DENR not halting Apex, says landslide outside mining area | Inquirer News

DENR not halting Apex, says landslide outside mining area

/ 05:38 AM February 09, 2024

Probe of Davao de Oro mining firm sought following landslide

SCARRED LAND A screengrab from AFPTV aerial video footage taken on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, shows the extent of Tuesday night’s landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro province. Mud and rocks buried parts of a village and a couple of vehicles used by a mining company’s employees. Photo by Agence France-Presse

Apex Mining Co. Inc., the firm that employed the workers killed in a landslide in Davao de Oro on Tuesday, continues to operate as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has not issued any suspension order on the gold prospector owned by ports and gaming tycoon Enrique Razon Jr.

Environment Undersecretary Joselin Fragada said in an interview with Radyo 630 on Wednesday that after reading the spot report from the incident, they did not issue a suspension order because they found out that the landslide occurred outside of the operations of Apex.


She noted, however, that if they later discover that the cause of the incident was the company’s fault, then the DENR would issue such an order.


But for now, Fragada said, Apex was free to continue its operations as it saw fit.

Miners’ responsibility

“They can choose to do so, it’s their prerogative, right? If they like to, [they can] voluntarily cease [operations] first if the weather conditions are really like that,” Fragada said, referring to the continued heavy rains affecting Barangay Masara in Maco town where the incident happened.

“Apex Mining is on limited operations because it is focusing on fully supporting the rescue operations led by the provincial government of Davao de Oro,” Apex said in a statement on Wednesday.

The death toll rose to 11 on Thursday, while the local government said families had reported as many as 110 people missing.

The company also emphasized that the incident did not happen in its area of mining operation and that their transport buses were simply parked outside its premises.


“Just before the landslide, there were four 60-seater buses and one 36 person-capacity jeep waiting for the outgoing employees. One bus had left for Mawab while the rest were still waiting when the landslide occurred, its debris covering the terminal,” Apex said.

When asked by one of the hosts why the DENR did not proactively issue the suspension to save the locals, who were also employed in Apex’s mining operations, from further danger, Fragada said the DENR was coordinating with Apex on its responsibility for the safety of the residents.

“We always remind the mining companies of their responsibilities, and of course, [that includes] watching the post-effect on communities, as well, since most of the host communities are employed with them,” the undersecretary said.

Environmental damage

But in a statement on Thursday, Bayan Muna insisted that Apex should be held liable for the incident since the environmental damage its mining operations had done was what caused the landslide.

“Apex Mining Co. can’t just stay quiet and cover up their big liability and responsibility to their local workers that became victims, especially for those who died, because of the landslide and flooding that happened in its mining site,” said Bayan Muna vice president for Mindanao Eufemia Cullamat.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) also demanded accountability, but from the Duterte political clan all over the Davao region.

KMP said the Dutertes allowed “decades of logging, mining, and plantation operations across Davao region [that] contributed to the destruction of the environment and vulnerability of the population to natural and man-made disasters.”

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KMP also took note that from 2018 to 2021, then President Duterte approved hundreds of Mineral Production Sharing Agreements and Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements in the country’s mining sector covering almost 100,000 hectares.

The Inquirer reached out to Apex by sending an email to get a comment about Bayan Muna’s statement, but it has yet to respond as of writing.

TAGS: Davao de Oro, DENR, Landslide

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