The Marcopper Tragedy, legacy of the Marcos Sr. dictatorship

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The decision of the Regional Trial Court of Marinduque last May 16 ordering the Marcopper Mining Corporation to pay up to ₱10 million in damages for the 1993 mine spill, can be regarded as a victory. However, no amount of money can fix the repeated and long-term destruction wrought by the mining company on the people of Marinduque.

The court decision arose from the complaint by 30 individuals over the company’s damaged dam which caused flooding and damage to the livelihood of residents of two villages in Mogpog, Marinduque. This was followed by the bigger tragedy following the destruction of the company’s mine tailings dam in March 24, 1996, which resulted in at least 200 million tons of poisonous chemicals spilling into the Boac River. This incident, considered as one of the worst in the country’s history, has long-term effects on the lives and livelihood of Marinduqueños.

The tragedies caused by Marcopper are among the legacies of the Marcos dictatorship which people continue to suffer from. The company was established in 1969 using funds from the Asian Development Bank which then owned 40%. In 1975, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. allowed the company to throw waste into the Calancan Bay despite strong resistance of the island’s residents. Through his cronies, the dictator controlled 49% of the corporation. Using state power, he suppressed the people’s condemnation and resistance against the mine. He suspended environmental regulations despite the clear damage that it will bring to nearby communities.

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The Marcopper Tragedy, legacy of the Marcos Sr. dictatorship