Press Release
December 30, 2021

De Lima bewails lifting of ban on open-pit mining

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima bewailed the lifting of the four-year ban on open-pit mining in the country, a move that shows total disregard for the environment and the welfare of the people.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, urged the government to reinstate the ban on open-pit mining, which could be a breeding ground for greedy capitalists.

"How desperate is Duterte right now that he caved in to mining lobbyists to undo an almost term-long policy against open-pit mining?" she asked in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1195 issued today.

"Open-pit mining presents a slippery slope where greedy capitalists are given the opportunity to ruthlessly exploit our natural resources and present our regulators and public officials extremely tempting moral hazards," she added.

Based on media reports, Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), signed Department Administrative Order No. 2021-40 on Dec. 23, lifting the four-year-old ban on the open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver, and complex ores.

Enforced in 2017, the ban was reportedly one of the high-impact measures taken by the late Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who was known for her green advocacies.

De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, maintained that open-pit mining will bring more harm than good to the entire populace.

"Maaaring malaking pera ang kikitain ng ating bansa sa mining. Pero lalong malaking delubyo ang ating kakaharapin pag papayagan natin ang industriya na sisira sa ating kalikasan," she said.

She cited several adverse effects on the lifting of ban on pit-mining, such as environmental destruction, and worsening of the plight of Typhoon "Odette" victims, among others.

"Malinaw ang epekto ng open-pit mining sa ating kalikasan at pamayanan: Kinakalbo nito ang kagubatan; Pinapatag ang mga bundok; Sinisira at dinudumihan ang ating mga watershed; Inuubos ang mga bukirin at taniman; at pinaaalis ang mga katutubo sa kanilang mga tirahan," she said.

"Kakatapos lamang ng pananalasa ng bagyong Odette sa ating bansa na sumira sa ari-arian at kabuhayan ng napakarami nating kababayan at kumitil ng maraming buhay. At alam nating marami pa ang darating.

"Kapag sinira natin ang mga kagubatan at kabundukan na natural nating depensa sa mga bagyo at baha, lalong malala pa ang magiging epekto sa atin ng mga bagyo," she added.

Ultimately, De Lima stressed that the government should prioritize the welfare of the people which is far more important than money.

"The welfare of our people must always be paramount. No amount of money can pay for a truly sustainable development that would meet our present needs without compromising those of our future generations," she said.

It may be recalled that De Lima, during her stint as Justice Secretary, created a task force led by the National Bureau of Investigation to lead a crackdown on several illegal black sand mining operators in Cagayan and Ilocos Sur. The move led to the filing of charges against several individuals.

De Lima also filed proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1075 seeking to prohibit black sand mining operations in the country which continue to wreak environmental havoc while placing people's health and livelihood at great peril.

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