MANILA (Mabuhay) — To prevent future mining disasters in the Philippines, an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups on Sunday urged the Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to order closure of several mining operations in the county found violating environmental laws.
Barely nine days before the observance of Earth Day, slated every April 22, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) also urged the DENR and the MGB to punish mining firms that have committed human rights abuses.
“We have to stem the tide of mining disasters such as the Marcopper toxic mine tragedy in Marinduque in 1996, and Philex’s Padcal mine spill in 2012. The government should immediately shut down those mining companies who [were] found culpable of violations of environmental laws,” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, in a statement.
Garganera also cited the recently-issued environment protection cases against two Chinese mining companies Liaoning Fenghua Group Philippines Mining Company Inc. and Bohai Top International Mining Corp. for operating without the necessary mineral processing permits in Camarines Norte province.
The ATM insisted that a performance review of all existing mining operations must be done pursuant to EO79.
“The performance review can be the basis for the indictment of erring mining companies. This has been the basis of the environmental protection cases filed against the two Chinese mining companies,” Garganera said.
ATM’s statement also quoted Garganera as saying: “Mining in the country has taken severe toll on access to water, health, and the development of agricultural activity and brought about drastic change in the environment.”
“With climate change already upon us, mining disasters are most likely to happen with a flawed mining law and inadequate regulatory environment. Geo-hazard areas should be declared ‘no-go zones’ to mining. This should be immediately acted upon by MGB,” he added.
An earlier report on Philippine Star news site said MGB Region V ordered Bohai Top International Mining Corp. to dismantle its mineral processing plant in the village of Napaod in Labo town on Feb. 10, adding that authorities seized several heavy equipment and apprehended several Chinese nationals.
On April 22, various environmental groups, including ATM will participate in the celebration of Earth Day by holding public actions in different parts of the country.
As of June 2013, the MGB adjudication board has recorded dozens of pending cases.(MNS)