Bantay Kita Statement on the Gold Mine Workers and Residents Buried Due to the Landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro
On Wednesday, February 7th 2024, at approximately 7:40 PM a devastating landslide struck the gold-mining mountain villages in Maco, Davao de Oro in barangays Elizalde, Mainit and Masara which buried homes and two buses carrying over two dozen passengers. Maco’s disaster agency has reported (as of writing) 11 deaths, 110 missing persons and 1,166 families evacuated from their homes. Approximately 31 residents have survived with injuries.
Standing in unwavering solidarity with all community members affected by this catastrophe, Bantay Kita believes in holding government agencies and mining companies accountable to adhere to the utmost standards of disaster risk management and hazard assessments in mining areas. In the wake of escalating natural calamities, exacerbated by the climate crisis, and further intensified by extractive industry operations, we call on mining companies and government officials to place paramount importance on community safety, protection and safeguarding of climate mitigating ecosystems.
The impacted region was close to a mining site that employed people in three shifts to run its 24- hour operations. Mine workers from APEX Mining Co. Inc. Maco Gold Mine have been identified as amongst the missing persons. The mine workers were waiting to be transported home in two buses when the landslide struck and buried the coaches.
The landslide in Maco was induced by easterlies, torrential rains and flash floods occurring in Davao Region, SOCSKSARGEN, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Southern Leyte, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. The mountainous terrain, heavy rainfall, widespread deforestation and blasting operations in the mining area are key triggers to landslides. Landslides in Masara were also triggered in 2008 and 2013. Another landslide happened five days before the big tragedy, however mining operations continued.
Indigenous and local communities hosting large-scale mining continue to bear the brunt of natural disasters from climate catastrophe. In this case, indigenous communities of the Mansaka tribe are amongst the most vulnerable as the community faces forcible evacuation due to this landslide.
We further urge government agencies and mining companies to undertake Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) approaches to hazard mapping which enables the mapping of multiple scenarios for a particular hazard under climate change. The Probabilistic Risk Assessment Approach to hazard mapping has been recommended in 2017 by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Philippine government through the 2017-2022 and 2023-2028 Philippine Development Plans and the 2019 Climate Change Commission resolution, yet implementation has not been effectively disseminated nationwide.