Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Wednesday welcomed the Marinduque Regional Trial Court’s decision ordering Marcopper Mining Corporation to pay damages to those affected when the firm’s siltation dam burst in 1993, killing the Mogpog River and flooding nearby communities with toxic residues of heavy metals and silt.
At the same time, Velasco said the government must continue to exact accountability from Marcopper for the consequences of its irresponsible mining practices that have caused irreparable damage to the environment and to the people of Marinduque.
“Three years later in 1996, a much worse disaster took place when a fracture in the drainage tunnel of Marcopper’s Taipan pit spilled more than 1.6 million cubic meters of toxic mine tailings, flooding villages and poisoning the Boac River,” Velasco said in a statement.
“This recent court ruling is very welcome and long overdue. It is a major victory for the people of Marinduque against the company responsible for one of the worst mining and environmental disasters in Philippine history,” he said.
But the quest for justice for all victims is far from over, the House chief stressed. In fact, in 2020, authorities discovered about 100 barrels containing what they described as “toxic substances” in Marcopper’s old storage facility, he said.
“It is regrettable that even after more than two and a half decades, we are still hounded by the Marcopper tragedy that caused the biological death of Boac River, killing the livelihood of thousands of farmers, fisherfolk and other residents of at least 20 villages who are dependent on the river,” Velasco said.
“To this day, people in the area continue to suffer the effects of the mining tragedy as evidenced by health problems, making it all the more imperative to come up with stringent and long-term environmental solutions,” he added.