By Franklin Roosevelt Dimaguiba in Tacloban City, Leyte and Gerry Albert Corpuz in Naga City, Camarines sur
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to ban magnetite mining in the coastal waters of Eastern Visayas region.
Citing the report of Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas, the activist fishers group said of the 107 offshore mining applications in the regions, 17 are applied for magnetite mining which covers several municipalities of Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap identified the 17 magnetite offshore mining activities in the region which he said will usher an era of environmental destruction, perpetual disasters and gross denial of fisherfolk livelihood across the region.
The Pamalakaya leader said the Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) is now processing the applications of magnetite giants like Nicua Corporation which will cover 5,390 hectares of coastal areas in the towns of Tanauan, Tolosa, Julita and Dulag in Leyte, Kando Mining Company; 3,945 hectares (Dulag, Mayorga and Julita towns in Leyte), Rushfield Mining Company; 5,309 hectares (Palo, Tanauan and Tacloban City, Leyte) and Minoro Mining and Exploration Corporation; 6,375 hectares (Alang-alang, Sta. Fe, Jaro, Pastran and Palo, Leyte).
The other exploration firms are Citygroup Philippines Corporation, 1,694 hectares (Caibiran, Biliran and Naval in Biliran), Asian Mines Incorporated, 769 hectares (Motiong, Samar), Bridestone Mining and Development Corporation; 7,252 hectares (Hinunangan, Hinundayan and Silago, Southern Leyte), Lazarus Mining Corporation; 6,205 hectares (Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte), Oregon Mining and Development Corporation; 5,099 hectares (Babatngon and Barugo), Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corporation; 11, 686 hectares (Babatngon, Barugo, Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte) and another application covering 5,752 hectares in the municipalities of Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba and Leyte, all in Leyte), Mt. Mogan Resources and Development Corp; 3,022 hectares (Dulag, Leyte), another 15, 781 hectares in Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga, MacArthur and Abuyog, and another Morgan exploration involving 25,312 hectares covering the coastal towns of Basey, Marabut and Tacloban City and Hedlite Mining Corporation; 3,945 hectares (Dulag, Julita and Mayorga in Leyte).
“We strongly urge President Aquino to scrap all the magnetite mining activities in Eastern Visayas. We ask Mr. Aquino to recall all these Public-Private Partnership led escapades in Region VIII and stop black sand giants from destroying the livelihood and the national patrimony of the people,” said Hicap.
Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas said if these magnetite mining applications are approved by the DENR and Malacanang, it will promote widespread community displacement, further diminish coastline, reduce fish catch to rock bottom levels, and decrease productivity since magnetite mining in coastal areas are inherently destructive and anti-environment.
Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas further said many studies and documentations bared black sand mining in coastal areas have resulted to coastal erosion, inundation of communities, and degradation of marine ecosystem.
Another Pamalakaya affiliate — the Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) also urged DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to disapprove the application of the US-Korean firm Bogo Mining Resources Corporation. The mining firm has a pending application for offshore mining for magnetite before the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR Region V dated November 20, 2009.
The exploration for magnetite will cover more than 17,000 hectares of municipal coastal waters in San Miguel Bay that would encompass five coastal municipalities in Camarines Sur—Sipocot, Cabusao, Calabanga, Tinambac and Siruma.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson and Lambat-Bicol regional chair Salvador France the exploration will conducted within the 15 kilometer municipal fishing waters, and the immediate impact of the magnetite exploration is the wholesale banning of municipal fishing activity and the destruction of fishing resources in San Miguel Bay once the offshore mining for magnetite is approved by the MGB and DENR regional office in Legazpi City, Albay.
“This grandmother of destruction must be stopped at all cost. We strongly urge the DENR chief in the national office to reject the application of Bogo Mining Resources and tell the capitalists of this mining firm to get out of San Miguel Bay,” said France.
The Pamalakaya leader said while waiting for DENR permit for exploration, the technical personnel of Bogo Mining Resources Corporation had started drilling operations in the five coastal municipalities to determine potential of magnetite. France said about 30,000 holes were drilled by mining personnel of Bogo since it applied for permit on November last year.
Pamalakaya said in Cabusao, about 180 hectares of mangrove areas will be uprooted to pave way for offshore magnetite mining and about 3,000 families of small fishermen in the coastal municipality will be affected by the ambitious magnetite exploration.
The group said in Calabanga, about 1,500 families of small fisherfolk will be affected once the exploration started.