The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted a series of regional consultations on the project, Development of Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) in the Philippines in Pampanga, Davao, Cebu, and Quezon City from September to November 2017. Stakeholders representing government agencies, various federations of small-scale miners, local government units (LGUs), and key sectors from all over the country trooped in droves to contribute to the discussion.
The consultations were designed to get a full picture of mercury contamination, including its extent, existing policies or laws, and experiences from projects doing similar activities, and to secure commitments of support from key partners for the MIA Project.
Visits to the municipality of Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte, Compostela Valley, and Palawan Quicksilver Mines in Palawan – areas that have been known to have mercury-contaminated sites – were also made to perform ocular inspection and conduct interviews with communities living in or around contaminated sites and LGUs.
Preliminary results of the assessment reveal that residents had some knowledge on the dangers of mercury to human health. However, they reasoned out that these should not be a cause for alarm saying that most of their acquaintances who were exposed to mercury were living long lives and were still in good health. Generally, they were more concerned about their livelihood than their health. For instance, residents inside the buffer zone of Palawan Quicksilver Mines who had been advised to relocate were worried that the distance of the relocation site from school and workplace would be not be optimal. Meanwhile, those involved in artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) claimed that their families would suffer from starvation first before they would die of mercury contamination if they would not use mercury in extracting gold for their livelihood. (MIA Project/ PMU)