterte said.
He said he is "holding all mining companies and officials responsible for the full and quick cleanup, restoration and rehabilitation of all areas damaged by mining activities."
"Either I will raise the taxes...ang kumikita niyan i-reserve ko to compensate those who are suffering and in agony. You have to come with a substitute. Either spend to restore the virginity of the resource or I will tax you to death," Duterte warned.
The President has revealed that Congress is preparing a new legislative measure that will improve the mining rules and regulations to address the mining woes in the country.
Duterte earlier vowed to address the impasse in the mining industry, once the administration is able to retake Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province, which is being occupied by Maute terrorists. (SunStar Philippines)