Bantay Kalikasan

Verde Island Passage Might be the Next Mining Casualty

Ana Junio
August 6, 2015

In February 2013, five miners died due to landslide in Antique where Semirara Mining Corporation, the largest coal mine in the country and the largest coal supplier in Southeast Asia, is located. They temporary closed the operations but eventually secured the permits to continue operating. Two years after, July of this year, six miners died because of the same incident. A total of eleven miners gave up their lives in the service of the said mining company.

Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao appeals to the national government to close the mining corporation to halt the future dangers it may bring.

“I am really planning na i-recommend ko ang closure ng area na ito kasi dalawang beses na itong nangyari eh. Same spot, same incident, at hindi na po ito pwedeng mangyari ulit,” Gov. Cadiao said in her interview in ABS-CBN Bandila last July 17, 2015.

Despite the quarterly monitoring by the Department of Energy and the constant reassurance of Semirara Mining Corporation, accidents still continue to happen. Typhoons and continuous raining caused the structure and land within the Semirara property to collapse, which caused the unfortunate passing of some of their miners.

While Governor Cadiao pleads to stop Semirara from causing more harm, another threat of putting up a coal plant this time in Lobo, Batangas is being posed. Not only that, MRL-Egerton has also secured a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) for the extraction of gold through open-pit mining and the use of cyanide-based process. Such mining processes pose serious risks not only to the environment but also to the health of residents in Lobo, Batangas and nearby communities. Nonetheless, applications for such MPSAs were initially approved by the Vice-Mayor of Lobo together with the Sangguniang Bayan. According to several residents of Lobo, Batangas, the MPSA was granted without consulting the community who will be directly affected by the possible mining operations.

Lobo, Batangas is where the Verde Island is located. It is just a portion in the long stretch called the Verde Island Passage, which extends through the coasts of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Batangas. According to the American Smithsonian Institute, the Verde Island Passage is the “center of the center” of the world’s marine biodiversity and is home to dolphins, sea turtles, humphead wrasses, giant groupers, giant clams, flying fish, luminous planktons and some 300 species of corals – considered one of the biggest concentrations of corals in the whole world.

The Coalition for the Preservation of the Verde Island Passage is a confluence of Church, Local Government Units, Businesses, Academe, Judiciary, Media, Non-Government Organizations and Communities who are committed to ensure that Lobo, Batangas and the entire Verde Island Passage will not become another Antique.

The Coalition is supported by more than 10,000 signatures of people who are also against Mining and Coal operations and online petition on signed by nearly 10,000 people as of the moment.

To join the Coalition, like the Facebook page: SAVE VERDE ISLAND PASSAGE, NO TO MINING IN LOBO.