More groups clamor for independent probe into Davao de Oro landslide
MANILA, Philippines — More groups are calling for an independent investigation of large-scale mining operations following a landslide that killed at least 54 people in a mining village in Maco, Davao de Oro.
Several women’s groups including Gabriela Women’s Party (Gabriela), Bai Indigenous Women’s Network, and Amihan National Federation, trooped to the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Monday to call for accountability from Apex Mining Co. regarding the tragedy.
Apex Mining is a firm operating in the mining village of Maco town.
“Ang panawagan namin ay iyong kagyat na independiyente at patas na imbestigasyon sa naganap na trahedya kung saan karamihan sa mga nasawi ay mga manggagawa mismo ng Apex Mining Corporation,” Clarice Palce, Gabriela Secretary General, told INQUIRER.net.
(Our call is for an immediate independent and fair investigation into the tragedy that occurred where most of the victims were workers of Apex Mining Corporation.)
Palce said the groups are also requesting for the temporary suspension of mining operations in Maco while rescue efforts and subsequent investigations on the landslide are underway.
On Sunday evening, Maco Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office reported that the February 6 landslide also injured 36 people while 63 others remain missing.
On February 10, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said Apex Mining had nothing to do with the landslide as it was due to natural causes.
But Palce stressed that even an ordinary man understands that mining involves extraction of minerals from the soil which eventually weakens foundations and makes it vulnerable to such disasters.
“We see these [claims] as excuses. Even an ordinary citizen would know that disasters and rapid soil erosion is due to the destructive extraction of natural resources,” she said.
Previously, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment also called for an investigation on large-scale mining operations saying that the Davao de Oro incident highlighted the “deadly combination” of climate change and irresponsible businesses.
The Office of Civil Defense likewise recommended a crackdown on irresponsible mining practices in light of the tragic incident.
For its part, Apex Mining Co. said in a previous statement that the landslide happened at a vehicle terminal for buses ferrying its employees which is outside its mining area.