Philippine mine closer rejected

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine Congress rejected today the appointment of the country’s acting environment chief who ordered the closure and suspension of dozens of mines that she says harm the environment and local communities.

The rejection of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was recommended by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources headed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the boxing champion. Several senators supporting Lopez took the floor to express disappointment.

Lopez, a passionate environmentalist who has locked horns with the mining industry and other members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet, ordered the closure of 23 mines, suspension of five others and the cancellation of 75 mining contracts. Audit showed the mines harm watersheds and cause siltation in coastal waters and farms, she said.

“It is very sad, that in the Commission on Appointments, clearly, business interests have run the day,” Lopez, whose family owns the country’s largest television network, told reporters.