Updated 15:27 PM PHT Tue, March 14, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — An exasperated President Rodrigo Duterte lamented on Monday over the damage caused by irresponsible mining to the country's natural resources as he broached the idea of halting all mining activities until a solution was reached.
Duterte, speaking to reporters at Malacañang, held up pictures showing how mining destroyed bodies of water in parts of the country.
"Explain to me... and you explain well to me (what happened here). Explain to us, to the lawmakers such degradation," said the President, who was seated between Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Bebot Alvarez.
"Kami ang nasa gobyerno ngayon tapos i-charge mo sa akin ang ganito sa aking panahon ay anak ng... [We are the ones running the government now, and you do this under my watch, son of a... ]"
Duterte said the ₱70B in revenues that the mining industry brought in was meaningless if the result was such deterioration.
"Look at the water. So where's the fish, where's the marine life? Ano kakainin ng mga tao, yung mga mahihirap lang dito [What would the poor people here eat]? So what can your ₱70B do for the government? Nothing."
The President, however, said he was willing to sit down with mining firms, either for a closed-door meeting or with the media present.
"Maybe it would be worth the while of Gina (Lopez) to reimpose the ban. Total (mining ban) muna tayo, tapos mag-usap. Dito, magprangka-prangkahan tayo [Total ban in the meantime then let's lay our cards down]."
Duterte also added that he was aware the some mining companies were out against him.
"I know that some of you are giving funding to the other side to destabilize me."
The President also repeated that he was standing by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who had recently closed down 23 mining sites and cancelled 75 mining contracts.