Friday, March 22, 2013

EDC, Philex, Semirara: Fairness and Consistency on Mining and Environment Violation / Penalties

When I first heard of Gina Lopez spoke at the Visayas Blogging Summit on why people should take a stand on mining, I was impressed on how she got most of us teary-eyed. But an hour or two after her talk, I was confused. Nowhere in her talk did she discussed that their family was also into mining. Furthermore, the impression I got was her passion on this issue was sparked by the death of environmentalist Gerry Ortega.


But when news broke out yesterday that former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes was cleared by the Court of Appeals, it reminded me of a recent news about one of Lopez group owned energy company - EDC - that their Leyte site also experienced landslides.

What was noticeable is the lack of spotlight from government officials, local Leyte government, and politicians giving their take on it in comparison to other similar incidents. I can't help but wonder if the observation of Ducky Paredes was true - are they getting special treatment? Although there were news on people being honored for helping out in the search operations.

The perceived slow response from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (who just finished its investigation) or Pollution Adjudication Board makes me wonder how come the landslide that happened in a coal mining pit on Semirara Island immediately benefited action from the Department of Energy, on orders of President Benigno Aquino III for an immediate suspension of Semirara Coal and Mining Company.

Although to the Department of Labor and Employment's credit, at least there was some action taken in the form of work stoppage.

Based on what I read, EDC, who lost 14 workers and reportedly to have spilled Boron into a river, did not immediately got a suspension. Unlike Philex Mining who got hit with an immediate suspension of operations with over a billion pesos in fines, for an accident in the past. The amount of effort Philex Mining took to gain that confidence back was a lot.

It is sad when politicians, media, and the church meddle on mining issues in a way that is not fair, consistent, and just. Further sad is when environmentalist groups become inconsistent as well on which mining issue they will speak up and criticize.

Will the 2013 elections change that? Who among our Senator candidates are committed to fairness and consistency of penalties? I don't know.

How does all of these news and quietness of Gina Lopez affect her advocacy stand?