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BBM, Ping back mining

The two presidential candidates, however, criticized the supposed weaknesses in the regulation of the mining sector that have allowed abuses to flourish

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Presidential aspirants have expressed willingness to allow “responsible” and “sustainable” mining operations in the Philippines, but cited the need for safeguards to protect affected communities.

Senator Panfilo Lacson and former senator Bongbong Marcos Jr., during their separate interviews with television host Boy Abunda this week, acknowledged that the extraction of minerals has been a “valuable” source of revenue for the government.

For Ping, the next Philippine leader should take a cue from President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration on lifting bans against open-pit mining and new mining deals.

“You cannot kill the mining industry because it is a major industry in the country,” he said during the interview which was posted on YouTube on Monday.

Bongbong echoed Ping’s sentiment, saying the Philippines should take advantage of local resources like nickel and lithium.

“We have a lot of natural resources in the Philippines. We should, especially in these difficult times, take advantage of that,” he said in his interview aired Tuesday.

The two Palace hopefuls, however, criticized the supposed weaknesses in the regulation of the mining sector that have allowed abuses to flourish.

Ping lambasted the patronage or “palakasan system” wherein state officials purportedly turn a blind eye to mining firms’ violations. He also hit the small-scale mining companies for violating Philippine laws.

BBM, for his part, said he was wary of open-pit operations, noting that harmful chemicals could leak out of the former mining sites.

“When it comes to open-pit mining, I think I’m a bit wary about that,” he said. “It is very difficult to control.”

The strongest opposition on mining operations was articulated by another presidential candidate, Vice President Leni Robredo.

Leni said if she wins in the 9 May elections, she will scrap the Duterte administration’s order allowing new mining agreements.

“I will revoke it,” she said, referring to Executive Order 130 signed by Duterte in April 2021 which lifts the government’s nine-year-old moratorium on granting new mining permits.

“For me, it is important that when it comes to the environment, we should empower those who will be affected,” she said in her interview aired Wednesday.

Both Ping and BBM said that the government should enforce Philippine laws to avoid abuses on mining operations.

Tapping environmental groups to monitor the implementation of regulations can help solve the problem, said Ping, who previously served as police chief before becoming a senator.

Bongbong, meanwhile, said that mining operations should be far from communities to minimize their impact. He added that the compensation received by mine workers should be improved.

Environmental groups like Alyansa Tigil Mina have slammed the aspirants’ push for mining operations, saying that “responsible mining” neither has legal definition nor policies or parameters to measure.

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