MAC: Mines and Communities

Marinduqueños 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.

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