Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Itogon landslide is another wake-up call: Duterte calls mining a "monster"




composite photo of President Rodrigo Duterte (from ABS CBN) and militant groups on protest as they march to the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City on Tuesday, urging the government to stop large or small-scale mining (photo from Manila Times)



Manila, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday stressed his call to end mining, citing that the practice could no longer continue because it had “created a monster in the country.”

The chief executive made the statement a day after he called on Congress to “abrogate” the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, following the landslide in Itogo, Benguet that killed dozens of trapped miners.


During his briefing after the typhoon in Isabela, the president said the miners must be stopped, saying “the time has come when our motherland is overused and abused.”

“Even before, I wanted to stop [mining]but [could]not for the fact that it is allowed by law. If it is allowed by law, little could I do anything about it. I cannot stop mining because I am not allowed to abrogate any law here, but I want to stop it because it has created a monster in this country,” the President said.

“How much [will]P70 billion [do]to the country if you compare it to the losses of the Philippines because of mining. There are a lot of holes [in the lands],” Duterte said.

The president also called the monstrous activity “obnoxious, if not downright stupid.”

“Whether it is really boring the hills and mountains from the inside, or carving out as it widens and widens … contrary to what they say, [in mining areas there is no] reforestation,” he said in mix of English and Filipino

“It is, to me, obnoxious, if not downright stupid, these mining people, occupying and mining watershed areas,” he added.

The recent typhoon-induced landslide in Itogon that buried a bunkhouse in the mining village of Ucab, is yet another terrible reminder of the perils of mining activities, particularly small-scale mining.*

The victims of Ucab landslide was reportedly among those who were involved in illegal gold mining activities near the bunkhouse.

The bunkhouse was used to be occupied by Benguet Corp. which is a few kilometers away from the company’s Balatoc and Dalicno mines.

The said village mine said was reportedly declared by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a geohazard zone prone to landslides. 

Reports also said that Benguet Corp had already sent letters to the small-scale miners to vacate the area for safety purposes.

So far, the authorities of the Northern Luzon Command have recovered 39 bodies from the site of the bunkhouse.

Rescuers, on the other hand, fear that dozens more were trapped under mud and rocks are now dead.

The mining village landslide site in Itogon, Benguet / photo from Sunstar 




Source: Manila Times