Philippine minister wants to work with Maoist rebels in mine rehab

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 20, 2017

Addressing Lopez's concern that her department's closure orders against mining companies "get stuck" in his office and do not seem to be reaching President Rodrigo Duterte, Medialdea said his office deals with all appeals "uniformly".

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is clashing with another member of the Cabinet after Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea counteracted her order for mining companies to put up a trust fund before they can remove and export ore stockpiles.

The plan of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez, who has ordered the closure of more than half of mines in the world's top nickel ore supplier, may be tough to carry out given the decades-long conflict between the New People's Army (NPA) rebels and the Philippine government that has killed more than 40,000 people. "But now that's Medialdea has placed the order, I can not do anything", she further said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had asked Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez to stop requiring suspended mining companies to have an additional trust fund of P2 million per hectare before they could be allowed to export their stockpiles. "I don't want to fight the mining industry, I just want to say that they should give money to the farmers", Lopez added.

Jose Maria Sison, the founder and leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines who lives in exile in Utrecht, welcomed Lopez' desire "to work with the NPA for peace and development".

"It is directly related to the environment, agrarian reform and rural development now being negotiated under the substantive item", he said in a Facebook post, inviting her to attend the next round of peace talks, brokered by Norway, in the Netherlands next month.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lopez criticized Medialdea for "counteracting" her order to require payment from mining companies. "I don't know", Dante Bravo, president of Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc, told Reuters.

The Philippine Army did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We have to amend the law.

Duterte has the final say whether these companies will remain closed and suspended or will be allowed to resume operations.

Lopez added that she has already texted Special Assistant to the President Bong Go regarding the issue but has yet to receive any response from Duterte.

"But I agree with Gina", Duterte said, calling the minister by her nickname.

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