Saturday, January 31, 2015

Protest in Nevada on Marinduque-Barrick Gold case February 3

Announcement from Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN).
Protest/News Conference in Las Vegas, February 3.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), a known cohesive force in the US for social and environmental justice, joins the Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife and other environmental activists in Nevada for the holding of a protest rally to highlight the struggle of people in various places with special focus on the case against Barrick Gold by the Provincial Government of Marinduque.

The protest to be held on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at 12:00 pm will be followed by a news conference at the Nevada Supreme Court in 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas. The activists will then hear their case against Barrick at the Regional Justice Center.

It will be recalled that the District Court of Nevada in February 2011 dismissed the case on the ground of Forum non Conveniens in favor of re-filing the case in Canada with conditions favorable to the province. 

To bring resolution to the case it was then that the parties agreed to consider entering into an agreement subject to consultations with stakeholders in the island-province of Marinduque, where the series of environmental disasters took place.

All the conditions in the proposed agreement offered by Barrick, however, were found to be "onerous and unacceptable" by the province's stakeholders, thus the complete rejection of the proposed deal in substance, amount, form and structure for being disadvantageous to people and the Marinduque environment.

While in the process of exploring appropriate legal representation in Canada in the event the Superior Court upholds the lower court's decision to dismiss in favor of re-filing the case in that country, however, the provincial board became aware that the controversial US legal counsel representing the province had filed an appeal. He argued for the case to stay in Nevada, or that the case be dismissed in favor of re-filing in the Philippines. 

Cornering the $20-M?

Local stakeholders see the move as an attempt by certain parties involved in the case to still corner the $20-million offered by the company that local government units in Marinduque and the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC) have already strongly rejected. 

As far as the said amount is concerned, it was admitted by legal representatives during stakeholder meetings that it was inclusive of a missing $12-million escrow fund set up in 2001, by Placer Dome, Inc. for use in rehabilitation of the Boac river.    

The case against the Canadian company was filed in 2005 in Nevada based on the "long arms statute" which gives a local state jurisdiction over an out-of-state company. Other cases that have been filed in the Philippines since 1996 have not moved because of the slow justice system.  

Oral arguments on the case are set to be heard on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by the Nevada District Court in Las Vegas. PLAN has extended an invitation to interested parties to join them on the day of the hearing and stand in solidarity with the people of the Philippines.

The Marinduque mining disaster of 1996, where millions of metric tons of mining waste were dumped into the Boac River remains the worst mining disaster in Philippine history in terms of toxicity.

Protesters in Marinduque during last year's anniversary of the Boac river disaster.


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