Environment exec admits some Caraga LGUs had clash with mining firms it hosted

by Ben Serrano

December 3, 2010

 

            BUTUAN CITY (PNA) - Caraga region may have been tagged as Philippine’s mining and logging capital and now Asia’s mining capital due to the numbers of mining firms eager to operate but a government environmental official in the region today admitted some local government units had seriousconflict with the mining firms it hosted.

 

            Environment Management Bureau (EMB) Assistant regional director Reynaldo Degamo of Caraga region cited two cases so far that has “Intense” conflict at present with mining firms it hosted, that of Cantilan, Surigao del Sur case and recently the Tubay, Agusan del Norte case.


             The two towns was among 27 municipalities in Caraga region  identified  to have mineral deposits of gold, nickel, copper,chromite and others. 

 

            “Tubay has different story because at first it welcomed mining firm San Roque Metals Inc. (SRMI) and even passed resolutions welcoming the mining firm with open arms. Today it is singing different tune because the Tubay LGU including the barangay where the mining firm office stands passed resolutions calling for its immediate closure” Degamo told this writer in an exclusive interview.

 

            Degamo added that before, Tubay local government unit even passed a resolution that supersedes its earlier resolution declaring the Tubay mining site as part of the “Bird Sanctuary” area.

 

            “The Cantilan, Surigao del Sur LGU case against Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC) and Carac-an Development Corporation (CDC) present also different story because the Cantilan LGU from the start vehemently opposed entry of the mining firms by passing municipal ordinance and many town council resolutions despite mining firms’ approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreement or MPSA issued by DENR, MGB central offices in Manila”, Degamo said.

            Earlier, the local government of Cantilan and the local governments of the neighboring towns of Carrascal and Madrid opposed entry of MarcVentures on the grounds that mining activities fall within the watershed area – vital in the irrigation and domestic water supply of the three towns.

            The Sangguniang Bayan of Cantilan led by then Cantilan Vice Mayor Rosa Carreos had earlier approved an ordinance opposing the entry of the Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC) and Carac-and Development Corporation (CDC).

Surigao del Sur Bishop Nereo Odchimar now CBCP President expressed disappointment over the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs) to MMDC and CDC by Environment Secretary Jose Atienza Jr on December 22, 2008.   

            MMDC has approved MPSA over 4,799 hectares in Barangay Cabangahan, Cantilan town for nickel and gold while San Roque Metals Inc (SRMI) in Tubay at first obtained small-scale mining permit and their MPSA for nickel was approved in 2008.

            Degamo said Cantilan LGU refused from the start to issue business permit which is now contested by MarcVentures before court while Tubay LGU from start issued willingly business permit to San Roque Metals Inc. or SRMI.

 

            Degamo admitted the two LGU cases in Caraga triggered some minor setback in the DENR’s efforts to promote local and foreign investments for responsible mining in the country.

 

            Degamo claimed said mining firms’ existence in clash with the LGUs were still legal because it has approved Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA).

 

            “If said local government units will not issue business permits, the mining firms can always go to court for legal remedies and question why said LGUs failed to issue business permits despite all requirements set by government are met” Degamo added.

            Thirteen barangays in costal town of Tubay, Agusan del Norte passed resolutions after residents of said barangays filed petitions urgently asking President Aquino to issue closure order and cessation of all mining operations of San Roque Metals Inc. (SRMI).

            They claimed in their more than 117 pages petition bearing their names and signatures furnished to this writer that mining operations of San Roque Metals Inc. whose one of the Board of Director is Caloocan City Vice Mayor Edgar Erice, allegedly staunch political ally of President Aquino had allegedly caused undue pollutions and mass environmental destructions.

Tubay Municipal Council passed resolution also seeking SRMI’s closure due to the clamor of Barangay folk, General Parents’ Teachers Associations, rice farmers, fisher folks, women’s organizations and findings of the Municipal Agricultural office that the mining operations of SR Metals Inc. in Barangay La Fraternidad has becoming environmentally damaging posing danger to health to village residents.

            The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del Norte also passed a resolution last October 22, 2010 requesting President Aquino to issue closure order and cessation of all mining operations of San Roque Metals, Inc. in the coastal  Barangay La Fraternidad in coastal town of Tubay. (PNA/Ben Serrano)