MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Roxas City, Capiz Towns Seek Ban On Mining

Published by MAC on 2007-09-10

Roxas City, Capiz Towns Seek Ban on Mining

By Felipe V. Celino, Visayas Bureau.

10th September 2007

ROXAS CITY, Philippines -- The officials of Roxas City and several towns have urged the provincial government to scrap its policy allowing large-scale mining in the province.

On June 8, the Capiz provincial board approved Provincial Ordinance no. 69, which allows mineral exploration and development activities over areas granted with permits by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The Roxas city council approved Thursday last week a resolution, sponsored by Councilor Herbert Chu, supporting Provincial Ordinance No. 6, series of 1999, which declared a moratorium on all large-scale mining activities and the processing of mining applications in Capiz for 15 years that could be extended up to 50 years.

The Roxas city resolution also sought the revocation of Provincial Ordinance 69.

Sigma, Pontevedra and other municipalities of Capiz passed similar resolutions that echoed the sentiments of militant groups Madiaas Ecological Movement (MEM) and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Capiz).

Chu said the province recently approved the mining permit of Teresa Marble Corp., which got a mineral production sharing agreement for gold and copper in towns of Dumarao, Maayon, Pontevedra and President Roxas that covered 2,735 hectares.

He said the pending mining applications for Capiz reached 24,460 hectares, almost nine percent of the province's total land area.

Chu noted the exploration activities would have damaging effects on the forest and soil.

"Forest is so vital to our ecosystem because this is home to many animal species and microorganisms. The exploration, excavation and extraction downgrade the quality of soil and make the soil vulnerable to landslides," he pointed out.

The drilling of the land, which would be part of the exploration, would destroy the water table, said Chu who added that the actual extraction could peril the water source.

"Aside from the destruction of water table, large scale mining destroys watersheds that the important in maintaining abundant sources of fresh water underground," he said.

He cited the pollution and siltation of rivers, especially the Panay River, due to mine tailings.

Chu said that allowing exploration would compromise their "resolve to defend and nurture" the environment.

Provincial board member Rommel Lastimoso, who chairs the committee on environment, assured Capiceños that no mining would be allowed without the approval of the provincial board.

"The request is merely an exploration of the areas as possible site for mining operation," he said.

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