Families of Itogon landslide victims receive cash, assistance from Duterte

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(Photo: SAP Bong Go)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17) — President Rodrigo Duterte met with families of the victims of the landslide in Itogon, Benguet.

Special Assistant to the President Bong Go shared photos of the meeting which happened Monday.

Go said families received P45,000 each – P25,000 in cash and P25,000 worth of goods and funeral and burial assistance.

At least 35 people died in a landslide in Itogon Saturday during the height of Typhoon Ompong.

President Rodrigo Duterte also attended a press briefing in Benguet where he highlighted the dangers of mining once again.

Duterte said, "Mining has been operating in this country uncontrolled."

He went on to say the mining industry had a lot of problems, even if the country does earn P70 billion a year from it.

"If you're ready to accept that as a good, as a profit, let us make it simple for the country, but in the end, how much do you lose in the process?" Duterte said.

"That mining thing has contributed a lot of heartaches for Filipinos. It is time for us, particularly the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), General Cimatu, to take a second look at the dangers of open-pit mining," he said.

The President also called out "rich" miners who violate the law, but have yet to be made accountable for their actions.

"Itong mga minero, the rich ones, parang their penchant to just violate the law. Because nobody was ever even  arrested. The thing is a... continuous series of violations, they're not arrested. They're just exposed by media -- the enterprising ones -- and they government would just call and investigate, and after that mawala [it goes away]," he said.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the catastrophic landslide was a "wake-up call," which is why he ordered the stoppage of all small-scale mining in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

Duterte also relayed his experience while he was still chairperson of the Southern Mindanao regional peace and order council.

"I could not even give you the exact number of people who were killed fighter over the tunnels that they built," he said.

If it were up to him, he said, he would close all mining operations in the country, never mind the financial benefits.

"We have to give Mother Earth a respite from the endless digging," he said.