Tag Archive | "Philippine"

Philippine Environment Minister Continues Mining Crackdown


NOVANEWS
  • Philippine Environment Secretary Regina Lopez during a press briefing in Manila, Philippines February 9, 2017.
    Philippine Environment Secretary Regina Lopez during a press briefing in Manila, Philippines February 9, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
Environment minister Lopez said it was within her discretion “to decide on the resources of the country.”

The Philippines’ environment minister stepped up a crackdown on mining on Tuesday, cancelling almost a third of the country’s contracts for undeveloped mines and rejecting any challenges to earlier orders to shut more than half of all operating pits.

The move turns up the heat in her battle with the mining sector after she ordered the closure of 23 of the country’s 41 mines earlier this month on environmental grounds, causing an outcry from the industry and threats of legal action.

The latest 75 contracts, which cover projects in the exploration stage or otherwise not yet in production, are all in watershed zones and would threaten water supply if they went ahead, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez said.

“You kill the watershed, you kill life,” Lopez told a media briefing.

A long-time environmentalist, Lopez ordered the closure of the 23 mines on Feb. 2 for damaging watersheds and for siltation of coastal waters and farmlands. Five more mines were suspended. The industry says the orders will affect 1.2 million people.

The contracts canceled on Tuesday, known as mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs), include the $1.2 billion copper-gold project of Philex Mining Corp, one of the country’s biggest miners, in southern Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he would not stand in the way of Lopez’s decision to shut several mines in southern Philippines, the second time he has thrown his support behind the minister he appointed last June.

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Philippines’ Duterte Ends Peace Talks with Maoist Rebels


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  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a late night news conference at the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 29, 2017.
    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a late night news conference at the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 29, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
The move ends 27 years of peace negotiations that sought to end an armed conflict that has killed about 30,000 people.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shut down peace talks with communist insurgents from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines after both the government and the rebels called off unilateral ceasefires aimed at ending a decades-long conflict.

RELATED: The Incomplete ‘People Power’ Revolution Boosted Duterte’s Rise

The move ends 27 years of peace negotiations that sought to end an armed conflict that has killed about 30,000 people since a popular insurgency in the Philippines began in the 1960s.

Duterte, who describes himself as a socialist, previously freed top communist leaders to continue with the peace process. However, he has now angrily condemned the insurgents for resuming hostilities, saying he is ready to fight them.

“I told the soldiers to prepare for a long war. I said (peace) will not come during our generation,” he said late Saturday.

The two sides signed an indefinite cease-fire in August, and the informal arrangement largely held as they continued discussions in Rome brokered by Norway, but he rebels announced an end to the ceasefire last week, accusing Duterte’s government of treachery and human rights abuses.

The president said he was now ordering government negotiators to “fold their tents and return home from overseas talks with the rebel leaders.

“I am not interested in talking to them. I will refuse to talk about it anymore … We have been fighting for 50 years. If you want to extend it for another 50 years, so be it, we will be happy to accommodate you,” he said.

RELATED: On Human Rights Day, Filipinos March Against President Duterte

In his characteristically aggressive tone, Duterte called the rebels “terrorists,” despite the fact that negotiations with the Maoist rebels was a cornerstone of his campaign.

During his first address to the nation he said he wanted a “permanent and lasting peace” with the guerrillas before the end of his six-year term, but his tone rapidly turned hostile after New People’s Army rebels killed six soldiers and kidnapped two others in fresh violence that enraged the president.

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Philippines’ Duterte Hints He May Impose Martial Law over Drugs


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  • President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, Philippines, Dec. 22, 2016.
    President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, Philippines, Dec. 22, 2016. | Photo: Reuters.
Last month, Duterte appeared to rule out any possibility he might declare martial law.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would impose martial law if the drug problem became “very virulent,” just a month after dismissing as “nonsense” any suggestion he might do so.

Duterte has made a brutal war on drugs a central pillar of his administration since he took office in the middle of last year.

Since July, more than 6,000 people have been killed in the anti-drug campaign, in both police operations and unexplained killings by suspected “vigilantes.” More than 1 million drug peddlers and users have been arrested or have surrendered to authorities.

Duterte, speaking in the southern city of Davao late Saturday, said he has sworn to protect the country against all threats, including drugs, which he said has affected about 4 million people.

“If I wanted to, and it will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law,” he said.

“No one can stop me,” he said, referring to the Supreme Court and Congress.

“My country transcends everything else, even the limitations.”

The Philippines endured a decade of martial law from the early 1970s under dictator Ferdinand Marcos — who Duterte offered a hero’s burial — and memories of campaigns to restore democracy and protect human rights are fresh in the minds of many people.

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