Press Release
February 15, 2013


Sen. Chiz Escudero sought an immediate and exhaustive probe by concerned agencies into the collapse of the coal mine structure on Semirara Island that resulted in the death of five miners with five still missing as of Friday morning.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said government resources now should be directed at locating the missing miners in the collapsed tunnel.

He also called on Semirara Mining Corp. to exhaust all efforts in the recovery of the trapped miners.

"I call on the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to investigate the unfortunate incident. We should find out its cause," Escudero said.

He added that the probe should look into any possible violation of environmental and safety regulations which may have resulted in the accident.

Escudero said he is reserving judgment on the incident until after the agencies release the results of their investigation.

The senator nevertheless noted that disasters in mining sites is a recurring tragedy in the country.

Just recently, two accidents occurred last year in Paracale, Camarines Norte in 2012, a gold-rush community in Escudero's native Bicol region where three miners died.

Escudero said the safety of miners should be a paramount concern of the government.

Mining companies should also have the best interest of their workers and the community where they operate in mind, Escudero said.

"The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should immediately look into the incident particularly since Semirara's operations are considered large scale and should have all the safeguards installed in it to prevent any accident primarily cave-ins," Escudero said.

Semirara, the country's largest producer of sub-bituminous coal in the Philippines, is majority owned by conglomerate DMCI Holdings Inc.

Semirara Mining resident manager George San Pedro said a section of the west wall of the Panian pit in the Semirara mine collapsed at 11:55 p.m.

Escudero said Semirara's operations were supposed to be open pit mining and the accident involved a tunnel, which makes the incident very questionable.

President Benigno Aquino III has directed Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to provide him updates on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Escudero said the probe into the accident should be directed towards the crafting of more regulations on safety precautions to ensure that such a tragedy will be prevented from recurring.

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