Senator wants raps filed vs DENR, local execs abusing seashores
MANILA, Philippines - Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr on Monday called for the filing of cases against environment and local officials who have failed to implement the statutory ban on quarrying and mining along seashores.
Pimentel said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should go after its field officials and local chief executives who have abused their authority by issuing permits to individuals and firms for the extraction of black sands and other minerals in areas that are off limits to mining and quarrying under existing laws.
"DENR and local government officials who have recklessly allowed these illegal and reprehensible activities should be held liable and criminally charged for flagrant violation of environment and mining laws," Pimentel said in a press statement.
He said the DENR should strictly implement the ban and impose sanctions on individuals and companies engaged in the activity.
He said the extraction of black sands on beach areas within a radius of 200 meters from the shores – known as salvage zone – destroys the natural protective barrier that prevents seawater from overflowing and causing floods in coastal villages.
"All mining and quarrying activities on seashore areas should be completely discontinued and banned because of the damage to the environment they are causing. Not only do they render the coastal communities vulnerable to natural disasters, they also cause degradation of adjoining agricultural lands because of the resulting intrusion of sea water," Pimentel said.
The senator made the statement after residents in coastal communities in Candelaria, Zambales and Isabela complained of black sand mining going on with impunity in their seashore areas.
He said in Zambales, a mining outfit, called Prime Picks Company, operated by a certain Roberto Go, has managed to engage in black sand mining despite strong opposition from the people.
The municipal council of Candelaria has sent a resolution to DENR Secretary Lito Atienza requesting him to stop the mining operation of Prime Picks.
Pimentel said mining malpractices like this justify the intervention of the DENR even if the issuance of small mining permits and certain environment protection functions have already been devolved to the local government units.
He made this observation in the face of the objections of provincial governors to a DENR order issued by Atienza requiring both big and small mining companies to secure permit from his office for exporting mineral ore to other countries.
Pimentel agreed with Atienza that there should be a mechanism by which the DENR should check and monitor compliance of mining firms with environment laws, the terms and conditions of their mining licenses and their tax obligations.
The new DENR order prescribes the guidelines for filing, processing and issuance of Mineral Ore Export Permit for transport and shipment of minerals outside the country. It aims to eliminate the undervaluation and misdeclaration in the exportation of mineral ores, like copper, iron and nickel, and to plug the loopholes in the collection of taxes from these materials.
Pimentel, principal author of the Small Scale Mining Act, said that with the issuance and implementation of the DENR order, the government will be able to effectively keep track of the movements of gold and other precious minerals especially from the Mount Diwalwal gold rush areas in Compostela Valley. - Amita Legaspi, GMANews.TV
I had heard about the black sand mining during a recent trip home, but I don't know the details. It saddens me that people are willing to sacrifice the environment for their own financial gain. I hope this matter will be looked into and positive action be taken
Sen. Pimentel, FYI, is married to Bing Pimentel nee De La Llana of Candelaria, Zambales.