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Philippine unions call for thorough investigation of deadly landslide

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16 February, 2024Philippine trade unions are urging the Philippine government to thoroughly investigate the tragic landslide earlier this month that took the lives of 92 miners and villagers in the Southern Philippines. The government’s rescue team is still searching for 36 missing people.

In the evening of 6 February, a landslide hit a vehicle terminal fetching miners from Masara village to the Maco gold mine, located 500 meters away. The landslide followed two weeks of heavy monsoon rain in the mountain area. 

Apex Mining, who operates the mine, claim that the landslide happened outside the mine operations area. According to a press release, the company says that 62 of its mining employees are safe and that they are trying to locate another 45 employees.

“The deaths and injuries are work-related considering that some workers were about to go home when the landslide happened, affecting those involved in the 24-hour operation of the mining site. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) must investigate to prevent future occurrences.

“The government must ensure that mining companies strictly adhere to occupational health and safety standards as the Philippines has ratified ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines,” 

says Joel Balaus, chairperson of FFW-Trade Federation 4.

“The recent landslide tragedy underscores the devastating consequences of large-scale open-pit mining to people and environment. It highlights the urgent need for accountability from both the government and Apex Mining, for their failure to ensure the safety and well-being of miners and local communities. MWAP stands in solidarity with environmental defenders in opposing large-scale mining, protecting the environment, and upholding the rights of peasants, workers, and the people.” 

Said Julius Carandang, general secretary of Metalworkers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP).

“From the bottom of our hearts, our condolences to the bereaved of our fellow miners in Davao de Oro. We feel the pain. May we continue to be strong. Associated Labour Union (ALU-TUCP) locals will conduct an aid drive to the affected mining community this month.”

Said Sofronio "Ka Undo" Mataro, regional vice president of ALU Southern Mindanao regional office in coordination with the local affiliates in Southern Mindanao.

“IndustriALL Global Union stands in solidarity with the miners and families affected by the tragic landslide. It was stated by the Mines and Geoscience Board (MGB) that the site had been declared a danger zone. Apex Mining should be responsible for ensuring the safety of the mine workers and the people in the community as they continue to operate in this area.”

Said Ramon Certeza, IndustriALL regional secretary for South East Asia.

In 2023, publicly listed Apex Mining produced 24,664 ounces of gold at the Maco mine site.

Photo: Cassidy K. / ILO