Saturday, August 22, 2015

Marinduquenos now pray together to push through with the Barrick case in seeking environmental justice

Recently, amid talk that the Marinduque provincial government, after failing to convince stakeholders in affected communities and the general population to accept an "onerous and unacceptable" deal with Barrick Gold, may consider dropping the case in view of financial issues associated with moving the case to Canada fueling new speculations, the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC), and concerned local government functionaries are continuing with their conduct of forums to seek the right information and finally, environmental justice in the said alternative venue.

Bishop Maralit's Circular Letter. Photo: Macec Marinduque


Bishop of Boac, Marcelino Antonio Maralit, Jr. has enjoined all Catholic churches in Marinduque to include in their Sunday mass prayer petitions the pursuit of "environmental justice and the continuous protection of the province's precarious state of natural resources".

In its Circular Letter No. 3-2015 of August 10, 2015, the Bishop of the Diocese of Boac also urged the Catholic faithful to use the same prayer petition in the barangay chapels, Catholic and public schools, government institutions and other offices, thus:

Para sa ikasusulong ng hangarin nating maisabatas na maideklara ang Marinduque bilang lalawigang mahigpit na tumututol at nagbabawal sa anumang uri ng pagmimina. Manalangin tayo
Para sa pagkakamit ng hustisyang pangkalikasan at panglipunan, nawa ang mga pinuno ng pamahalaang panlalawigan ng Marinduque at magkaroon ng sapat na lakas at inspirasyon na maging determinadong ipagpatuloy na isulong ang kaso laban sa Marcopper, Placer Dome/Barrick Gold. Manalangain tayo

(For the pursuit of our desire to pass into law the declaration of Marinduque as a province strongly opposing and banning any form of mining. Let us pray.

(For the attainment of environmental and social justice, may the leaders of the provincial government of Marinduque have enough strength and inspiration to be determined to push through with the legal case against Marcopper, Placer Dome/Barrick Gold, Let us pray.) 

It will be recalled that the case was originally filed by Marinduque province in Nevada in October 2005. The province had sought damages from Placer Dome, once the largest copper mining in Asia-Pacific, for the pollution of the Boac river in 1996, and the destruction of the Marinduque island's forests, river basins and coral reefs over a period of time with millions of tons of waste laden with dangerous arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, nickel and sulfate. 

In June 2015, the Nevada court upheld unanimously a 2010 district judge's finding in the case that because Barrick is based in Canada, the case would be better handled in Toronto or in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Placer Dome ceased operations in Marinduque in 1997 after more than 30 years as a minority partner with a Philippine government company, Marcopper Mining Co., and a year after a mine waste pool dam failed.

Recently, amid talk that the Marinduque provincial government, after failing to convince stakeholders in affected communities and the general population to accept an "onerous and unacceptable" deal with Barrick Gold, may consider dropping the case in view of financial issues associated with moving the case to Canada fueling new speculations, the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC), and concerned local government functionaries are continuing with their conduct of forums to seek the right information and finally, environmental justice in the said alternative venue.

Multi-stakeholders in a recent forum organized by the Municipal Government of Boac. Photo: Rolando Larracas


U.S. protesters vs. Barrick during the last Nevada hearing on the Marinduque case.
To this day toxic copper oxide flow from the mines to the Boac tributaries.
Photo: Apo Pongkoy Manrique

Toxic blue water from the minesite. Photo: Apo Pongkoy Manrique


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