In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte maintained his strong position on mining in the country.
In the speech, delivered on 23 July 2018, Duterte declared that Philippines was a country poised to “soar and take its place among the world’s economic and financial eagles”. According to Duterte, part of this forward and upward trajectory were Philippines the nation’s natural resources – a “wealth to be tapped for the benefit of all generations”.
“My policy in the utilisation of these resources is non-negotiable: the protection of the environment must be top priority and extracted resources must be used for the benefit of the Filipino people, not just a select few. Do not just give me taxes. I can get it from other sources. Give me what needs to be given to my countrymen,” said Duterte.
In a direct statement to the mining industry, Duterte commanded that the country’s environment not be destroyed nor the resources compromised, urging the mining companies to repair what they have “mismanaged” as they were facing further restrictive and radical policies and reforms, such as the prohibition of open pit mining.
“It is destroying my country,” said Duterte. “It is destroying the environment. It will destroy the world of tomorrow for our children.
“Again, I warn irresponsible miners, along with their patrons, to stop destroying our watersheds, recharge areas, forests, and aquatic resources. You can no longer fish in our rivers. It’s all contaminated.
I expect you to do your part in ensuring our nation’s sustainable development, starting now.”
Duterte signalled that by the end of July 2018, all five packages of the proposed tax reform would be submitted to Congress. Apart from TRAIN, rice tariffication, and Package 2, they include the mining, alcohol, and tobacco tax increase, reform in property valuation, reform in capital income and financial taxes, and an amnesty program.