Diocese asks next admin to declare Marinduque as ‘mining-free’ zone

June 13, 2022 - 10:37 AM
The Mogpog River in Marinduque province is one of the few tributaries of Mogpog town’s main watershed area. The river has suffered from recurring floods due to siltation caused by the collapse of the Marcopper Mining Corporation’s Maguilaguila siltation dam in 1993. (Photo courtesy of Alyansa Tigil Mina)

A Catholic bishop hinted his diocese will appeal to the incoming government to declare the island province of Marinduque a mining-free zone.

Bishop Marcelino Antonio Maralit Jr. of Boac said the plan is to write to the Marcos administration to help them in their campaign to protect the island’s environment and communities.

“Then we will ask the national government to declare the province of Marinduque as mining-free,” Maralit said in a video interview with Caritas Philippines.

According to him, about 83 percent of the small island is “mineable”. “And if we let the miners in, nothing will be left of the island,” he said.

Marinduque is known as a cautionary tale about the environmental ravages of mining.

After the Marcopper mining tragedy in 1993, Mogpog River has been considered biologically dead, which, prior to the disaster, was valuable natural resource to villages along the river.

Heavily silted with mine tailings, Boac River also suffered the same fate in 1996.

Last month, a local court ordered the Marcopper Mining Corp. to pay damages claimed by persons affected by the country’s worst mining disaster.

READ: Marinduque court orders compensation for victims of 1993 mining disaster

The mining firm was directed to pay P200,000 as temperate damages, P100,000 moral damages, and P1 million as exemplary damages to at least 30 plaintiffs.

But the bishop called it only a ‘small victory’, adding that more cases against Marcopper remain pending for many years now.

“There is still a long way to go for a total victory,” Maralit said.”But this small victory gives courage for all those who advocate for environmental justice.”