January 12, 2012
Legarda Wants Inquiry on Financiers of Small-Scale Mining Operations
Senator Loren Legarda has urged the Senate to conduct an investigation on the accountability of financiers of small-scale mining operations in the recent landslide that occurred in Pantukan, Compostela Valley.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 675, Legarda said that specific areas in Pantukan, including Barangay Napnapan where the January 5, 2012 and the April 2011 landslides occurred, have been identified as landslide-prone areas and the mountain region could collapse from high pressure or big movements, thereby not suitable for habitation and mining activities.
"A geo-hazard map of Pantukan revealed that its topography and geological features make it vulnerable to landslides, among other hazards. Heavier and more frequent rains, brought about by climate change, intensify the vulnerability of mining communities to hazards," she explained.
The Senator said that according to Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy, a local ordinance prohibiting people from dwelling in Barangay Napnapan, particularly in the area where the landslide happened in April 2011, was already issued prior to the January 5 landslide; while the Department of Interior and Local Government has ordered a "no habitation policy" in areas in Pantukan identified as landslide-prone.
"Despite hazard warnings, small miners stay in the mining sites and place their lives at risk for a chance of finding gold instead of relocating to safer places where there is no alternative livelihood. According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, those who were killed or injured in the recent landslide in Barangay Napnapan were small-scale gold miners who had no permits to mine in the area. The tragic incident claimed at least 32 lives," she pointed out.
Legarda said that illegal mining activities in Pantukan are reportedly financed by operators who provide the necessary equipment such as mechanized pumps and sizable mills, which are too expensive for the small miners to afford.
She stressed that these small-scale mining operations are illegal and unregulated miners and communities are exposed to safety hazards and environmental disasters.
"To put a stop to these illegal operations, financiers, who profit at the expense of small miners' lives, must be identified. These financiers must be held liable for the loss of lives due to mining operations in landslide-prone areas," Legarda concluded.
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