MACEC Press Release: Pananawagan at Panindigan ng mga Marinduqueno sa ika-25 taong anibersaryo.
It has been 25 years since March 24, 1996 when more than 1.6 million metric tons of toxic mine waste from Tapian Pit spilled over the 26 kilometers stretch of Boac River, that caused damages to the agricultural crops of 5,000 families. A quarter of a century has passed, and yet no clear path of rehabilitation was done. Marcopper/Placer Dome left behind a river system ailing with toxic materials. The tragedy at that time was recognized as “the worst mining disaster in the history of mining in the Philippines and the world.”
Four months after the infamous mine-waste spillage, The Most Reverend Rafael Lim; the first bishop of the Diocese of Boac, established Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC) on July 27, 1996, with a mission to spearhead for the advocacies for environmental justice and protection, and justice for the victims. In many years Marinduqueňos showed their unity, and strength the reason why a lot was accomplished. Each we should be grateful of, and recognize the “champions” who led us towards victory
Studies conducted by the Department of Health (DOH) on the three (3) affected municipalities of Mogpog, Boac, and Sta. Cruz revealed health hazards that caused the people to be victims due to heavy metal contamination and on the larger scale its continuous damages on the ecosystem due to the absence of proper rehabilitation of the river. On the other hand, the open pit dam, and other structures left by Marcopper/ Placerdome became a constant and perilous threat to the safety of the residents.
In 2003, The Most Reverend Jose Oliveros, the second bishop of the Diocese of Boac headed the first Diocesan Synod as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of establishment of the Diocese which led the way for the ratification of decrees that became the pillars for the local church in Marinduque. The 6th part of the said document which discusses about: “Katarungan” or Justice states that: “magkaroon ng patuloy at malawakang kampanya hinggil sa wastong pangangalaga sa likas na yaman at kalinisan ng kapaligiran, at tahasang pagtutol na may matibay na paninindigan sa anumang uri ng malakihang (open pit, underground, etc.) pagmimina at iba pang katulad na industriya at gawaing may malubhang epekto sa kapaligiran o ekolohiya ng lalawigan” (to conduct continuous and extensive campaigns for the protection and conservation of the natural resources, and firm stance on the explicit objection over any forms of large-scale (open pit, underground, etc.) mining and other similar industries and activities that can cause serious effects on the environment, and ecology of the province.) It was implemented throughout the diocese under the stewardship of the Bishop, and the priests. It also became one of the strong foundations of MACEC as a church-based organization.
August 10, 2015, The Most Reverend Marcelino Antonio Maralit, Jr. released a circular letter in the Diocese of Boac that instructs all the parishes in the province to read the following intentions in the Prayers of the Faithful during the Mass:
a) Para sa ikasusulong ng hangarin nating maisabatas na maideklara ang buong Marinduque bilang lalawigang mahigpit na tumututol at nagbabawal sa anumang uri ng pagmimina, at
b) Para sa pagkakamit ng hustisyang pangkalikasan at panglipunan, nawa ang mga pinuno ng pamahalaang panlalawigan ng Marinduque ay magkaroon ng sapat na lakas at inspirasyon na maging determinadong ipagpatuloy na isulong ang mga kaso laban sa Marcopper/Placer Dome/Barrick Gold
The cases filed against Marcopper/Placer Dome/Barrick Gold in the Municipal Trial Court, Regional Trial Court, and Supreme are progressing and gained the support from the Government, and the people of Marinduque.
Today as we commemorate this tragic event in the history of our beloved home, a continuous clamor for justice, and an outcry through petitions were being expressed by the Marinduqueños to the Officials of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and to the National Government mainly for the following:
1. A continuous and arduous search for environmental justice through the filing of cases and its respective resolutions.
2. An appeal to the Office of the President, His Excellency, President Rodrigo R. Duterte to deny with finality the standing appeal of Marcopper Corporation for an MPSA (Mineral Production Sharing Agreement), its consequent cancellation in Marinduque.
3. The desire of the Marinduquenos that the whole province be declared as a NoGo Zone for Mining
We are campaigning for the declaration of the province as “no go zone” for mining, a bill which was originally filed by then Rep. Gina Reyes thru House Bill No. 5566 “An Act Declaring Province of Marinduque a Mining-Free Zone”. The 16th Congress approved the bill on August 24, 2015, and was submitted to the Senate on Agosto 27, 2015 but its approval was denied together with the similar bills filled by other Provinces in the country. In line with this, 2 related bills were also filed by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco (House Bill No. 6336) and former MATA Party List Rep. Tricia Q. Velasco – Catera (House Bill No. 6384) in the 17th congress. Support to the said bills were expressed thru conducting of signature campaigns in the province.
The declaration of Marinduque as a No Go Zone for Mining is but a necessary precaution for the continuous protection of what is still left from the tragic destruction caused by previous mining activities in the province. The people are suffering for three decades (3) due to irresponsible operation of the mining corporation, and the “carrying capacity” of the island cannot occupy the mine waste, and damages to be caused by other forms of mining. With this are the other relevant reasons such as;
1. The province is at risk to natural hazards such as the following:
- Marinduque ranks 7th out of 10 provinces that are prone to landslide as per DENR;
- Vulnerable to earthquakes, 93% of the population of the province is expose to the Central Marinduque Fault;
- Third (3rd) with the most evident deforestation in the Philippines;
- Prone to storms and other at ng natural calamities;
- High chance flooding; there are places that are determined as susceptible to it which is due to the changing climate (climate change)
2. The people are also pushing for the protection of the remaining natural resources in the province that includes the Marinduque Wild-Life Sanctuary (MWS) which was declared by the congress as a Protected Area thru Republic Act No. 11038. A great number of different species of animals and plants are inhabitance of the said place, and many communities rely to it, as it serves as source of flowing water.
3. The island-province belongs to the Verde Island Passage or the Center of the Biodiversity in the World, which means that Marinduque is abundant in rich fishing grounds which deserves protection from the pollution and harms brought by mining; including the islands and natural sceneries, for the benefit of the next generation;
4. The provincial government of Marinduque thru the 10th Sangguniang Panlalawigan the declared the Fifty (50) year large scale mining moratorium for the Province as per SP Resolution No. 379 s. 2005 on October 28, 2005. Since then, the said moratorium was consistently reiterated and declared a-new up until today thru the 15th Sangguniang Panlalawigan as per Resolution No. 45 s 2019. Five (5) municipalities of the Province and many Sangguniang Barangays showed their support by releasing resolutions expressing their firm stand against mining.
This 25th Anniversary of the Marcopper mine waste spillage and our participation in the World Water Day, and Philippine Water Week we would like to reiterate the following to the Local, Provincial, and National Government:
1. For the declaration of the whole Province of Marinduque as Mining-free zone;
2. For the Provincial Government of Marinduque to immediately file the cases versus Placer Dome/Barrick Gold
3. An appeal to the Office of the President, His Excellency, President Rodrigo R. Duterte to deny with finality the standing appeal of Marcopper Corporation for an MPSA (Mineral Production Sharing Agreement), its consequent cancellation in Marinduque.
4. Conduct a comprehensive health and environmental assessment on the mining affected areas in the province.
5. Construction of footbridges, and signages in the contaminated rivers and seas in Boac, Mogpog, and Sta. Cruz to prevent the residents’ exposure to heavy metals.
6. To conduct the rehabilitation of Boac river, Mogpog river, and Calancan Bay for the benefit of the residents and the future generation.
As proof of our stance and appeal, we attached the attendance of the Youth Forum, and LGU- CSO Forum held this March 2021.
MARINDUQUE COUNCIL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
San Miguel Street, Barangay Mataas na Bayan,
Boac, 4900 Marinduque, the Philippines