Press Release
April 27, 2011

Legarda: Gov't Must Ensure Safety of Mining Communities

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the government must ensure the safety of mining communities through appropriate and well-implemented policies to avoid disasters such as the recent landslide in Compostela Valley.

In filing Senate Resolution 444, Legarda called on the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to conduct an inquiry into government regulatory policies in landslide- and other natural hazard-prone mining areas.

Last April 22, a landslide that was triggered by heavy rains occurred in a small-scale mining community in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, sweeping shanties at the foot of the mountain, burying at least 21 people alive, and killing at least eight miners who were buried beneath the mud.

The Senator noted that the affected area had been declared a danger zone due to possible landslides. However, it has been reported that hundreds of poor, small-scale miners had been living on the area before the disaster and had ignored government warnings.

She said that the government, particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, must properly implement the provisions of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The law dictates that the environmental quality and carrying capacity of a proposed mining area must be properly assessed.

"There is a need to review the implementation of government policies which seek to assure that mining operations do not pose threats to lives, homes and properties. It must be ensured that landslide susceptibility and hazard maps are effectively used in regulating small-scale and large-scale mining activities to prevent the occurrence of environmental disasters," Legarda concluded.

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