Legarda on Semirara Mining Tragedy: Accountabilities Must Be Established

February 19, 2013

As search and rescue operations continue for the mining workers trapped in a mine of Semirara Mining Corporation in Antique, Senator Loren Legarda said that accountabilities need to be established within and outside of government.

“Safety in coal mining is always an issue. There are environmental as well as health and safety implications to the workers. Semirara Mining Corporation was given a license to operate an open pit mining facility, but did they comply with occupational and safety standards?” asked Legarda.

On February 13, a landslide occurred in the Panian pit area of Semirara Mining Corporation’s mine in Antique province. Of the 13 miners trapped, three were rescued alive, five were retrieved dead, and five are still missing.

“Search and retrieval operations need to be carried out without let-up and assistance should be extended to the families of the victims,” said Legarda.

“Meanwhile, there are three agencies that exercise regulatory control and oversight functions over coal mining companies—the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). How are these agencies enforcing safety standards on site? I hope this is not again a case whereby you see government regulations being reviewed and enforced only because lives have been lost,” Legarda concluded.