March 27, 2017, 8:33 pm
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Shooting from the hip

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has lumped his political enemies together and charged that they were financing destabilization efforts to oust his government. This motley group of alleged financiers, interestingly, come from both legitimate business and illicit ones according to Duterte: mining companies, political critics in America, online gaming operators, big time drug syndicates, and other scoundrels.

This is a serious matter, coming as it is from the President.

The first question that comes to mind -- is there really a destabilization plot? If there is none, then the list of financiers has no reason for being.

If any serious group is planning the downfall of the Duterte administration, then the President has reason to lay the blame on the sectors that he mentioned, but it should be only after a thorough and discreet investigation by the intelligence community that apprises the President on security matters every day.

Publicly hurling charges, especially one as fantastic and important as destabilization, is like shooting from the hip if not backed by validated facts.

But Duterte is known for issuing instructions and condemnations before the true facts are known. Remember how he ordered the law enforcement agencies to arrest the owner of a cigarette factory allegedly caught cheating the government by using fake BIR stamps? The NBI could allow interview the guy but not arrest him because there were no charges made, and consequently no arrest warrant issued.

Duterte through his environment secretary, Gina Lopez ordered the closure of several mining companies and the revocation of mining agreements, but these high-handed orders failed to stop mining operations because the miners have appealed the
government to reconsider.

Now, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) has raised a valid point: the government might have to face a $16-billion international arbitration case should stakeholders decide to sue the government for the cancellation of mining contracts.

The money will cover compensation and damages for the mines ordered closed.

It is well for the mining sector to reassure Duterte that they are not a part of any destabilization moves against him, and ensure that mining is done under the highest standards using the best technology available.

What they are saying is that mining and environmental protection can co-exist in a symbiotic relationship as contemplated by the mining law of the Philippines. The law has recognized mining as a legitimate player in national and international economies and the modern world cannot make do without it.

Anti-mining advocates and illegal and irresponsible miners who give a bad name to this industry are the ones that should toe the line, by stopping all the misinformation and other practices that tend to prod Duterte to shoot from the hip.
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