Activists throw mud at Aquino, Paje, Pangilinan tarpaulins to protest Philex operations



MANILA, Philippines – Environmental activists picketed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City on Thursday in protest against its order permitting Philex Mining Corp. to resume operations in its Padcal facility.

About a dozen protesters belonging to the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment threw mud at tarpaulins with the faces of President Benigno Aquino III, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, and Philex chair Manuel V. Pangilinan.

The demonstrators voiced their objections to the four-month MGB permit allowing Philex, whose tailings pond facility leaked 20 million metric tons of sediments in Benguet last year, to resume operations as an “urgent remediation” measure.

MGB gave Philex four months to operate in order to remove the water inside its damaged Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3). The agency said a total of 3.5 million metric tons of fresh mine tailings were needed to fill up and remove the water in the dam.

“The decision of MGB is condemnable. Philex operation will put the lives of mine workers and communities in grave danger,” Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan, said in a statement.

“The degraded environment in Benguet will be further devastated. Based on the MGB permit, the damaged tailings dam of Philex will be used again. This is totally unsafe and dangerous,” he said.

Engineer Vergel Aniceto of KATRIBU partylist said the Philex tailings dam was already “structurally compromised and should not be used again for mining operation.”

“The dam has reached its life span of 20 years. Before its collapse, it was overloaded with more than four million metric tons of mine wastes. It was supposedly decommissioned in 2012 yet Philex opted to extend the use of the dam, which resulted in its failure and several mine spills,” he said.

“The tailings dam is dangerous and should never be used again,” Aniceto said.

Philex constructed the TSF3 in 1992 after the dam failure of its TSF2.

In August, following heavy downpours caused by back-to-back storms, the tailings dam failed, causing 20 million metric tons of mine wastes to leak into river systems in the province.

As a result, the company was fined more than P1 billion.

“We cannot comprehend how an environmental bureau sees it safe to operate a compromised mining structure and trust. MGB’s excuse that the operation of Philex is needed to rehabilitate the tailing dam is pure hogwash,” Bautista said.

He said there were technologies available that would allow Philex to decommission the tailings dam without resuming its mining operations.

“This decision is a precursor for the full operation of Philex using TSF3 which will eventually subject our communities and environment to great disasters,” Bautista said.

“Instead of creating more toxic mine wastes to ‘rehabilitate’ the tailings dam the better option is to pump out the remaining water in the dam, fix the structural problem of the dam, then refill the dam with the more than 100 million metric tons tailings deposit in their storage facility,” Aniceto said.

“If they want to operate, Philex should construct a new tailings dam which is structurally stable and designed to withstand super typhoons and strong earthquakes,” he added.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Demy Angeles

    These self-proclaimed activists are not in touch with reality or they just avoid it.  How about the workers of Philex?

    And the most concerned that the spill won’t happen is Philex 

    • kangsongdaeguk

       short-term needs of workers of Philex or sustainability and long-term issues regarding biodiversity? Choose, if not strike some balance.

  • reychard678

    Here comes again these political fronts of the CPP/NPA to create trouble so that they can have a news mileage to showboat abroad that they’re fighting for human rights/injustices. Mawawalan kasi ng sweldo ang mga ito kung hindi sila manggugulo, kung hindi sila magrally. Appealing to these Philantropic countries abroad to study these sinister actions of the cause oriented groups affiliated with communism and stop their aid to them for the country’s law and order including its development is greatly jeopardized by the destruction they wrought

  • malek_abdul

    Vergel Aniceto is not a Structural nor a Civil Engineer. He does not have the authority to proclaim that the tailings pond of Philex is structurally unstable.

    I have seen and experienced NGOs and picketers against mining firms in the country. These people are just making “noise” to gain funds from international NGO institutions. After they received their money from the “donors” they will lie low again till their money is finished. It is their means of living at the expense of companies and its workers.

    If Clemete Bautista is really an environmentalist he must first run after the illegal loggers all over the country especially in Mindanao and Sierra Madre. Mining companies are required to plants trees within and outside its mining area. I should know coz I’ve worked in Philex and has helped plant more than million of trees in Tuba Benguet and in Sipalay and Hinobaan in Negros Occidental. Philex has its own nursery and crew who maintain and continuously plant trees.

  • dorothyanne88

    These militant NGO Orgs. hiding behind the backdrop of environment protection showed again their belligerence to attack mining companies recriminating with their rationale that it’s continued operation  destroys the environment. But the welfare and existence of the employees and their families soon to be displaced upon the firm’s closure has no relevance in their minds. They’re inconsiderate and unmerciful to them because all they’re after is to spawn havoc in the country using the protection and conservation of the environment as one reason and the other is social injustice done by the military or any private firm. 

    These militant NGO’s don’t give a hoot even if the lives of these employees be put in the hangman’s noose so long as they create noise and trouble thus to destabilize the government is their main goal since they are affiliates of the communist. And as informed these militant rallyists are being paid whenever they join any rally or picket and ordered to fight and be injured so that financial support shall pour in.

  • Weder-Weder Lang

    The environmental activists are missing the point. There’s more than what meets the eye. DENR permitted Philex to resume its mining activities as part of a bigger tit for tat. Manny Pangilinan commissioned an SWS survey recently through his Business World showing results highly favoring PNoy’s LP candidates. Manny Pangilinan’s PDI has been printing anti-UNA headlines and editorials to bring down Enrile, Estrada and Binay. For all his efforts, Manny Pangilinan has already been richly rewarded with the rich PPP Palawan Oil Contract. LP President and DOTC Chief Abaya is also ready to award PPP to Manny Pangilinan. Money makes the world go round.

    With lucrative PPPs waiting for Manny Pangilinan, of course he doesn’t want to move back to HK as he once threatened.

  • $5699914

    Dahil sa mga magugulong mga militantante na maka-kalikasan-kuno, napag-iiwanan na tayo ng buong mundo sa aspeto ng pagmimina.

  • Ngiping Dilaw

    Ayan si Presidente e mahilig sa mudslinging ayan nabato sila ng putik!

  • JasonBieber

    Let’s be clear under the Aquino Administration…the poor take a back back seat to the rich and PNoy KKK.

    It’s ironic the activists throw mud at PNoy yet PNoy throws mud at his political foes especially GMA.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos