Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Marcopper wants to mine first before rehab of damaged ecosystems and Gina Lopez says what?



Marinduque Gov. Carmencita Reyes whose lips were sealed on the Marcopper issues since the infamous proposed settlement controversies that erupted in 2013, has now claimed something very curious. In an interview by Henry Omaga-Diaz, (for The World Tonight ANC), Reyes said that the mining company wanted to 'repair on condition that they are allowed to mine first to generate funds for the repair'.

When and where this idea was taken up, only she and those close to her apparently know. As far as the people of Marinduque are concerned, large-scale and small-scale mining in Marinduque are out of the question, non-negotiable.

In 2005, MACEC submitted 15,000 signatures of Marinduquenos calling for a moratorium on large-scale mining operations in the island, resulting in the adoption by the provincial council (SP) of Resolution No. 379 s. 2005  declaring a 50-year large-scale mining moratorium in the province. A new set of legislators reiterated the 50-year large scale mining moratorium by adopting Resolution No. 25 in 2007. 

Then in 2010 the SP reiterated once again the 50-year mining moratorium policy of the province through Resolution No. 35 s. 2010. Going even further than that, in 2011, the SP adopted Resolution No. 335 s. 2011 “amending the declaration of mining moratorium in the province to include the moratorium on small scale mining, excluding quarrying."

So now, why the talk of reopening the mine when possible social accountability to both large-scale and small-scale mining for metallic minerals have been loudly and repeatedly denied by the people? Large-scale and small-scale mining in Marinduque are, at the risk of getting repetitious, out of the question, non-negotiable. 

The idea of allowing Marcopper 'to mine first to generate funds for the repair' is in fact, also in complete contradiction to the infamous proposed settlement  by the Province of Marinduque and Barrick Gold three years ago.  One condition stated among others that no part of the funds would be used to rehabilitate the damaged eco-systems, Calancan Bay, Mogpog River, Boac River. Rehabilitating these ecosystems was a core aspect of the law suit.

Marinduquenos protesting in 2013 the 'onerous, unacceptable' settlement agreement

If there had been a meeting between the Governor and Marcopper/Placer Dome where the latter expressed willingness 'to repair on condition that they are allowed to mine first', then this is probably something never disclosed to the public, nor any of the stakeholders concerned. By connecting the dots however, particularly recent statements from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional director, Roland de Jesus, the idea of Marcopper operating again is indeed being floated around. 

Is Reyes, by stating what she's saying now echoing the same idea as a new option?

How could it even be possible to think that people will ever forget that it was open-pit mining and the lack of suitable place to dump the mine tailings that caused the Marinduque miseries in the first place? How does that problem get solved by more mining? And since when does the perpetrator of gross harm get to dictate what it will do and how it will abuse some more before providing relief? 

And this comes after the large-scale attempt to deceive the people of Marinduque by wooing them to accept the ill-fated settlement deal described as "onerous", and one that stipulated legal fictions. One that stipulated that there are no unacceptable environmental or health impacts related to the mining by Marcopper on Marinduque over almost 30 years!

It could be likened to a quack doctor saying now to his patient - here, first take some more poison and then I'll cure you! Simply disgusting and absurd!


18 km private graveled and earth Marcopper road traversed by residents of barangays Kilo-Kilo, Labo and San Antonio. Neglected for over two decades. Photo: Joel Paez

Enter Gina Lopez, but

And what's holding DENR Secretary-designate Gina Lopez (her appointment yet to be approved by the CA), after making recent statements on how the children and farmers of Marinduque have suffered, what's holding her from making a clear, definitive stand on the Marinduque environmental and health impacts? Why use the Marinduque mining miseries to justify closures and suspensions of mining operations ELSEWHERE? It looks and feels exploitative.

It will be recalled that in an earlier interview by GMA's Jay Taruc in November 2016, Lopez was caught on video saying of Marcopper:

Gina Lopez being interviewed by GMA's Jay Taruc. Screenshot from Lason sa Paraiso

"Yung mining company ang dapat mag-rehab. They should fix it. Ang challenge ngayon ay to rehabilitate the dam... Ang problema dito, the mine did the devastation for one whole generation. Hanggang ngayon. It's not good. We will fix it. Now what we do is what should have been done 20 years ago, is that once you suspend, tulungan natin. They can't go out and i-rehabilitate nila yung mines..."

It's getting curiouser and curiouser.




For the record, the relevant portion of the recent (Feb. 23, 2017 ) The World Tonight, ANC news feature (link) earlier mentioned went as follows in actual sequence:


Reyes: "Gusto nila ire-repair nila on condition, magmimina muna sila para makakuha ng kuwarta para irepair" .(They want to repair on condition that they should mine first so they could generate funds for the repair)
Omaga-Diaz: "But DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said she has no plans of giving Marcopper a permit to operate again. She cited claims of residents, the mining firm did not even provide medical assistance to those affected by a toxic waste spill that hit major river systems in Marinduque in 1996."
Gina: "Grabe! Hanggang ngayon yung dalawang ilog patay pa. Yung 78 children nagdudusa pa sa brain disease. Yung corals nila, patay. For me you've killed the economic potential of the place."
Who is MR Holdings?

To court for damages and exposing ownership

Recently, in its website, MGB-Mimaropa published a report about the urgency of fixing a serious 'new threat' of subsidence that has developed in the Maguila-guila Siltation Dam in Mogpog. It had proposed some solution to mitigate the problem. 

But no fixes downstream would be meaningful if the source of the problems at the mine site itself are not addressed at source. This could only be possible by gaining access to the site, currently guarded. 

Who's paying the guards' salaries, by the way? Marcopper? But who is MR Holdings named in 'no trespassing' signs at the mine site? 

Are those concerned unwilling to tackle these questions head on?



It must not be forgotten that the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC), the municipalities, barangays, the Catholic Church, other NGOs and stakeholders have not wavered a bit in pushing the fact that there are lawyers in Canada able and willing to act on behalf of the Province, to take Barrick to court for damages and expose the ownership of this guarded mine site.

The least that the continually exploited people of Marinduque expect is for DENR, Sec. Lopez and the national government to positively support, actively support this case going ahead. This case, apparently due to never-ending manipulations by some, legally and otherwise, that have characterized Marinduque's struggle for justice, its re-filing in Canada has been protracted once again. Why? 

Silence.


Also Read:

Marinduque environmental disaster circus: Hidden agenda glaring now?

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