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Philippines: Govt. lifts moratorium on the grant of new mining permits; groups warn escalation of threats to environment & its defenders

"‘Complete turnaround’: Philippines’ Duterte lifts ban on new mining permits", 15 April 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an order to lift a nine-year moratorium on granting new mining permits in the Philippines. The order is expected to ease the entry of at least 291 existing mining applications, escalating threats to the environment and its defenders, anti-mining and environmental groups say.

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As the government anticipates a boon, anti-mining and human rights groups say lifting the moratorium on new mines will be anything but. They expressed dismay at Duterte’s executive order, which they say marks a complete pivot to a sector he condemned extensively in the early years of his presidency.

“President Duterte has completed his turnaround, from claiming to protect and stop the destruction of forests by destructive mining, to a pro-mining president,” Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a coalition of anti-mining groups, said in a message to Mongabay. “Lifting the moratorium exposes this administration’s support for mining projects that will impact our water, food supply, forest, biodiversity, Indigenous communities and fragile island ecosystems.”

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On the ground, various groups have warned that the executive order is poised to escalate threats to the environment and its defenders.

Mining was the deadliest sector for environmental and land defenders in the world in 2019, according to the watchdog Global Witness. That year, the Philippines topped the list of countries with the highest number of mining-linked deaths of environmental defenders.