MANILA(Updated)-- President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to review the decision of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to shut down the operations of the 23 mining companies in the country.

Duterte made the remark in a speech delivered at a dinner with Philippine Military Academy Class 1967 in Baguio City on Saturday night.

The President said the possible loss of profit from the mining companies is worth looking into.

“We get something like P70 billion a year out of the mining operations in the entire Philippines. So that’s what we have to also take into consideration,” Duterte said.

In his latest speech, the President admitted that the situation had become “chaotic,” a reason that prompted him to take a second look on Lopez’s decision.

“With Gina Lopez’s [decision], we’re dead now. It’s chaotic. But I will review. There’s such thing as the exhaustion of administrative remedies. I will not judge her,” he said.

“I will see. If it’s wrong, then, there’s nothing I can do, if it’s destructive to the environment,” he added.

"Baguio is having serious problem with your environment here. Pag ganon, wala akong magawa. But if… medyo, by then we correct it," he said.

Duterte, during his visit to Surigao City last February 12, had thrown full support behind Lopez and said that he would leave to her the fate of the erring mining companies.

“There is nothing that I can do if Gina [Lopez] closes down mining companies. There is nothing I can do,” the Chief Executive said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines balked on Lopez decision and on Wednesday, Feb. 15, wrote a letter to the Commission on Appointments formally opposing her appointment.

"We have repeatedly tried to work with the secretary-designate, however, it is clear that after 8 long months, the secretary-designate is unwilling to work with us. And as we have feared, her recent actions have been influenced by her prejudices," the statement read.

Read: Chamber of Mines oppose Lopez appointment

As Environment Secretary, Lopez pledged to crack down on illegal mining.

“I’m not against the mining industry but I am against suffering. It is not right that people make a lot of money with detriment of the community. It’s not right. It’s against the mining law. It’s against the Constitution,” she said.

Despite criticisms she earned for closing the 21 mining firms, Lopez also decided to cancel the 75 mining contracts located in watersheds.

It could be recalled that during the campaign period, Duterte strongly opposed illegal mining in the country.

In August last year, the President vehemently warned the mining companies to strictly adhere to the environment rules and regulations, or else, they would face closure. (SunStar Philippines)

***

Like and follow SunStar Philippines on Facebook.