Wednesday, August 15, 2012

THE CARAGA ADVENTURES 5: The myth of “Responsible Mining” tour



This was not included in our itinerary. The glaring truth of unabated carving out, bulldozing of the Red Mountain right before our very eyes. This is an unintended consequence of the Amazing Race.

I saw a video before on youtube on Mining in Cantilan. And another documentary done by Reporter’s Notebook. 

It showed how devastating mining is in our country and how our government's conflicting laws and overlapping claims/ jurisdiction by various government agencies  continue/ adds-up to the environmental destruction. After all of these visual presentations, nothing can still prepare you witnessing it with your own eyes. Goosebumps. Heartsick. 

From San Agustin, Surigao del Sur, we continued our trip driving to Municipality of Carrascal, Surigao del Norte. One of our colleagues, Ate Betty Carascal was excited. Finally, she will be going to the place named after her husband (We joked that her sons can run as mayor here).

We were talking and laughing inside the rented van but stopped when we saw the thick red dust everywhere while entering the road to Claver. (Or was it the road to hell? L).



Dried up river






Large vessels that will bring our soils to China. 



hello tailing pond? EIA and ECC? dafuq!

If this is not environmental destruction, then tell me what is it? 


It 's just too depressing. We stopped talking for a while. It was heartbreaking. 

If your a photojournalist, what will you put on this caption? 


A farmer with his carabao passed the bridge covering his face with a face towel. It was too much to bear. Did the government especially the President saw this? Is this what ‘responsible mining’ is? You can see the ‘tailing pond’ near the sea. You can see the already silted sea. Big barges are waiting at the port for the trucks to unload the soil from our mountains. Our soil directly goes to China. Soil enough to make our own island there!

Three days of marvelling at nature’s wonders and here we are, trapped at the winding and under construction road. We stopped and took pictures. Then we noticed a heavily tinted car following us. Great! The “investment defense force’ to the rescue?!

Some would say, why are you complaining about mining when you use computer, cellphones and other gadgets? This is not the core of the problem and it misdirect arguments. This is not just about mining minerals for our gadgets but most of all, this is the State obligation to ensure that revenue sharing is equal and risks are managed. It’s heartbreaking when your central government sells you wholesale and the people only get the crumbs! 2% excise tax to be divided among LGUs-from national to local? 

But what did we see? Seas silted. Thick dust everywhere. And it’s a landslide-prone area and here’s our Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) constructing a road?! Road to my mine, baby!

You are just over-acting, some would say. Number 1 apprehension that I would like to point out is: Did our DENR-MGB and EMB made any baseline data on our biodiversity in the area? No of course. Mining is proponent-driven and the feasibility study and environmental impact study are for the mining company to comply. Who evaluates the study? Desk review and evaluation at central office! Where they able to see the richness of the area? Where they able to think of the impact of silted seas going up to Socorro, Surigao del Norte? Did they listen to the people’s evaluation of declining fish and other marine resource catch? No they are not scientists so their data is not reliable? 

What’s more heartbreaking? Those posters on the road saying, mining companies like Taganito Mining is their sole source of livelihood. It’s a slap on the face, saying as if their life started only when mining entered/ bulldozed the area. Kapit sa patalim. Local communities divided. Who benefits and who suffers? 

So tell me, if we will pursue responsible mining, do we ever have any best practice to emulate? 

For how long would we be like prostitutes, bending our knees (our rules and laws) and beg for crumbs? We let them extract our mineral resources, soil and soul included.

Sad sad reality.


NB:  ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY MR.  JORGE GOLLE

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