MAC: Mines and Communities

Filipino farmers fear mine wastes will kill rice fields (2 Aug 04

Published by MAC on 2004-08-02

Farmers fear mine wastes will kill Negros rice fields

2nd August 2004

By Romulo Amarado, Philippine Daily Inquirer

More than a hundred farmers in Ayungon town in Negros Oriental province are up in arms against a mining company, which they blamed for jeopardizing their livelihood.

A total of 108 farmers in Barangay Banban, Ayungon, filed a complaint before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources against Looc Lead Ores Inc. (LLOI), reportedly an American investor.

They asked the DENR to conduct an investigation, as 30 to 40 hectares of their riceland were covered with residues and other mining wastes that were left on the mountainsides in the areas mined by LLOI.

The farmers said the affected area was "gradually increasing, depriving any vegetation [from growing] on the covered areas and portions of the irrigation canal have been destroyed."

"If this [goes] on unsolved it is estimated that about 500 hectares will be covered by the mining wastes," the complainants led by Rogelio Luang warned.

The complaint said Dugan started his silica mining activity in Banban in 2001. The village is considered one of the biggest rice-producing barangays in Negros Oriental.

Moises Philip Siangco, LLOI vice president for operations, maintained that the complaint was "driven and tainted with sinister ulterior motives," which was to have a leverage against the move of the company to develop its property.

He claimed that many of the farmers, who signed the complaint, were squatting on the company's 17-hectare titled property, which the LLOI planned to develop as a buffer zone.

He, however, said the company would form a team to look into the complaint of farmers who were not among those squatting on the company property.

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