Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday he would not stand in the way of his minister’s decision to close several mines in the southern Philippines after he saw the damage they had done to the environment.
Duterte flew by helicopter from Butuan to Surigao City on Sunday to inspect areas hit by Friday’s powerful earthquake that killed six and damaged public infrastructure.
Of the 23 mines ordered shut by environment minister Regina Lopez for good, seven are in nickel-rich Surigao del Norte and another seven in nearby Dinagat Island, nearly all of them producing nickel.
“I told the (Surigao del Norte) governor there is nothing that I can do if Gina closes down mining companies,” Duterte said in a speech there.
“There is nothing that I can do because when I passed by the area, I really saw…Surigao City is the most-mined city… They will never be able to restore nature to what it was before. So I really will shut them all down,” Duterte said.
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