MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Two governors urge enforcement of 25-year mining ban

Published by MAC on 2008-07-09
Source: Robert A. Evora, Manila Bulletin

CALAPAN CITY - Two Mindoro governors have asked for the enforcement of the 25-year mining ban in their provinces, saying that the island needs to concentrate the use of its resources, not in mineral production, but in agriculture and tourism.

Oriental Mindoro Gov. Arnan C. Panaligan and Occidental Mindoro Gov. Josephine Ramirez-Sato batted for this policy initiative during a special, fullcouncil meeting of the Region IV-B Development Council (RDC) called recently by Vice President Noli de Castro.

"Our country need not to resort to expensive rice importation from Thailand, Vietnam and elsewhere. Jointly, the two Mindoro provinces are capable of producing 600,000 metric towns of rice per harvest season, the same volume the Philippines is importing from these two countries," the two governors said.

"Our strength lies in agriculture. We produce the best palay, the best calamansi, the best bananas, and our fruits and vegetables are known far and wide. We must ensure that we maintain our competitive advantage in these areas," Panaligan said.

The Oriental Mindoro governor said that his province needs to consolidate its resources in agriculture, tourism, and agro-industry before it can diversify into other industries that may not be socially and environmentally acceptable to the Mindoreños.

Panaligan and Sato said that mining is not the only answer to the "perceived poverty" in the two Mindoros. They reminded investors, who are interested to venture into mining on the island, about the 25-year mining ban in effect in the two provinces.

Governor Sato said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been "issuing exploration permits, left and right, without first consulting the local government units concerned."

The lady governor was referring to exploration activities being undertaken by Intex Resources Philippines Inc., which has a vast mining concession of 10,000 hectares that encroaches on several watersheds that provide irrigation and drinking water to the people.

"It's our territorial responsibility to protect our environment and agricultural assets," Sato said, adding that Occidental Mindoro, and Oriental Mindoro could triple their annual rice productions if the irrigation systems are improved.

If these are improved, there is no need to import rice, she said.

Panaligan said that he has been giving priority to the improvement of irrigation systems in his province. He urged Vice President De Castro to fast-track the rehabilitation of three damaged irrigation systems in Baco-Bucayao, MagAsawang Tubig, and Pula-Bansud, and the five communal irrigation systems in Socorro and Pinamalayan, all costing P81 million.

"It entails plenty of money to build and rehabilitate our irrigation facilities, but we need to do that to double or even triple our palay production, he said.

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