Marinduque must be represented by Canadian lawyers in mining lawsuits

By Rey Panaligan | Source: Manila Bulletin

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Marinduque has rejected the move of Gov. Carmencita O. Reyes to re-engage the services of an American law firm to represent the province in its case set to be filed in Canada against two mining firms.

Instead, the majority members of the Sanggunian, together with the members of the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC), proposed the hiring of Canadian lawyers to represent the province, a move supported by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Q. Velasco.

Marinduque is filing a case against Placer Dome, Inc. and Barrick Gold Corporation for the alleged environmental damage caused to the province by the operation of Marcopper Mining Corporation, particularly in the towns of Boac and Mogpog.

In 2005, the province of Marinduque filed a case in Nevada, United States, against Placer Dome and Barrick Gold in connection with the damage caused to the province by the operation of Marcopper Mining.

But the Nevada Supreme Court dismissed the case and ruled that the proper venue is either Canada or the Philippines.

Marcopper Mining was partly owned by Placer Dome.

In 2006, Barrick Gold, the largest gold mining firm in the world, acquired the majority shares of Placer Dome. Both mining firms are based in Canada.

Records show that in 1996, Marcopper Mining was involved in what was described as the largest mining disasters in the Philippines when the drainage tunnel of large pit fractured and discharged toxic mine waste into the river.

Residents of several villages were evacuated and agricultural crops were destroyed and farm animals died.

In a letter to Vice Gov. Romulo Bacorro Jr. as head of the Sangguniang Panlalawign, Governor Reyes requested authority to renew the province’s contract with the American law firm Diamond McCarthy for legal services in its case to be filed in Canada.

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