DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez accused the mining industry of being indifferent to the suffering and helplessness of the impoverished by running an oppressive economy.
Lopez made the allegation as she vows to do everything to recover the lost good values that President Rodrigo Duterte aims to revitalize by upholding the common good and concern.
“Ito ang paninindigan ko, and this is what I really believe…we cannot and we must not build an economy based on suffering. We cannot do it,” said Lopez explaining that mining investors may be making money based on the suffering of the people.
“At the end of the day, who is benefitting from this? Not the poor, so why do we keep doing it?”
A staunch anti-mining advocate before being chosen by President Duterte to head the DENR, Lopez expressed her intention to keep the country’s rich natural resources in a way that benefits everyone.
“I would like to keep our biodiversity and not let it be raped by any selfish interest because it belongs to the Filipino people,” she said.
Included in the sectors that pose various threats to the environment is the cement manufacturing industry.
Mining for limestone imposes great environmental impacts thus the government must maintain continuous monitoring and controlling of process operation to meet the requirements set by the governing agencies like the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the cement industry is the third largest industrial source of pollution in the world. Emitting more than 500,000 tons per year of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide, the pollution caused by the cement industry are associated with health and environmental impacts such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment and lung diseases.
Meanwhile, advocacy group Kilusan Kontra Katiwalian at Kabulukan (4K) asked Duterte government to dismantle the cement industry cartel which controls a huge chunk of the cement industry.
“The DTI should asked local cement producers to explain the recent surge in retail prices of cement in the country and the Cement Manufacturers of the Philippines (CeMAP) should explain why there are shortages of their product in some key areas,” said 4K Secretary General Rodel Pineda.
“With the artificial shortage of cement, the government can’t control the retail prices of cement and CeMAP is the first beneficiary in this situation.”
Pineda also questioned the merger of Holcim Philippines Inc. and Lafarge Republic Inc. which now reportedly controls 75 percent of cement industry.
“How come the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) let this merger? Our local cement industry is now controlled by foreigners under CeMAP and they are making a killing in cement prices because they dictate the retail prices,” Pineda explained.