MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Marinduque Local government officials against mining

Published by MAC on 2003-12-09

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.

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