LAST Tuesday, March 24, marked the 13th anniversary of the Marcopper mining disaster that choked the Boac River with tons of toxic mine tailings, instantly sapping life out of one of Marinduque’s major waterways. Thirteen years later, the toxic legacy of Marcopper Mining Corporation in the island province continues to threaten the lives, health, and livelihood of Marinduqueños as million tons more of mine wastes lie in Mogpog River and Calancan Bay.

Mogpog residents living near the contaminated river, as we reported in November last year, have since complained of chronic skin lesions and neurologic illnesses.

Yet no clean-up plan has been drawn up to this day for Mogpog River, or even Calancan Bay, even as Placer Dome, the Canadian mining firm that once owned a 40-percent share in Marcopper, abandoned years ago its responsibility to rehabilitate Boac River.

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With apparently no one, not even the national government, to turn to, the Mogpog folk are relying on themselves to prevent another disaster — flooding caused by the heavily silted Mogpog River. Just a month ago, the riverine community of Barangay Bocboc went under water as the river bed has risen to the barangay’s elevation level.

Carrying shovels and sacks, and with help from residents of other Marinduque towns (Boac, Gasan, Buenavista, and Sta. Cruz) mobilized by the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC), the people of Mogpog fashioned a temporary dike out of sand bags to fortify the river bank. In less than three hours, thanks also to the local police and military who came to lend a helping hand, the sandbagging operation was over. They intend to do the same for all identified vulnerable areas in the village along the Mogpog RIver.

(The series of photos above are courtesy of Buck Pago/AKP Images.)

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