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DENR eyes mining, river dredging to spur economic recovery amid COVID-19

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is planning to launch mining and river dredging as part of the Philippines' economic recovery response amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its officials on Wednesday.

In a virtual press conference held in celebration of the department's 33rd anniversary, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said DENR chief Roy Cimatu intends to introduce responsible mining as one of the initiatives to resuscitate the country's economy.

"Ang gusto niyang mangyari for this year talaga is i-treat 'yung mining as something which is really helpful to the economy rather than destructive to the environment and natural resources," Antiporda said.

"Bakit? Kasi mas magiging mahigpit po tayo when it comes to policies noong pag-implement nila ng kanilang mining activities," he added.

In November 2019, there were more than 100 active mining projects in the Philippines, of which 48 are metallic mines and 63 are dedicated to non-metallic mine operations, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Among the mineral-rich areas in the country are Zambales, Palawan, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Benguet, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Davao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Cebu, and Zamboanga del Norte.

Cimatu also encouraged stakeholders to dredge rivers to complement the administration's flagship program "Build, Build, Build."

"Kailangan din kasi ang mga materials doon for local, dito sa 'Build, Build, Build' natin nahihirapan na rin 'yung mga ano diyan sa Visayas and Mindanao, so we encourage them to dredge their rivers and at this hard time makabigay naman ng hanapbuhay sa mga tao doon," Cimatu said.

Meanwhile, some residents of Aparri expressed apprehensions over the dredging operations in Cagayan River in August 2019 as they surmised that the activity was behind the submersion of their farmlands.

Aside from mining and dredging, Cimatu said the DENR plans to use its national greening program to provide livelihood to communities while they are being mobilized to plant.

The DENR's operations against illegal logging and wildlife trade are also uninterrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Antiporda.—AOL, GMA News