Miner found dead

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Monday, March 3, 2014


THE body of a miner who got buried after a coal mine in Danao City gave way was retrieved yesterday, following a 26-hour search and rescue operation.

His father Joselito, 42, told Sun.Star Cebu that Melvin Landero, 22, was smashed by big wood trunks and rocks.

Rescuers pulled Melvin out before 9 a.m. from the mine tunnel owned by SKI Energy Resources Inc. (Seri) Mining in Barangay Dungga.

“Wala na siya mahitsura (We could barely recognize him),” the father said.

Danao City Mayor Ramon “Nito” Durano III visited the mining site yesterday. He said the miners’ safety may have been compromised when the management decided to pay them based on how much coal they could extract.

“Pakyaw-pakyaw na man gud. Mao ang mga tawo maninguha ug kuha bahala ug di maayo ang sitwasyon (The miners tried to get as much, even if the conditions were no longer good),” he told reporters.

The mayor also met with the Department of Energy (DOE) team at the mine site as they started the investigation. “They suspended all the operations of the mining company while the investigation is ongoing. I asked them to give me updates,” Durano said.

Also yesterday, Rep. Joseph Ace Durano (Cebu Province, fifth district) said the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) should look into the outsourcing practices of the mining sector and see if there is a need to strengthen regulations and enforcement.

Congressman Durano, the mayor’s son, said that whatever the outcome of the investigation on the Seri mining accident in Dungga, Danao City, Dole should make sure the affected miners and their families are properly compensated.

Grim wait

The dead miner’s father, Joselito, said it took time to retrieve the body because miners had to clear the area and ensure it wouldn’t collapse again.

The portion where the cave-in occurred last Saturday was 400 meters away from the main entrance.

Landero, who was the eldest in a brood of five, started working in the mine three weeks before the accident. He was under Virlo Construction and Development Corp., a
subcontractor of Seri Mining.

Joselito, during the interview, said he immediately went inside the tunnel to look for his son after learning about the accident.

“Nagsige ko ug siyagit didto pero wala na ma’y motingog (I kept shouting, but there was no response),” said Joselito, a former miner himself. He went inside twice.
Joselito didn’t sleep until Landero’s body was retrieved.

Before the accident, Joselito recalled he discouraged his son from working in the mining company because of the salary system.

“Magdepende ilang sweldo sa kadaghanon sa makuha nila nga coal (Their salary depended on how much coal they could extract),” he said.

Mining

He suggested that Landero look after their livestock instead. But Landero didn’t heed his advice because he wanted to have some money for the barrio’s fiesta.

Joselito said he regretted not pushing his son to go back to high school.

The miner’s wake is being held in Barangay Dungga. He will be buried tomorrow.

Dungga Barangay Councilwoman Pining Alerta, in a separate interview, said the accidents in Seri Mining are seldom. “Safe ra man gyud na diha (It’s safe there),” she said.

Many of the mountain village’s 1,000 or so residents rely on mining, she said.

In the wake of the accident, Alerta said they will request the management to involve the barangay in their meetings so they will know the working conditions of the miners.

During the interview, Mayor Durano revealed he didn’t immediately sign the business permit of Seri Mining last month after learning about the subcontracting arrangement.

Workers’ safety

Mayor Durano said he was informed by engineers of DOE that operations will be suspended until mitigating measures are implemented. The management will also help the families of the victims.

“As chief executive of Danao City, malipay ta naa’y trabaho but dili dapat i-compromise ang safety (I am pleased by job opportunities, but companies should not compromise their workers’ safety),” Durano said.

Dole 7 Director Chona Mantilla said her office will first coordinate with the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which implements the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) program of the government.

Mantilla said that while there is a marching order for Dole 7 to assume jurisdiction over the mining sector’s labor force, this is a new area for the labor department that needs official guidelines.

“On the matter of outsourcing and subcontracting of workers, we will check under Department Order 18-A as soon as we obtain the official report,” Mantilla said.

Dole will inspect Seri and inquire how they hire miners, how much they pay, and whether they are giving the miners all the benefits mandated by law.

Survivors

MGB 7 Director Loreto Alburo, however, told Sun.Star Cebu that Seri mining operations involve coal mining, so it falls under the jurisdiction of the energy department.

“The mining of coal, geothermal and others related to energy is under DOE. What is under the MGB is the mining of dolomite and other mineral resources not related to energy,” Alburo said.

Lou Arciaga, the DOE Visayas corporate communications officer, said the agency has sent an investigating team to Danao City headed by Engineer Eduardo Amante with members Felix Timbal, Randy de Dios and Leonardo Duterte.

Amante, the chief of DOE energy development and utilization division, said their initial investigation showed that the roof of the mining area collapsed.

Amante said they will resume the investigation today and get the statements of all the survivors, after the latter have had a chance to rest.

DOE Visayas Director Antonio Labios said that Seri (SKI Energy Resource Inc.) is a valid coal operating contractor of DOE in Barangay Dungga, Danao City.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2014.

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