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Palace: Duterte committed to protecting environment

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the crowd during a news conference prior to boarding his flight for a three-day official visit to Japan at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Duterte lashed out anew at the United States following Monday's interview with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel who said that Duterte's controversial remarks and a "real climate of uncertainty" about the government's intentions have sparked consternation in the U.S. and other governments and in the corporate world. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

President Duterte is committed to sustaining his environmental protection policies even at the risk of a further economic slowdown, a Palace official said.

Although the government was saddened that its missed its growth target for the second quarter, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President offers no apologies for giving “higher priority” to the protection of the country’s environment.

“If Gross Domestic Product) will further fall because of the desire of the President to protect the environment, so be it. We’re investing on the future and not just the present,” Roque said.

The Philippine economy slowed down to six percent in the second quarter, from 6.8 percent in the first three months of the year. The slowdown has reportedly been attributed to the President’s policies on temporary closure of Boracay Island and regulations on the mining industry.

Roque explained that the President does not approach policies purely on economic and financial basis. “The President, of course, will exercise the powers of the State, known as police powers, to protect the environment. He has given further priority, higher priority to the protection environment. He makes no apologies for it,” he said.

Roque added that the closure of Boracay was “justified” to allow rehabilitation works on the polluted island. He assured the public that Boracay will reopen this October.

Roque admitted that the Palace was “saddened” by the government’s failure to meet its growth targets but remained confident the economy would bounce back. “We’ll do everything to meet them. If we don’t, we’ll find out why and we’ll try to achieve further targets for the rest of the year,” he said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)

Roque said that the six percent growth rate was still “very high.”

“I don’t think it is alarming because six percent is still high. People do not forget that we may not have met the target but six percent is very high so putting things on perspective,” he said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)

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Written by Rafael Bandayrel

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