Posted: 14-May-2012 / 4 years 45 weeks ago
Senator Aquilino Pimentel IV, partylist congressmen, town mayors, other local officials and various groups opposed to magnetite mining in various areas in Ilocos region have sought a Writ of Kalikasan before the Supreme Court in a bid to stop such activities which accordingly have caused massive beach erosion and flooding.
Reps. Teodoro Casino, Raymond Palatino, Luzviminda Ilagan, Antonio Tinio, Emmi de Jesus, Mayor Leonfre Gironella of Salcedo town, Ilocos Sur and town officials and a civil society federation network called -- Defend Ilocos—filed on May 4 their petition with high hopes to protect the Ilocos region’s pristine beauty and resources from alleged plunder and environmental destruction.
Petitioners include Senator Aquilino Koko Pimentel, Rep. Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna), Rep. Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers Party), Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Rep. Emmi De Jesus (Gabriela Women’s Partylist), Mayor Leonofre Gironella of Salcedo, Ilocos Sur, Mayor Jeremy Jesus Bueno III of Santa town, also in Ilocos Sur and may others.
Donna Rabang Peta, a member of the Defend Ilocos secretariat cites that coastal engineering and scientific studies have associated sand mining and offshore dredging to changes in sea floor topography and wave regimes, which affects sediment movement in the surf zone and beach.
Dredge holes trap sediments which are supposed to replenish sands, and other materials carried by the backwash of waves, she said.
The approval of the June 29, 2010 Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) by the Altamina Exploration and Resources Inc. covering more than 9,588 hectares in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan, said Peta and the petitioners, ‘is one of the “midnight deals” of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) mired with irregularities like the failure to conduct community consultations, endorsement from affected local governments, and the signing of former executive secretary Leandro Mendoza of the agreement in behalf of Arroyo.
The Constitution and the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 states that FTAA’s should be approved by the president.
The anti-magnetite mining groups added, despite the formal objections filed with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau against mining applications by the local government of Vigan City and various groups and affected communities, the MGB-Region 1 gave a permit.
Interestingly, added Peta, allowing mining operation in the coastal areas of Ilocos Sur is contrary to the findings of the MGB and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) with regards to the susceptibility of Ilocos Sur to tsunamis, liquefaction, and other natural disasters such as flooding and erosion.
Mining operations, especially the extraction of magnetite in the coastal environment will amplify the effects of these geohazards and natural disasters. These pose a greater threat to the lives and properties of the residents in coastal areas, they added.
Also, offshore mining will disrupt the balance of the marine ecosystem that may eventually result to decrease and disappearance of marine flora and fauna, and economic dislocation of communities dependent to the readily available resources from sea.
“We seek environmental justice, more than just environmental protection, for justice comes with ensuring the people’s security for livelihood, shelter, and dignity with preference for those who have less and great regard for the long-term needs of people,” said Peta.
Mayor Bueno confirmed his support to the move against black sand mining because his hometown is one of the affected areas. “Saan ko nga ipalubos a maperdi ti ili a Santa.” (I will not allow destruction in Santa). We hope the SC, he said, will grant the TEPO, adding, he will enjoin his other colleagues in the local government to support the petition before the High Tribunal, to protect the environment and the whole of Ilocos Sur.
The experience of the different coastal communities where magnetite mining companies such as FILMAG and Anglo American Mining Corporation operated from 1964 to Mid-1980s, speaks for itself, said Annabel Narvasa, spokesperson of Defend Ilocos and leader of the local farmers and fisherfolks communities in the said province.
“Coastal communities in La Union and Ilocos Sur continue to experience massive beach erosion and flooding due to previous mining operations to extract magnetite sand, allowing another company to extract this material, which serves as beach armor, is tantamount to giving a go signal to displace communities residing in the coast and destroying their livelihood,” she claimed.