Palawan mayor praised for mining moratorium


By Cheryl A. Galili

A TOWN mayor here in Palawan has earned the accolade of members of several non-government organizations (NGOs) for issuing a moratorium to stop new mining explorations and operations in his municipality and avoid the destruction of its environment.

Being praised is Mayor Cesario R. Benedito, Jr. of the first class municipality of Brooke’s Point in southern Palawan who issued an executive order recently to stop further mining explorations and operations that many residents allegedly claim will only destroy the balance in their environment. It took effect on June 3, 2008 and will be enforced for 10 years.

Currently, there are 38 large and small scale applications for mining explorations in Brooke’s Point, and two have reportedly been given their mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs), MacroAsia Corporation and Ipilan Nickel Company (INC).

Executive Order No. 28, which was actually done by Benedito on December 20, 2007, it is stated that “Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 mandates the municipal mayor to issue such executive orders as necessary for proper enforcement of laws.”

It stated further that “one of the primary concerns of the local government unit of Brooke’s Point is to intensify environmental laws, particularly the protection of its forest and marine resources, its utilization and conservation as well. And to effectively safeguard the environment and protect the rights of affected communities.”

Section 2 of the EO specified that “only mines whose permits are approved by the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) confirmed and already operating in Brooke’s Point as of this date, shall be the only recognized mining entities in the municipality and a moratorium for new mining applications shall be implemented for a maximum period of 10 years.”

The executive order, according to Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI) Executive Director Cleofe Bernardino, is laudable and expresses the true sentiment of the people of Brooke’s Point, may they be indigenous peoples or not.

“Mayor Benedito should be lauded and emulated by other mayors for what he did,” Bernardino said when interviewed by radio station DYER, adding they are very happy in the NGOs that their plea did not fall on deaf ears in Brooke’s Point.

“The residents of Brooke’s Point also deserve praises because they are the reason why Mayor Benedito issued the moratorium. They spoke and the mayor listened,” she added.

Brooke’s Point in southern Palawan is where MacroAsia, a large mining company, is applying to do large scale mining. Another company, Ipilan Nickel Corporation, is currently conducting mining explorations for future operation in Barangay Ipilan.

In related news, Bernardino is calling on Board member Gil P. Acosta of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Governor Joel T. Reyes to speed up the approval of the proposed mining moratorium by board members Vicky de Guzman, Joselito Cadlaon and Modesto Rodriguez II.

The moratorium, she said, is Palawan’s chance at saving the balance in its environment. “They should not allow this moratorium to sleep long and be delayed,” she stated when interviewed.

From the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Rodriguez II said he is happy that Benedito of Brooke’s Point issued a moratorium. “It’s an additional success to the moratorium that we are proposing here in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The EO means that different LGUs are already throwing support to our cause here to protect Palawan’s environment,” he said, adding that the chance of the moratorium being approved by other board members is at 51% currently.

Vice-Governor David A. Ponce de Leon, when asked, said he can’t comment because they have not received a copy of the EO as of Tuesday, June 3, the day it also took effect in Brooke’s Point.(PalawanTimes)

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