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Environmental push against mines spurs turmoil in Philippines

Controversial policies trigger blowback from industry groups, finance chief

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A mine in Zambales sits idle after operations there were halted.   © Reuters

A harsh environmental crackdown on Philippine mines has not only put pressure on companies and workers in one of the country's most important industries, but also sown seeds of discord within the government itself.

At the center of the controversy has been Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. The Commission on Appointments, a body tasked with confirming cabinet appointees, decided March 9 to defer its decision on Lopez. This came on the heels of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay being forced to step down after the commission rejected his appointment for misrepresenting his U.S. citizenship. The focus has now turned to Lopez, who faces growing criticism over her policies. The commission is expected to reopen hearings in May.

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