Investigation of Itogon and Naga disasters sought
22 September 2018
Rodrigo Duterte‘s vile nature revealed itself spontaneously in the face of a brave woman who told him to his face that the Apo Cement Quarry in Naga, Cebu is the culprit in the landslides that buried their fellow residents alive.
When he retorted: “NPA ka ba? (Are you NPA?)”, Duterte exposed his sentiment that mines and quarries should be above the law and not held accountable for heightening the geological hazards threatening communities affected by their operations. As if opposing these destructive projects are synonymous to rebellion.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque cannot worm the President’s unfettered tongue out of this. Turns out, the early knee-jerk reaction of Duterte to the Itogon Benguet mine disaster of punishing big mines and repealing the Mining Act is just pandering to the public’s indignation.
We call for an independent investigation into these extractive operations and their accountability over these disasters. We cannot accept the usual refrains that ‘small-scale miners are at fault’ or ‘this is a case of force majeure.’
We urge Congress in particular to investigate policy aspects of the issue, particularly why the suspension order and its recommendation to immediately expedite the rehabilitation of Benguet Corp’s abandoned open pit mine and underground tunnels went unheeded.
Now is also the time to revitalize the initial push initiated by former House of Representatives Natural Resources Chair Carlos Zarate for House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill, currently deprioritized by the committee under the succeeding leadership. The People’s Mining Bill aims to reframe the large-scale mining industry from its current foreign-dominating, land-grabbing, and destructive orientation towards national industrialization, land reform and agricultural modernization, environmental protection, and people’s rights.#
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment