Dárlán Páléncìá Bárcélón
Rapu-Rapu, Albay, [06.18.17] – The pro-mining hype that mining industry will going to provide livelihood and revenue to a mining host municipality was proven to be a hoax in the lives of Repu-Rapunhons, as the the Rapu-Rapu Mineral Incorporated [RRMI] left a tax obligations unpaid to the local government unit of Rapu Rapu amounting to PhP20 million, Mayor Ronald A. Galicia said.
In an interview by the Philippine Examiner with Mayor Galicia over the weekend, he expressed his aversion on the unsettled obligations to the local government for not securing a mayor’s permit, since the mining operation was undertaken in our municipality, he said.
This is why this huge amount has accumulated over the years as they [ RRMI ] never secured a mayor’s permit in their years of operations, the mayor averred.
In the same vein, Mayor Galicia also admitted that until now, he is never furnished any formal information regarding the post mining rehabilitation program and the actual status of the mine rehabilitation fund.
“They never informed us here on the present status, even when I assumed my post as the Mayor of this town, they never allowed me to conduct ocular inspection inside the mine site for it still guarded,” he lamented.
I can not do anything about it because the members of the mine rehabilation council don’t recognize us, Galicia concluded.
The present status of the stalled implementation of the mine rehabilation program is never explained to the affected residents of Barangay Binosowan, Pagcolbon and Malobago nor to the local government unit as of posting time.
The mining and processing started in April 2005 under the Australian firm Lafayette Limited, but the operation was suspended six months later after two heavy cyanide laden spills were released into water bodies, causing the ecological death of rivers and fish stocks.
In 2008, the Australian mining firm was suspended in the Australian Stock exchange market and the management went to another Lafayette’s subsidiary corporations until its mining operation was decommissioned in 2013.
The supposed to be a promised showcase mine after the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the Rapu Rapu polymetallic mine, located in Barangay Binosowan, Pagcolbon and Malobago has covered 4,538.7955 hectares, has turned an island paradise into a wasteland – due to the hampered implementation of the mine rehabilitation program.
According to a study by IBON, however, mineral extraction and production often incur significant social and environmental costs which in fact fall disproportionately on the poor. In 2009, mining had the highest poverty incidence among industry groups at 48.71%. This was the highest poverty incidence since 1988, even surpassing the agriculture sector, which has historically topped poverty incidence across industries.
Among the biggest mining operations in the country are the Taganito Mining Corp in Surigao; Nickel Asia in Eastern Samar; Sagittarius Mines Incorporated in South Cotabato, Filminera Resources Corp. in Masbate and TVI Pacific Inc in Zamboanga del Sur.
Yet, IBON noted that official 2015 poverty statistics show that regions hosting these mining activities are the poorest, next only to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Poverty incidence among individuals in Caraga (Region XIII) is the second highest in the country at 39.1 percent. The Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) posted the third highest poverty incidence at 38.7% followed by Soccsksargen (Region XII) at 37.3%, Bicol (Region V) at 36.0% and Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) at 33.9 percent.
The island municipality of Rapu-Rapu, now shares the economic dislocations and environmental degradation with the rest of the host mining areas in the country.