Apex Mining cause landslide in Davao de Oro
The people of Davao de Oro (Compostela Valley) continue to suffer the deadly effects of destructive mining in the province. On the night of February 6, there was a massive landslide in Masara, Maco in a community covered by the open-pit mining operations of Apex Mining Co., Inc.
Three buses containing the company’s workers, as well as the barangay hall and countless houses, were buried in the ground. From the estimated 86 people on the bus, only 45 have been rescued from the rubble, while six died. The number excludes those buried in their houses. About 86 families, or 600 individuals, were forcibly evacuated from the area.
According to barangay officials, the landslide was most likely triggered by the heavy rains in the past week due to the shear line and trough of the low pressure area. Despite this, Apex Mining continued its operations. It continued operating twenty-four hours a day, with workers coming in three shifts.
Apex Mining is owned by Enrique Razon and is being ran by Luis Sarmiento. Among its investors are the big compradors Ramon Y. Sy, Walter W. Brown, and Dennis A. Uy. It was previously owned by a multinational mining company based in the United Kingdom, before it was bought by a Malaysian company, which sold it to Razon. The company earned ₱2.3 billion in the first nine months of 2023.
The people of Maco have long been bearing the destruction caused by Apex Mining’s open-pit mining in the area. In 2018, the land collapsed near the mine where 279 families were forced to evacuate. Before this, the company’s operations were suspended twice.
In 2014, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau imposed a 1-month suspension on the company after its tailings was dumped in community waters. In 2016, Apex was one of 20 mining operations suspended by then-DENR secretary Gina Lopez for its failure to ensure the safety of the communities surrounding it, and the damage its operations caused to the environment.
Mine and military
Compostela Valley is teeming with CAFGU detachments and military camps, which serve as guards and protectors of mine operations. The 66th IB has its headquarters here, as well as other units of the 48th IB, and now the 25th IB and 1001st IBde who pretend to “assist” in the rescue effort.
Such military units have a long record of killings and other human rights violations. Their victims include Marcelo Monterona, whom they murdered in January 2014, in front of his store. Monterona was a council member of Indug Katawhan, the organization that led the denouncement against Apex Mining for the harm it has caused to the peasant and Lumad communities. In 2013, the organization pushed Apex to pay ₱3.6 million in damages and repair damaged infrastructure after Typhoon Pablo hit their community.
In 2022, the military declared Compostela Valley “insurgency-free”, after several years of relentless and bloody campaigns of repression and “surrender” of civilians.