Solons back Guimaras vs mining

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:43:00 10/26/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines—Five Congressmen have urged the House of Representatives to support the stand of officials and residents of Guimaras against mining operations on the island-province.

House Resolution 841, filed on Oct. 10, calls on the chamber to support the opposition of Guimarasnons against the entry and operations of mining companies.

The resolution was sponsored by Guimaras Rep. JC Rahman Nava, Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño, Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

In the resolution, the congressmen described the island as rich in natural resources and one of the pristine popular tourist destinations in the country.

Environmental nightmare

It said the island is well known for its export quality mangoes with around 250,000 mango trees planted all over the island.

“The varieties of mango produced on the island are among the sweetest in the world and are best for making dried mangoes, jam and other delicacies,” according to the resolution.

The congressmen said the island’s tourism potential lies on its pristine beaches and environment, which is still recovering from the devastation of a massive oil spill two years ago.

Over 2 million liters of bunker fuel was spilled into the waters of Guimaras after MT Solar I sank off the coast of the island on Aug. 11, 2006, amid rough seas. The spill contaminated marine resources and dislocated thousands of residents dependent on fishing.

The congressmen said the island’s tourism potential, rich biodiversity and livelihood of the people are in danger because of pending mining applications.

Mining expanse

Guimaras Gov. Felipe Nava earlier said that 65 percent of the island, or around 37,000 hectares, are covered by three applications for mining. These cover 22 villages in Nueva Valencia town, 13 in Sibunag, 12 in San Lorenzo, six in Buenavista and five in the capital town of Jordan.

The coverage of mining applications ranged from 2,000 to 30,000 hectares.

Years back, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had approved the application for a mineral production sharing agreement of Dorilag Cement Corp., which covered 1,794.60 hectares in the towns of Jordan and Buenavista. But this has failed to operate because of the opposition of the local government.

One mining company alone, the Fil-Asian Strategic Resources and Properties Corp., a subsidiary of the Australia-based Rusina Mining NL, plans to explore for gold and copper deposits in a 2,400-hectare area covering nine of the 20 villages of Nueva Valencia.

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