MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mayor refutes landslide, soil erosion reports in Sipalay

Published by MAC on 2006-11-22

Mayor refutes landslide, soil erosion reports in Sipalay

By Erwin Ambo S. Delilan, Sun Star Bacolod

22nd November 2006

SIPALAY - City Mayor Oscar "Nonoy" Montilla Jr. yesterday belied reports of landslide and soil erosion in several sitios in Barangay Manlocahoc, Sipalay City.

These have been attributed to the ongoing mining exploration of the Colet Mining.

"Those (claims) are baseless, unfounded and manufactured," Montilla told Sun.Star in a phone interview.

Montilla was reacting to Greg Ratin's statement aired to the media people at the Capitol Tuesday morning.

Ratin, secretary general of Defend Patrimony, an anti-mining group in Negros island, said in his statement that "since September last year up to present, about 10 hectares of farmlands in Sitios Mantaboy and Caiwanan were enveloped by a series of landslides due to the Colet exploration."

Ratin also claimed that the water from Sipalay river, the biggest water source in the City, including some of its tributaries, has been silted and polluted.

He also accused Montilla of being a pro-mining citizen, "for obvious reason -- income."

Montilla, however, said that Ratin's statement is detrimental to thousands of people in Sipalay who are now waiting to get a job as soon as Colet Mining starts its operations in 2008.

Ratin disagreed though as he claimed that the Sipalaynons are only reserved for the rank and file.

"Colet is just fooling Sipalaynons because most of the experts that they will employ are foreign and not the local ones. Sipalaynons are only reserved for rank and file positions," he alleged.

"That's why we are now asking the Provincial Government to suspend Colet's plan of mining in Negros because it will only ruin our forest, marine resources, crop lands and the Province's thrust of an all out eco-tourism promotion," he added.

Ratin said that they will also seek the help of Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra for this matter.

Earlier, the Manlocahoc residents claimed that about a hundred hectares of rice farms, including the underground potable water, will be affected in case Colet Mining starts its full operation.

The residents aired these concerns during the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Colet Mining, Municipal Board and City Government of Sipalay last September 11.

Provincial Board Member Reynaldo Depasucat, environment committee chairman, said that based on their assessment, 19 families, who own rice farms at the upper Manlocahoc area, will be displaced in case the copper mining operations start.

But not contented with the EIA, the Manlocahoc folks, together with some militant groups, also held picket in front of the Capitol Building in Bacolod denouncing Colet and asking the Provincial Government to suspend its permit.

"Enough is enough!" Ratin said during his power point presentation at the SP Session Hall during the emergency hearing on the issue.

Ratin said that like Maricalum Mining and Philex Gold Philippines, Colet is also expected to harm not only the environment of Sipalay but of the entire Negros island.

Asked for comment, Depasucat maintained that he will bring the issue during the regular session of the Provincial Council Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier, Depasucat said he will propose to his colleagues the passage of a resolution for the creation of a local mining monitoring board that will serve as a back-up of the mining monitoring board of the MGB.

Depasucat said that this board will be composed of the local stakeholders, people from the province, City of Sipalay and Barangay Council of Manlocahoc.

"Its task is to ensure that Colet will follow all guidelines for responsible mining and that no environmental damage will occur during their operations," he added.

As to reports that hundreds of farm will be affected, Depasucat said that Sipalay City Mayor Oscar Montilla assured those who will be affected with new rice farms in the lowland. These farms will reportedly come with an irrigation system.

As for potable water, Depasucat said that Colet officials vowed to do all mitigating measures to keep from contaminating the safe water source. "Engineer Muyco of Colet also assured the residents that they will stop mining in case they failed to act on their promises stipulated in their Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), which is still being process at the DENR Regional Office in Iloilo City," Depasucat said.

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