June 9, 2014
References: Piya Macliing Malayao, Spokesperson 0917-3631576
Lea Fullon, Public Information Offcer, 0998-2972500
Philex’s P189 payout is just another PR gimmick—IP group
Not everyone is applauding Philex Mining Corporation’s payout of the P 188.6-M fine imposed by the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) for violating the Clean Water Act of 2004. The recent fine is in addition to the P 1.034 billion fine imposed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to Philex for violating its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). These fines were imposed after a leak in Philex’s waste storage facility, Tailings Pond 3 (TP3), released 20 million metric tons of mine wastes in tributaries of the Agno River in Northern Luzon in August 2012. Environmentalists described the mine tailing spill as the ‘worst mine disaster in Philippine history.’
“The penalizing and the payout seems staged for Philex’s benefit. This just another PR gimmick of the government’s poster boy for ‘responsible’ mining,” said Piya Macliing Malayao of indigenous peoples’ organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP.) “It boasts of what it defines as its duty to the State by giving away a small fraction of its profits. Filipinos must remember that Philex dumped 20 million metric tons of mine wastes into the Agno River, washing away farmlands, houses, and boats on the riverbanks. This massive mine spill only adds up to the environmental degradation done by fifty-six years of mining, which Philex refuses to acknowledge and compensate,” Malayao added.
“Philex was quick to pay the P189 fine because they know it is a good deal,” Malayao claimed. “They are paying off for killing a 2.5 kilometer-long tributary. That amount is nowhere near the destruction it has caused to the Balog River,” she added.
Malayao also raised doubts over the full cleanup and rehabilitation of the Balog Creek and downstream tributaries. An Environmental Investigation Mission (EIM) was conducted a few weeks after the mine leak, headed by Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Sambayanan (Agham). The EIM declared the Balog Creek ‘biologically dead.’ According to the the EIM report, no sign of living things or any form of life found in the Balog River, and also found that the river has a high concentration of toxic substances.
KAMP also criticized the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Department for the Environment and Natural Resources for allowing Philex to use its fines for its own cleanup operations. “These fines are punishment for unsafe and irresponsible mining practices. To clean, rehabilitate, and compensate affected residents is its responsibility. We demand no less from Philex,” Malayao said.
The group demanded the just compensation of affected communities, including downstream communities in Pangasinan. “Philex should take responsibility and compensate for the adverse effects of its operations in Itogon and Tuba and to the communities downstream of the Agno. The communities of San Manuel, San Felipe East, and San Felipe West were severely affected by the mine spill, in addition to the protracted effects of the five-decade mine operations,” Malayao said.
The group also demanded the decommissioning of the TP3. “What Philex uses as the only measure from killing off the Agno River is a geriatric tailings pond, whose life is extended only by plugging in leaks. Could we trust that the TP3 to withstand the rainy seasons and hold in millions of metric tons of mine waste? The government must not allow this clear endangerment of the environment and of the people,” Malayao said.
Philex Mining Corporation’s Padcal Mines has operated at the heart of the Cordilleras for the past fifty-six years. It hosts a mining community of 14,000 people composed primarily of indigenous peoples. The mines, covering an aggregate of 95 hectares of lands in Benguet, were the ancestral territories of a number of Igorot tribes.#
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, 876 Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City, Philippines
(02)412-5340 | firstname.lastname@example.org | katutubongmamamayan.org