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DAVAO, Philippines – Environmentalist groups pressed the government for an investigation and demanded a halt to mining operations in Davao de Oro in the wake of the February 6 landslide at a mining village in Masara, Maco town.
A week after the landslide, the number of corpses dug at the landslide site rose to 68, but the search has continued for 51 others who were reported missing.
The group, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said the government should thoroughly investigate and determine the extent of accountability of the mining company, Apex Mining Corporation.
Kalikasan PNE Coordinator Jon Bonifacio told Rappler that the catastrophic Masara landslide showed how the worsening impact of climate change has been intersecting with “corporate negligence and impunity in the country.”
“Apex Mining and other mining companies in Mindanao have clearly endangered the lives of hundreds [of people],” Bonifacio said.
Another group of environmentalists, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), called for a stop to destructive mining operations in communities across the country, pointing out that the “steep costs of mining to the environment and people’s lives are not worth any of its purported benefits” especially during floods and heavy rain.
ATM also urged the government to undertake measures to prevent similar disasters as they respond to the needs of the families affected by the landslide.
The progressive group Bayan Muna said Apex should be held liable for the incident, alleging that the damage its operations did to the environment was what caused the landslide.
Bayan Muna Vice President for Mindanao Eufemia Cullamat said, “Apex Mining Co. can’t just stay quiet and cover up their big liability and responsibility to their local workers [who] became victims, especially for those who died, because of the landslide and flooding that happened in its mining site.”
Apex has asserted in a statement that the area where the landslide buried several dozen people, houses, and vehicles is not part of its mine site. Rather, it said the place served as a terminal for vehicles dispatched to move mining workers.
The mining company also said it has been closely coordinating with the local governments in the hope of finding more victims and helping their families. – Rappler.com