MAC/20: Mines and Communities

The People of Marinduque, Philippines, unite against mining

Published by MAC on 2003-12-08

Marinduqueños unite against mining

Kalikasan statement on Marcopper

December 8, 2003

The government suffered another blow in its mining liberalization campaign when the people, including several local government officials, of Marinduque united to ban all large-scale mining operation in the province.

Last December 6, over 800 people participated in a protest action in the municipality of Mogpog to commemorate of 10th year anniversary of the destruction of the Mogpog River caused by Marcopper's and Placer Dome's irresponsibility.

Leaders from different sectoral organizations, Church leaders and local government officials signed a covenant demanding justice for the mining victims and calling to ban mining operation in the province. Marinduque Governor Carmencita Reyes, Mogpog Mayor Jonathan Garcia, Boac Mayor Roberto Madla and several provincial board members were among those who signed the covenant. The anti-mining covenant is seen to facilitate the approval of a proposed provincial resolution declaring a 25-year moratorium on mining in Marinduque.

On December 6, 1993, the Maguila-guila Dam, built by Marcopper Mining Co. and Placer Dome Inc. (PDI) of Canada, collapsed, spilling four million metric tons of mine wastes and tailings into the Mogpog River. The tragedy not only caused the river's death but also destroyed the people's livelihood and the natural ecology of Mogpog town's 26 barangays.

In 1969, Marcopper-PDI started its large-scale mining operation in Marinduque province. Aside from the destruction of Mogpog River, the mining operations of Marcopper-PDI also caused the destruction of Calancan Bay in 1975 and Boac River in 1996 in the province.

The destruction and contamination of the local environment, displacement of the people and loss of livelihood due to almost 3-decades mining operation of Marcopper-PDI, convinced Marinduquenos that large-scale mining operation have only benefited the foreign transnational mining corporation PDI and corrupt government officials.

Worst, while Marcopper-PDI until now denies responsibility on the environmental crimes it has done, the government is even callously maneuvering to re-open mining in Marinduque.

In response, the Archdiocese of Marinduque headed by Bishop Joey Oliveros has declared their opposition in the re-opening of mining in Marinduque. The municipal governments of Boac and Mogpog have also passed resolutions banning mining in their respective municipalities.

In other parts of the country, several local government units (LGUs) have also declared their opposition to large-scale mining operation and mining TNCs. The provincial government of Capiz in August 1999 declared a 15-year moratorium on all large-scale mining; the provincial government of Mindoro Oriental in January 2002 has passed their resolution of 25-year mining moratorium; and last November, the provincial government of Eastern Samar passed a resolution on indefinite moratorium on mining.

This year the Arroyo government was forced to scrap the passing of its National Mineral Policy although it was classified as a priority of the administration. This is because of the consistent and strong opposition of anti-mining TNCs advocates, environmentalists and mining-affected communities.

This anti-mining position from different people institutions and LGUs does not sit well with the plan and program of the government to make the mining industry and mineral resources as a major niche to entice foreign investment in the country. The national government is finding it hard convincing communities to allow mining projects in their areas.

This shows the people distrust of the administration. They see the Arroyo administration as co-principal of mining TNCs in selling-out and plundering the country's mineral resources at the expense of the people and environment. The growing people's movements against mining TNCs and the defiance of LGUs to the mining policy and program of the national government prove this point.

Kalikasan-PNE congratulates people's organizations, church leaders and local government officials who have bravely come forward in lending their names to the people's struggles against the depradations of mining TNCs, like Marcopper-PDI. Their actions further bolster the legitimacy of the people's movements against mining TNCs.

Marinduque Local government officials against mining

Kalikasan-PNE News Release

December 9, 2003

GMA's pro-mining stance suffers another rebuke; LGUs supporting campaign vs. large-scale mining growing

After failing to get passage of its National Minerals Policy at the conclusion of the National Minerals Conference last week, the Arroyo administration suffered another rebuke when Marinduque's people, church leaders and government officials committed to oppose mining in their province for the next 25 years.

In a rally in Mogpog, Marinduque, attended by some 1,200 people last Saturday (Dec. 6), Marinduque Governor Carmencita Reyes and Boac Mayor Roberto Madla led other provincial and municipal government officials in affixing their signatures to a public declaration which committed to ban all mining activities in the province as well as to seek justice for the people affected by mining.

Although Reyes's action is not yet official, other government officials who also signed the covenant said that this would facilitate the approval of a pending provincial government resolution which calls for a 25-year moratorium on mining in the province.

Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) national coordinator, welcomed Marinduque government officials' move, saying this bolsters the legitimacy of the people's struggle against mining in the province. He also called the covenant a "people's victory" even as he warned the Arroyo government and the DENR against circumventing the covenant in favor of resuming mining activities in the province.

"While the action of the local government of Marinduque is laudable, it should now result in a more effective ban against mining and lead as well to a united move by the people of Marinduque to get the justice they deserve by making Placer Dome and Marcopper pay and be responsible for their environmental crimes against the people," said Bautista.

With Marinduque as a recent addition, there are now four provincial government units with similar policies against large-scale mining. These are Mindoro Oriental, Capiz, Eastern Samar and Marinduque. Church leaders in Koronadal, Cotabato, have likewise urged the adoption of a similar policy because of the adverse effects of mining on the environment and the indigenous B'laan tribes in the province.

Marinduque is one of the country's provinces severely affected by mining because of the mining activities of Marcopper, established since 1969 by former President Marcos and the Canadian mining firm Placer Dome. In 1996, the province became a major mining disaster when a Marcopper drainage tunnel was damaged and spilled up to 4 million tons of tailings in Marinduque's Boac river. Three years earlier, in Dec. 6, 1993, the Maguila-guila dam built by Marcopper in the municipality of Mogpog, also in the same province, broke lose and flooded Mogpog's downstream barangays with toxic tailings which has since killed three people and afflicted many others with diseases linked to mine wastes.

Unified Position Paper for the Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the 1993 Maguila-guila Dam Tragedy

Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns
(MACEC Mogpog Chapter)

Mogpog, Marinduque, Philippines

December 6, 2003

1. The Story

Exactly ten (10) years ago and almost three (3) years before the much publicized Boac River mine spill even happened, Mogpog had first experienced it all - flashflood of mine waste wrecking havoc to 26 villages/barangays, killing peoples and animals, causing destruction to properties, significantly affecting agriculture, business and hampering almost every economic activities, rendering most people homeless, sick and living in fear. The cause of it all? Marcopper's Maguila-guila Dam collapsed, releasing tons and tons of mine waste into the river and various parts of the municipality.

Marcopper/Placer Dome's response to the tragedy? " It is not our fault! It was caused by unfortuitous event!!! We are not liable but we will give you donations because we are "good company".

II. The Disappointment and Deceit

It was so unfortunate for Mogpog:

III. Our Position and Call

As we celebrate the 10th year Commemoration of the 1993 Maguila-guila Dam tragedy, with greater unity and with stronger force and renewed inspiration emanating from the Almighty God, we reiterate our calls and demands:

1. Urgent rehabilitation of Mogpog River and all areas affected by mining operation in the province.

2. Implementation of Health and Compensation Components/Program for all affected individuals without delaying tactics like "quit claims ".

3. Justice! To the victims of the 1993 Maguila-guila Dam tragedy.

4. No to large scale mining in the province
No to additional, more and new mine waste posing lifetime risk to the environment and its people.

To our Leaders:

Be sincere…make a stand
…think of what is good to your people before even pleasing the IMF-WB with your Mining Act and New National Mineral Policy
…think of what is good for the environment before pleasing the investors and funders of your political campaigns.
…think of what is pleasing to God over and above what will ensure your next re-election.

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