Youths demand justice for Apex Mining victims of Masara landslide

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Youths gathered at the Freedom Park, Davao City yesterday, February 20, to demand justice for the victims of the landslide in Masara, Maco, Davao de Oro. The protest was led by Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao Region, and other progressive groups.

They said Apex Mining Corp’s decades-long, massive and destructive mining as the reason for the disaster. Based on latest reports, over 100 bodies have been recovered from the collapsed ground, 32 were injured and many remain missing. Some 1,600 people were forced to evacuate their communities due to the disaster.

Large portions of Davao de Oro are declared a “geohazard area” for mining. Despite this, local officials, conservation agencies and the reactionary government conspired to grant permits to foreign companies, and their local big bourgeoisie partners, to mine in the province.

“The statement absolving Apex Mining and Mines, with the Geosciences Bureau claiming the company had nothing to do with the incident and that only natural causes are to blame are all big lies,” said Anakbayan-SMR. Apex’s operations in the area began in 1970, and this company plundered the resources in Maco, it said. “It has plundered more than 20,000 hectares of logging concessions, producing 8,500 cubic meters of wood per year,” according to the group.

Its mining operation also produced 200,000 tons of mine tailings. These toxic wastes are recklessly dumped into the Masara River, which flows into the Hijo River. “The Masara River is source of drinking water of neighboring communities, but is now too contaminated,” according to the group.

In addition to previously held permits, the Marcos regime in 2023 gave expanded the scope of the destructive operations of Apex mining. Apex is owned by Enrique Razon, one of the biggest Marcos-favored comprador bourgeoisie. He bought the Asia Alliance Mining Resources Corporation and obtained the permit to mine 20,000 hectares of highlands in the province.

“This means Apex mining has been despoiling Maco for over 50 years,” according to the youth group. The landslide covering nine hectares and reaching 700 meters high, was not only due to the heavy rains but most of all by the unrestrained mining in Maco for a long time.

“Apex must be held accountable and the Marcos Jr regime should not obscure the accountability of big mining companies like Apex because this is not an isolated case,” according to the group.

“It is a great offense against the people to allow those in power to plunder the remaining mineral reserves (of the country). Worse, with Marcos’ charter change that will give foreigners the right to 100% ownnership, the country’s environment and resources will be a permanent milking cow of foreign mining companies, as well as of the local ruling classes.”

AB: Youths demand justice for Apex Mining victims of Masara landslide