[Press Release] More Marcopper mine tragedy, Philex’s mine disaster due to flawed mining law -ATM

More Marcopper mine tragedy, Philex’s mine disaster due to flawed mining law

From left to right, Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Beth Manggol, Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC) and Gerry Arances, Coordinator, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) during a press conference held this afternoon in Quezon City. Photo by ATM

From left to right, Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Beth Manggol, Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC) and Gerry Arances, Coordinator, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) during a press conference held this afternoon in Quezon City. Photo by ATM

After nearly two decades, the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 7942) has failed to deliver on its promise of economic gains and jobs to communities where large-scale mining firms are operating. The flawed Mining Act of 1995 has so far resulted in disasters that render the revenue share it has allocated for government ridiculous.

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In a bid to stop the mining disasters from happening, several environment, human rights and Church groups led by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) have set March 10-14, 2014 –dubbed “Mining Hell Week” –as a time of reckoning of the tragedies and the irreversible damage mining activities have continuously inflicted on communities since the enactment of Mining Act of 1995.

ATM, a coalition of more than one hundred organizations, said the past mining disasters were tragedies waiting to happen due to fatal flaws of the mining law.

In a statement, the ATM said “nineteen years is more than enough time to see that the law has not been working for the national interest, so much so that a number of key questions that have cropped up need to be resolved immediately and decisively by the government to avoid the repeat of past disasters that have inflicted irreversible environmental damage, caused deaths and community impoverishment but even to those who will be born in the future.”

Brandished by government as “attempt to revitalize the mining industry,” RA 7942 only proved to be a recipe for disasters, highlighted by the Marcopper toxic mine tragedy in Marinduque in 1996, the Philex’s Padcal mine spill in August 2012, and Kingking mines landslide in Compostela Valley in 2012 and many others.

According to ATM, the Mining Act of 1995 allows for 100% ownership of minerals by foreign entities through the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), permits for more open areas to mining than mining-free zones—exploitation over protection and conservation, and sanctions many tax holidays and deductions that leave us with mere cents of income from our own mineral resources, among others.

Situation of Mogpog river now in Marinduque, it is one of the few tributaries that originates from the Mogpog town's main watershed area. Mogpog has long suffered from recurring floods due to siltation caused by the collapse of Marcopper Mining Corporation's Maguilaguila siltation dam in 1993. There, the colors of the water range from peach to brown to gruesome red and toxic green or violet ending up in Tablas Strait.

Situation of Mogpog river now in Marinduque, it is one of the few tributaries that originates from the Mogpog town’s main watershed area. Mogpog has long suffered from recurring floods due to siltation caused by the collapse of Marcopper Mining Corporation’s Maguilaguila siltation dam in 1993. There, the colors of the water range from peach to brown to gruesome red and toxic green or violet ending up in Tablas Strait.

“Since the 1990s, the presence of large-scale mining in the provinces of Marinduque, Benguet, Compostela Valley, and Nueva Vizcaya have led to acute changes in the environment and the community,” Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator said.

Mining in the country has taken severe tolls on “access to water, health, and the development of agricultural activity” and brought about drastic “change in the environment,” Garganera said.

Moreover, he said: “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.”

On the other hand, he said that even if the government manages to get the bigger share in the mining sector’s declared profits, the revenue would be nothing compared to the hundreds of lives that have been and would be sacrificed and the dislocation of communities in mining affected areas.

“As indicated by several studies, the Mining Act of 1995 has been disastrous to communities and the environment and the promised economic benefit is a pittance compared to the dislocation of communities, especially of indigenous peoples, who face constant health risks and whose livelihoods are threatened by massive environmental destruction due to large-scale mining,” Garganera added.

Thus, the ATM calls on government to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and to pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), “which offers a far more sustainable approach to utilization and protection of our country’s natural resources.”

Press release
March 10, 2014

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