Reflections · Stories · Uncategorized

Marcopper

During our first year anniversary, I asked my husband what he saw in me that made him decide that l am the one.  He said, I am AMIABLE.  I  Googled amiable and dictionary.com says it is having or showing pleasant, good-natured personal qualities; agreeable; willing to accept the wishes, decisions, or suggestions of another or others.  In short “mabait”, meaning – slow to anger and agreeable.  However, that is not how I feel right now.  I want to disagree and I want to get mad.

I have been reading about the Marcopper Mining Disaster in  Marinduque, Philippine.  On March 24, 1996, the plug that sealed the Taipan pit tunnel to Boac fractured releasing 2-3 million tons of tailings (toxic mining waste) into Boac River causing flash floods. The flood buried Barangay Hinapulan with muddy floodwater and about 30% of the 60 villages have to be evacuated.  The river which is also their water source was declared unsafe thus making their drinking water and food source contaminated.  Furthermore, the flood also destroyed crops and irrigation channel. For a community of fisher folks and farmers, these translate to no homes and no source of livelihood.  The despair does not end there, the vapor emitting from the tailings and are carried by air and is causing skin irritation and respiratory problems.

Who is at fault?  Everyone has their own excuse.  After all the findings, Marcopper claims that the tailings are not toxic.  Placer Dome who manages Marcopper and owns 40%  shares,  insists that a minor earthquake  a week before the incident caused the entire spill.  They further claim that they met all environmental standard set forth during the MARCOS regime.  Department of Environment and Natural resources (DENR) who issued an Environment Compliance Certificate to Marcopper denies knowledge of the Taipan drainage tunnel.  If none of them is at fault, then why is this such a tragedy?

As I read the case, I have so many other questions in my mind.  Bear with me as I think aloud.

  1. There are still 20 million tons of tailings left, what will happen to it?
  2. What safeguards were put in place to make sure the spill  never happens again?
  3. Who will be held liable for this? Can we hold the owner’s liable?   Almost all reference materials mentioned Placer Dome as co-owner with 40% share. Then who owns the other 60% shares?
  4. In 1997, the case mentioned that Placer Dome sold its entire share in Marcopper.  Who in its right mind will buy a company with a great responsibility and no guaranty of operating again?
  5. If the owner fails to do their part in protecting the community,  who is the  next line of defense?   Is it the Philippines government?  If they are, what government intervention should they have done or failed to do?
  6. There was a case filed  against the government officials and officer of Marcopper.  What is the status of the case?
  7. If it is fruitless to hold the owners and the government responsible, can we hold Placer Dome liable not as owner, but as the managing company ( they managed Marcopper for 30 years)?

I will not answer these questions becuase I want everyone who reads my post to read more and seek for the answer.    It is sufficient to say that some people got rich at the expense of the people they were supposed to protect.   It is disheartening to know that blatantly there was disregard for the environment and the well-being of the community.  It is disappointing to realize that until now, the locals are waiting for resolution that may never come.   The truth sometimes hurt, but the truth is needed so that all will learn from past mistakes and move on from there. The question is, has the Philippines learned from the past.

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I wanted to yes, but had we?  Really?  I want to disagree again.

 

Photo(s) Credit: https://goo.gl/bdNvJ2

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