Group slams governor’s defense of mining operations
SURIGAO CITY—An environmental group in the Caraga region denounced Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas for “shamelessly” defending large-scale mining companies despite glaring evidence of the destruction that their operations caused in her province.
Matugas earlier said she was “not afraid of mining here in Surigao.”
“The mining industry is, I think, implementing what we call responsible mining,” she said in the wake of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s mention of the province as a haven of irresponsible miners, whose operations are wreaking havoc on the environment.
“It is no wonder that large- scale mining companies have been free to exploit the mineral resources of Surigao del Norte without consideration of the effects to communities, to feed the greed for profit,” said the group Caraga Watch in a statement sent by e-mail to Inquirer.
“They have a shameless protector in Gov. Sol Matugas,” said the statement, signed by Rev. Pio Mercado, Caraga Watch Surigao del Norte spokesperson.
Days after she spoke in favor of mining companies, Matugas said she supported Duterte “against irresponsible mining.”
In a statement released by her office, Matugas said she had a good record in “strictly enforcing applicable rules and pertinent regulations to make sure that mining companies comply with official policies.”
“I am for responsible mining. I believe in caring for the environment,” she said.
Matugas said proof of her advocacy for responsible mining is the ongoing project to build a coastal resource center in the town of Claver, where most large-scale mining operations in the province are based.
But Caraga Watch’s Mercado scoffed at the governor’s action, describing it as “consuelo de bobo.”
“This is too little, too late, and laughable to say the least,” Mercado said.
Mercado said Matugas has spent more than six years as governor “and it took President-elect Duterte to point out the problem” in Surigao del Norte.
Caraga Watch said Matugas turned a blind eye “for years” on heavy siltation caused by mining in coastal areas in the province.
The group said coastal waters in the towns of Placer, Bacuag and Claver “have become a muddy, polluted area with increasingly dwindling marine life.”
Matugas, said Caraga Watch, cannot claim ignorance about the pollution caused by mining because it has been reported many times by media.
It said in the meantime, fish kills have occurred in and diseases have spread among residents of towns around Lake Mainit, which Caraga Watch said has been contaminated by the operations of mining company Red 5-Greenstone Corp. in the towns of Tubod and Mainit. Danilo Adorador III, Inquirer Mindanao
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