More than 100 people, mostly mining workers, were killed last February 6 in a landslide disaster in a mining community in Maco, Davao de Oro (formerly Compostela Valley). This incident is the latest in a number of similar tragedies in the province which is one of the country’s biggest mining centers. The landslide occurred in Barangay Masara which is part of the area of mining operations of the Apex Mining Company, a company owned by Marcos crony Enrique Razon, one of the biggest bourgeois compradors and among the top billionaires, according to a statement by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The Apex Mining Corporation, the CPP reported, operates open pit mines in the area. Zone 1, where the tragedy happened, is a community of workers employed by Apex Mining. According to reports, despite dangerous conditions resulting from weeks of rains, no precautions were made to evacuate the community, and work in the Apex mines were not suspended.

In 2016, the operations of the Apex Mining was ordered suspended by the late Sec. Gina Lopez of the GRP’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, because of the dangers posed by the destructive mining operations of Apex to the people and the environment.

Pro-people environmental advocates and progressive political groups have called for a probe of the Maco landslide disaster and condemned the continued operations of destructive imperialist mining companies in the Philippines. They said that the Maco incident is a stark reminder of how companies have joined forces with complicit government agencies to the detriment of local communities. They noted that these environmental disasters have all taken place under the framework of the Mining Act of 1995, “which has historically provided little space for communities and civil society to assert their right to a clean, healthy, and safe environment against the profiteering of multinational companies and local oligarchs”.

Despite Marcos’ defense, the CPP said, Razon cannot escape responsibility for the deaths of 100 in Maco, mostly workers or people working for his company.

The CPP also held the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) equally responsible for the Maco disaster, for serving as security force of the Apex Mining company. Gross human rights violations have been committed by the AFP in Maco in the course of suppressing communities opposed to the Apex mining operations, especially against Lumad people of Mindanao.

The CPP said that for decades, the Lumad people in Mindanao, other indigenous people and peasants in various parts of the country, have been subjected to violence, oppressed, driven away and robbed of their ancestral land.

“The Maco tragedy underscores the need for the Filipino people to intensify their struggle against foreign mining and plunder of the country’s environment and wealth, from the mountains to ocean.

“The Apex Mining tragedy will certainly be not the last in the face of the Marcos regime’s effort to swing the country’s door open to foreign investments, which will continue to pave the way for devastating and plunderous operations of profit-hungry capitalists. Multinational companies in mining, agriculture, energy, tourism, and infrastructure are now swamping different provinces nationwide. They will flood in further if Marcos succeeds in amending the constitution to open the door to foreign plunderers,” the CPP emphasized.

“The revolutionary armed struggle is the most effective way of defending the environment. The New People’s Army has repeatedly proved its determination and strength to sanction or eventually drive away foreign environmental plunderers and in shooting the fatal spear against the pro-imperialist reactionary state. In the face of the Marcos regime’s efforts to fully open the country to foreign mining companies, it is imperative for the NPA to strengthen to defend the masses and the environment,” the CPP stressed.