Groups to bring Philex mine spill case before int’l body

SOME 200 anti-mining activists on Wednesday threatened to file complaints of crimes against humanity against the Aquino administration and owners of Philex Mining Corporation before any legitimate international body to see justice for victims of massive mine spill involving one of the biggest foreign mining firms in the country.

Fresh from attending the 1st National Peasants Conference on Land, Mining and Militarization held yesterday at the UP Diliman Campus in Quezon City, leaders of peasant and other rural-based anti-large-sale mining groups trooped to the main office of Philex Mining Corporation in Pasig City to deliver the message the Philex mining firm.

“We want to inform the big bosses of Philex that the mine spill case will soon get the attention of the international community,” said Antonio Flores, spokesperson of KMP, and one of the organizers of the yesterday’s conference.

“Our main objective is to pursue the people’s case against Philex Mining Corp. before the UN led International Court of Justice. We can also stage an international tribunal that would try and subsequently indict President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his client– Philex Mining for their crimes against the people and crimes against humanity,” Flores said at rally at Philex business headquarters in Pasig City this morning.

Flores said the massive mine spill caused by the breakdown of Philex’s Padcal mine is now threatening the entire stretch of Agno River in Pangasinan, which may harm the livelihood of small fisherfolk and contaminate other major river systems in Pangasinan province.

The peasant leader said the news pertaining to the man-made disaster courtesy of Philex’s negligence and greed for super profits has reached the bulletin boards of other peasant activists in Asia through the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) of which KMP is a member.

“We will definitely go global in the fight against large-scale plunder and land-grabbing driven mining with Philex serving as the flagship case in pursuit of truth and justice,” added Flores.

Yesterday, KMP and other organizers of the mining conference urged Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Ramon Paje to revoke the mining permit of Philex Mining Corp. after the firm own by business mogul Manny V. Pangilinan figured in environmental disaster poisoning a major river system enjoining the towns of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet province on August 1 this year.

KMP and allied organizations asserted the situation warrants an all out revocation of Philex mining operation, not just suspension and mere fine of P 1 billion for the pollution caused by sediments leak in the company’s Padcal mine that caused livelihood and environmental destruction covering the towns of Itogon and Tuba in Benguet province and Agno River in Pangasinan.

Last week, the National Secretariat of the Social Action of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) confirmed in a fact-finding mission that the mine spill in Benguet involving Philex leaked 1,300 percent more waste than the 1996 Marcopper incident which left Boac River “biologically dead”. The fact-finding mission was done on September 16-17.

In its 26-page report, the Church-led fact finding mission noted that the mine spill is massive, citing that the total amount of sediments released by the mining company was about 20.6 million metric tons of sediment, which is way above higher compared to Marcopper tragedy in Marinduque 17 years ago.

The spill at Philex Padcal mine took place on August 1 following days of intense rains spawned by two typhoons, but Michael Toledo, Philex vice president for corporate affairs had downplayed the results of the fact-finding mission.

The Philex official said government and independent metallurgists had found the fish and water quality in areas near Padcal’s mine are safe. Toledo argued that the waters discharge in Padcal are free of toxic substances contrary to previous reports that the mine spill led to mutation of tilapia and disappearance of eel regularly caught in the river connecting the towns of Tuba and Itogon.

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