Originally authored on October 4, 2015
A paradise beyond Boracay before the neoliberal policies where blindly implemented by the government. Semirara, one of the three major islands of Caluya in Antique, is home to Panian Mine, the largest and only open-pit coal mine in operation since 1999 in the country. A huge investment by DMCI in a rapidly changing climate both in politics and biosphere. A place where extracted industries are placed at the heart of national development policy, corruption, elite capture of wealth, toxic waste dumping, tailings leaks, labor abuses, blatant land grabs in cahoots with local government agencies are the norm.
In return, large-scale mining industry has contributed barely 1-2% a year to the country’s GDP – a substantial share of which goes to line the profit margins of big players, and less than 1% of overall employment. It has done little to advance national industrialization or sustainable long-term economic development. Ironically, regions dependent on revenues on mining tend to be THE COUNTRY’S POOREST AND MOST UNDERDEVELOPED. How ironic.
The whole dire history of the country’s mining industry, including landslides and collapses of mining sites, clearly weakened after decades of open-pit mining, were often blamed by companies on nature (force majeure). They fit into a broader, global pattern of land grabbing and unrestrained resource extraction that happen at the expense of local populations and its indigenous people. This is the reflection of government priorities, as evidenced in the steady liberalization of mining industry in the Philippines. Do they come into terms about the relative merits of fossil fuel?
* – credits to the owner/s for the pictures