Friday, June 8, 2018

On Marcopper: Cloud over ADB

Parang mahirap nang makinig ng awiting, "Could we start again please?" Kahit ano pa ang sabihin ng NGO Forum on ADB, a civil society organization, sasabayan ko ng "It's more than a miracle..."
Anang nasabing org, ADB must be held liable for the environmental destruction caused by projects funded under its portfolio, in particular, the Marcopper Mining project which the ADB funded until 1994. In 1996, the drainage tunnels of Marcopper Mining Corp. open pit broke, causing the mine waste leakage to drain into and pollute the Boac River.

Google Earth image of cloud reflected on abandoned Marcopper dams.

Cloud over ADB


The Philippines hosted the 51st Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) attended by about 3,000 delegates—including finance ministers, central bank governors, bankers and officials.

Such annual meetings have become a premier forum for discussions on economic and social development issues in Asia and the Pacific. Some of the country’s top public officials and investors will be delivering talks about the prospects of the Philippine economy, and testimonials on doing business in the country.

But not everything is rosy for the Manila-based multilateral lender. A few months after its last annual meeting in Yokohama, Japan, there were calls for the ADB to be stripped of its immunity from suit. The NGO Forum on ADB, a civil society organization, claimed that the ADB must be held liable for the environmental destruction caused by projects funded under its portfolio, in particular, the Marcopper Mining project which the ADB funded until 1994. In 1996, the drainage tunnels of Marcopper Mining Corp. open pit broke, causing the mine waste leakage to drain into and pollute the Boac River.

The ADB’s immunity from suit was again challenged in January 2018 after a petition was filed by former ADB employee Matthew

Westfall in the Court of Appeals, seeking to hold the bank and its officers accountable for “abuse of right” and defamation for supposedly bypassing him for promotion unceremoniously and allegedly fabricating “allegations of ineptitude, lack of professionalism and incompetence against him to justify their (action)” despite having full knowledge of his credentials.

Westfall had also previously filed criminal charges for libel and grave slander against said officers, after which ADB terminated him. This is reminiscent of the case of Liang versus People where the Supreme Court ruled that the immunity granted to officers and staff of the ADB was not absolute and was limited to acts performed in an official capacity. Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that the immunity could not cover the commission of a crime such as slander or oral defamation in the name of official duty.

Will this case find its way into the annals of jurisprudence as the case of Liang did? Only time will tell. 

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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