June 21, 2009 in Cordillera
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY ― Long years of extractive corporate mining of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) caused the subsidence and sinking in Mankayan as early as the 1980′s, according to the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA).
In a press statement, CPA said the erosion and continuous sinking in the community of Aurora Street, in Barangay Sapid, Mankayan is the latest and the worst case of land subsidence that has occured in the municipality.
In August 1998, several houses were destroyed also in Aurora St., after the area sunk by more than three meters. Parts of the Mankayan Central School (MCS) collapsed and was buried then.
The same year, five houses, many farms and portions of the Mankayan-Cervantes Road were washed-out after the sinking of about 14 hectares near the catchment basin of Lepanto’s mine tailings dam 5A, CPA added.
The next year, the MCS two-storey building collapsed entirely and 50 more houses were destroyed. In 2000, ground subsidence affected more and more areas including Tubpak, Bulalacao and Sapid. Large ground cracks formed continuously on the Mankayan-Cervantes Road.
Last April, a portion of the slaughter house in Barangay Poblacion Mankayan sunk after a large crack on the ground occured.
“LCMC and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) attributed these environmental calamities to naturally
occurring events such as movements of fault lines and even heaven’s will.
But the indigenous communities
know for a fact that it is the years of underground bulk mining that has caused the land subsidence and
sinking and these are only hastened by natural phenomena such as strong rains and typhoons,” CPA stressed.
It added that with climate change affecting our lives at present, the tailings dam 5A is in danger of collapsing again.
CPA said the communities around the area where LCMC is operating are obviously turning into a no man’s land. The worst scenario is that Mankayan and nearby areas will be wiped off the Cordillera map forever.
CPA said LCMC should be held accountable for the series of sinking events and its arrogant act of secretly dumping asbestos from its head office in Makati City in Sapid Barangay.
CPA also said the company should be responsible for the rehabilitation of the permanent and irreparable damage it has brought about in Mankayan and compensate the victims affercted by the sinking and erosion.
CPA appealed to all concerned individuals, organizations and sectors for humanitarian aid for the people affected by the continuous land subsidence and to help save Mankayan from total destruction.
Meanwhile, Lepanto Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Union-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-NAFLU-KMU) President Manuel Binhaon, Jr. said the union will pass a resolution to request a more thorough investigation by the MGB-DENR to determine the real cause of the landslide. Binhaon said that the public should be informed accurately if the slides are caused by the mining operations.
Binhaon also said that the union is always ready to give further assistance to the affected people especially to the school. Many mine workers’ children are studying in the damaged schools. # nordis.net