If he is elected President, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will mellow down on his stand on mining.
Last year, the Davao City Council led by Duterte’s son, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, approved a City Ordinance declaring Davao City as “mining-free.”
The ordinance that banned any mining activity, is a follow through legislation of a resolution approved in 2011 by the legislative body as multinational companies applied for mining permits over large tracts of land in the city’s upland districts of Marilog and Paquibato that are said to be rich in gold deposits.
Duterte had then said that Davao City would only allow mining if technologies are available to fully protect people and the environment.
The Dutertes, including daughter former Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, are rabidly anti-mining for a reason: mining in the Davao and Caraga regions, Mindanao’s “Mineral Corridor,” particularly in Compostela Valley province, has a sad history of violence, social problems and environmental degradation.
Environmentalist hailed the passage of the ordinance but also sparked protest from the mining industry which threatened to sue the local government.
The Alliance of Responsible Miners (ARMOR) in the Davao Region, dsid then it will go to the Supreme Court to question the legality of the ordinance. The group said the ordinance violated the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which allows responsible mining.
Has Diterte changed his mind about mining?
In a speech before businessmen in Makati City on February 3, Duterte said he would support responsible mining if elected President.
But under the most severe of regulations.
“Mining, the best that I can see now is the Australian standard, just follow the Australian standard. Just take care of the environment,” he told members of the Wallace Business Forum.
The supposed lack of protection for mining investments and fierce opposition from environmentalists has discouraged mining companies from pursuing projects in the country.
Two years ago, Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), touted as the single biggest direct investment in the Philippines, abandoned its US$59B gold-and-copper project in Tampakan, South Cotabato, over strong opposition by environmentalist groups, communist rebels and South Cotabato provincial government which passed an ordinance that prohibited open-pit mining, the method that SMI would use.
Peter Wallace, chairman of the Wallace Business Forum, is happy about Duterte’s open-mindedness about mining.
“I was particularly pleased to hear that he’s supportive of mining if it’s responsibly done in the way it’s done in Australia rather than just not done at all as we’ve had now, and I think that was very good,” Wallace said in a report in Rappler.
The Philippines is abundant in mineral wealth, estimated to be worth US$840 billion. At the height of the country’s mining industry, it was responsible for 20% of export earnings and was a leading source of employment, Rappler reports.
The Wallace Business Forum was attended by around 100 businessmen from multinational corporations.
Other than his position on mining, Duterte also spelled out his programs on foreign investments, transportation, federal governance, security of government contracts and peace and order, among others.
Before Duterte, the Wallace Business Forum had as speakers Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, Grace Poe, and Vice President Jejomar Binay. ROGER M. BALANZA