MANILA, Philippines—The Senate has set an inquiry into the “unprecedented” mine spill that occurred at a mining site of Philex Mining Corporation in the province of Benguet last August 2012.
“On August 2012, the country witnessed a mine tailings leak of unprecedented proportions,” Senator Sergio Osmeña III said in a privilege speech Tuesday.
Mine tailings are a form of waste from the process of extracting the valuable minerals or metals from rocks or ore.
“The penstocks of the only operational mine-tailings pond or Pond ‘C’ of Philex in Benguet had collapsed, causing the discharge of over 20.6 million metric tons of mine wastes,” Osmeña said.
He said that the amount of wastes spilled in the incident was “20 times more than the infamous Marinduque Mining Disaster that left Boac River dead over a decade ago.”
There have been no official findings yet from the government on the exact details of the spill such as the toxicity of waste, the accurate amount of waste spilled, as well as the effect on all those living near the Balog and Agno river systems, Osmeña said.
Various Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have written to him calling on the Senate to conduct an investigation into the incident, he said.
“We owe it to our people, the country and ourselves to know the truth about the massive leak, its impact to the affected communities, the Local Government Units, and our ecosystem,” Osmeña said.
“In the interest of transparency, fairness, and justice, I strongly and respectfully request that the appropriate committees of the Senate initiate proper inquiry, in aid of legislation, even while the Senate is on recess,” he added.