By Charissa M. Luci-Atienza
A woman partylist lawmaker wants to put in place an indefinite moratorium on any and all mining activities over the entire province of Marinduque.
MATA partylist Rep. Tricia Velasco-Catera filed House Bill 6384 seeking to prohibit all mining operations in Marinduque, making it a mining-free zone.
Violators of the proposed Act shall be penalized with six to 12 years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from P100,000 to P500,000.
Catera laments that as of today, the inhabitants of the province are still suffering from the effects of the 1996 Marcopper mining disaster, wherein 1.6 million cubic meters of tailings were released along Makulapnit-Boac river system.
“There is no solution that can erase the damage that has occured in Marinduque. The people simply want their environment cleaned up, compensation for their suffering, and assurance that this will not happen again,” she said.
In 2005, the provincial government filed a $100-million class suit against Marcopper and the parent company, Barrick Gold Corp., but the Nevada State District Court threw out a case a decade later.
“Until now justice remains elusive for the victims of the mining disaster. Not a single centavo had been paid as compensation for what was tagged as the country’s worst mining disaster. Negotiations are still ongoing at present with Barrick Gold on the compensation of damages to the province and its people, but an acceptable deal for the victims still does not appear on the immediate horizon,” said Catera, sister of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.