“It is not only an action against the destructive and exploitative black sand mining operation, but also a blow against individuals and officials who welcomed, imposed and supported the said mining ventures through sheer political force, threats, maneuverings and deceptions.” – Defend Ilocos
By JOAN GARCIA
VIGAN CITY — Residents of Ilocos Sur need not worry about the black sand mining in their shores as dismantling operations of the mining companies have started. A team composed by the National Bureau of Investigation – National Office (NBI), Department of Justice (DoJ), Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Navy, Coastguards, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 1 and Bureau of Immigration led the dismantling, starting August 3, of the mining facilities in Caoayan, Sta. Catalina and San Vicente.
About 36,000 metric tons of magnetite concentrate in Brgy. Namnama, San Vicente amounting to P150 million ($3.488 million) has also been seized. The magnetite is planned to be spread back to the shore and would take 200 days to complete.
The operation follows the unheeded Cease and Desist Order (CDO) of MGB Region I finding all black sand mining in the province as illegal. A total of four CDOs were released by the MGB Region I since January of this year to Hong Ze Mining Corporation, An Bang Mining Company and Yinyi- Wellresource Mining, Inc, all of which were disregarded by said companies. The CDO was based on the absence of pertinent mining permits and violation of the 200 meters onshore mining zone along the shoreline.
Donna Rabang Peta of Defend Ilocos Against Mining Plunder (Defend Ilocos) said the dismantling, though long overdue, is a “hard-won victory against large scale mining plunder of our coastal mineral resources”.
“It is not only an action against the destructive and exploitative black sand mining operation, but also a blow against individuals and officials who welcomed, imposed and supported the said mining ventures through sheer political force, threats, maneuverings and deceptions,” Rabang Peta added.
Peta explained that mining companies dared to defy the CDO because local government officials allowed the operations in their area even if it was already found to be illegal. After the site inspection held by MGB Region I with Defend Ilocos, Social Action Commission of the Archdiocese (SAC) of Nueva Segovia, the OIC of ENRMO Ilocos Sur, Mr. Raymund Sinay, announced that the companies can still continue to operate while correcting the cited violations in an interview with a local radio station last January.
According to Peta, other local officials who pushed and supported the mining operation likewise continued their claim regarding its “legality” despite the successive Cease and Desist Orders from the DENR-MGB and direct instructions from the Justice Department to dismantle the facilities.
“These are clear manifestations of their connivance with the foreign mining companies illegally operating in their jurisdictions – their clear betrayal of their office and public trust,” Peta said.
Still, Peta calls for vigilance and asks the residents to ensure that the implementation of the call for the stoppage of all black sand mining operations in the province be fully met. She explained that the seizure of the mining equipment and dismantling of the facilities are only part of the demands presented by their group during the March dialogue with MGB Director Leo Jasareno and July meeting with the local governments of Caoayan, Sta. Catalina and San Vicente together with the SAC of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia.