PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the revocation of licenses and permits of mining firms that are found to be "supplying explosives" to communist insurgents, Malacañang announced Tuesday, March 20.

Duterte gave the directive during his meeting with the Executive Committee of the National Security Council held at Malacañan Palace on Monday, March 19.

"The President directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to revoke the licenses, permits of mining companies violating explosive handling rules or reported to be supplying explosives to communist-terrorist groups," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said.

Roque said soldiers and policemen who are also found violating laws in explosives will face automatic expulsion.

In November 2017, Duterte hinted that some mining companies finance the activities of the communists' armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).

The President had threatened to terminate the operations of mining firms, if they do not cut ties with the NPA guerillas.

"All mining companies are paying taxes to the NPA. That's without exception. And their mining (operations) will not thrive, if they do not give money to them (communsits)," Duterte said in a speech in Taguig City in November last year.

"We have to decide once and for all. If I go against the NPAs, the communists, well, everybody has to reconfigure your relationship with the NPAs. Because if you continue to support [them] financially, I will close you down. In the interest of the security of the state, all those funding the NPA here, we will trace everything," he added.

Meanwhile, the President also ordered the creation of task force that will address the plight of the indigenous people of Mindanao.

This developed even after Duterte had been heavily criticized, following his threat in July 2017 to bomb Lumad schools that are "operating illegally."

His pronouncement on February 5 to open Lumad lands to investors had also earned a backlash from indigenous peoples. Malacañang, however, earlier clarified that Duterte merely wanted investors to put up businesses in Lumad lands to spur economic activities in the ancestral domains. (SunStar Philippines)