Antique wants Semirara mines closed after accident

 

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Antique's Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) passed a resolution recommending the suspension and closure of Panian open pit due to the ongoing investigation into an accident that buried 9 miners.

Chaired by Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao, the PDRRMC passed the resolution during its emergency disaster meeting on Sunday, July 19.

“Tinitingnan namin na ang suspension of work is only given two weeks by the Department of Energy. Baka ang mangyari diyan after two weeks baka balik naman sila at babayaran na lang nila ang mga victims ng remuneration kasi last time binigyan nila ng P1 million each,” said Cadiao.

(We're looking at the fact that the Department of Energy suspended work for only two weeks. But what might happen is, after two weeks, the mine will operate again and they will just pay the victims renumeration. Last time, they just gave them P1 million each.)

The same part of the mining site operated by Semirara Mining and Power Corporation collapsed in 2013. 

On Monday afternoon, July 20, the company issued a statement, saying what the Antique governor predicted: it would give P1 million to the families of each of the victims, among other forms of assistance.

Cadiao divulged that based on the initial result of the investigation by the Antique Provincial Police Office (APPO), the cause of the landslip was the loose soil excavated from the ground and was stocked above or near the mouth of the open pit.

“The loose soil was taken from the ground and was placed near the mouth of the open pit. Gabundok na (It was as high as a mountain) and for two weeks of raining, it became heavy and it caused the mouth of the mine site to collapse,” said Cadiao.

She added that 374 cubic tons of soil slipped and buried the workers alive.

Cease and desist

The Environmental Management Bureau in Region VI, the attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, on the other hand, will serve on Tuesday, July 21, the cease and desist order against the operation of Panian Mine, an open pit mine site of the Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC).

According to EMB-VI regional director Jonathan Bulos, the cease and desist order is in relation with the bureau’s issuance of the environment compliance certificate (ECC) to SMPC.

Bulos said the first ECC issued by EMB on August 12, 1999, for Panian site covers 4,000 hectares.

On November 27, 2000, it was amended and it also covered the East Panian site covering 1,000 hectares.

The total production a year of the Panian site is 8 million metric tons.

Bulos clarified that the current mining operation is at the Panian site while the East Panian has yet to start.

The west wall of the Panian was the one that collapsed in February 2013, killing at least 5 workers, while the recent incident happened at the northen portion of Panian.

Retrieval operation continues

The rescue and retrieval operation of SMPC continues at the site of the accident, Mayor Genevive Lim Reyes of the municipality of Caluya said in a statement.

As of Monday, 3 miners remained missing: Danilo Bayhon, 56; Noel Peñola, 46; and Ian Catulay, 38.

Six are confirmed dead: Alexander Nudo, 35; Arnold Omac, 42; Ricardo Panes, 54; Dixon Daupan, 50; Bernie Manrique, 39; and Generoso Talaro, 52.

The municipal government had met with the families of the victims and continued to provide psychological support through stress debriefing and management by local social workers.

Caluya pledged to give P25, 000 pesos to the families of each the 9 casualties, and P10,000 to the 5 survivors.

“Despite the landslip, the [local government] maintains its belief that it was an accident. We know the lives of all employees of the company are regarded seriously by the management; and reflect our own staunch views on safety and proper precaution,” the town mayor said. – Rappler.com