By Joey Natividad
NAGA CITY (BicolToday.com/26-April-2012) – Environmental groups, Pangataman-Bikol and Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance, blamed a mining company and the government environment department over the recent spillage of mine tailings in Bagongbayan, Panganiban town, Camarines Norte.
The groups, on the observance of Earth Day, named Johnson Gold Mining Corporation as responsible for the collapse of the mines-tailing dam that resulted in the flow of contaminated and toxic-laden water to the homes of villagers.
They also cited mining in Lamba, Legazpi City, where perlite mining has been polluting the creeks flowing to Albay Gulf, thus adding farther the contamination already coming from Rapu-Rapu mining.
Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance said hills have disappeared in the barangay due to quarrying. A milky white substance flows into the creeks from the mine site. Like silt from Rapu-Rapu, the substance will clog the gills of fish and the pores of corrals to cause their death, eventually further depriving fishermen of their last hope of rehabilitating Albay Gulf.
Mining operations and other so-called development projects have pockmarked the Bicol Region from Larap, Camarines Norte to Matnog, Sorsogon; from Aroroy, Masbate to Panganiban, Catanduanes.
“There is no point in observing Earth Day when the environment is continuously assaulted by the greed of a few; when the innocent and the poor suffer while the executives of mining companies and government officials are safe in their air-conditioned offices. Environmental laws, regulations, and policies are thus mere tokens of lip service,” said Professor Joel Batanes, president of Pangataman-Bikol.
Both groups blamed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the President Noynoy Administration, urging them “to stop paying lip service to environmental protection and become a genuine defender of Mother Nature.”
Virgilio S. Perdigon, Jr., spokesperson of Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance, said: “As we experience such assaults on the environment, the observance of Earth Day becomes a meaningless exercise. The true face of the destroyers of the environment is unmasked again even as they contrive devious machinations to make the public believe that they adhere to “best practices,” “responsible mining” and “sustainable development.”
Pangataman-Bikol, Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance, together with other environmental civil society groups, call for a mining moratorium and the enactment of People’s Mining Bill. BicolToday.com
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