President Rodrigo Duterte has lashed out at mining companies for trying to discredit Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. Lopez, a staunch anti-mining advocate, has suspended a number of mining companies for allegedly violating environmental laws since she assumed office. “She is not an incompetent, she is a bright lady. And she is simply a crusader,” President Duterte said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday. “Gina Lopez has my full support. So stop this nonsense of discrediting her because I won’t believe you a bit,” the president said. Duterte warned mining companies to strictly follow government standards or face closure, adding that the country could survive even without them. “You obey or we will survive as a nation without you. You try to castigate Gina Lopez for being strict and yet you destroy the land, destroy the soil. Tapos yayaman kayo diyan,” he said. “Forty (40) billion, I can forego with the 40 billion I collect from you guys and the Filipinos will survive without you. Either you follow strictly government standards or you close [down],” he added.
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