Pamalakaya, the fisherfolk group, said the government should stop “the national auction of coastal resources to multinationals and transnational corporation,” saying such a policy would worsen the impact of climate change.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — Leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) recently signed a collective manifesto calling on President Benigno S. Aquino III to stop national projects that convert coastal communities into business havens and hasten the disastrous impact of climate change.
The Pamalakaya leaders said the privatization and conversion of fishing grounds have eroded the capability and capacity of coastal communities to confront the challenge and impact of climate change and extreme weather phenomenon such as La Nina and El Nino.
The manifesto was signed by Pamalakaya leaders from Cagayan, Aurora, Bulacan, Bataan, Pangasinan, La Union, Navotas, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Mindoro Occidental, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, Leyte, Samar, Cebu and Bohol provinces during the group’s national council meeting held in its national headquarters in Quezon City.
Pamalakaya national chairMAN Fernando Hicap said several government projects that are primed for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects would continue thereby exacerbating the impact of climate change on coastal resources, water environment and the livelihood of the small fisherfolk.
(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
Stop Magnetite Mining
The group said that Aquino should immediately take action to ban magnetite mining in the coastal waters of Eastern Visayas region.
Based on reports from Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas, of the 107 offshore mining applications in the regions, 17 are applied for magnetite mining which covers several municipalities of Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran.
Magnetite is a magnetic and very dense mineral of iron important for the steel industry. High-grade magnetite is used in many chemical processes including the production of iron sulfate, which is used to purify water in many major cities. Magnetite’s weight per volume makes it an important source of aggregate in the production of heavy concrete. Heavy concrete is used from the construction of baffles and containment tanks in nuclear power plants to things for everyday use such as counter weights in household washing machines.
According to environmental group Kalikasan-PNE, if these magnetite mining applications are approved by the DENR and Malacañang, it would promote widespread community displacement, further diminish the coastline, reduce fish catch to rock bottom levels, and decrease productivity since magnetite mining in coastal areas are inherently destructive to the environment.
Many studies reveal that black sand mining in coastal areas results to coastal erosion, inundation of communities, and degradation of marine ecosystem. Offshore mining of magnetite in Cagayan can increase vulnerability to floods as magnetite holds the sand together. The absence of magnetite in the sand can deplete and erode the coastal and near-shore areas.
The Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) is now processing the applications of magnetite giants like Nicua Corporation which would cover 5,390 hectares of coastal areas in the towns of Tanauan, Tolosa, Julita and Dulag in Leyte; Kando Mining Company, 3,945 hectares (Dulag, Mayorga and Julita towns in Leyte); Rushfield Mining Company, 5,309 hectares (Palo, Tanauan and Tacloban City, Leyte); and Minoro Mining and Exploration Corporation; 6,375 hectares (Alang-alang, Sta. Fe, Jaro, Pastran and Palo, Leyte).
Other exploration firms entering the fray are Citygroup Philippines Corporation which is applying for 1,694 hectares (Caibiran, Biliran and Naval in Biliran); Asian Mines Incorporated, 769 hectares (Motiong, Samar); Bridestone Mining and Development Corporation, 7,252 hectares (Hinunangan, Hinundayan and Silago, Southern Leyte); Lazarus Mining Corporation, 6,205 hectares (Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte); Oregon Mining and Development Corporation, 5,099 hectares (Babatngon and Barugo); Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corporation, 11, 686 hectares (Babatngon, Barugo, Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte).
Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corporation also has another application covering 5,752 hectares in the municipalities of Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba and Leyte, all in Leyte. Then there is Mt. Mogan Resources and Development Corp. applying for operations covering 3,022 hectares (Dulag, Leyte), another 15, 781 hectares in Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga, MacArthur and Abuyog.
Mt. Mogan Resouces also has an application for exploration involving 25,312 hectares covering the coastal towns of Basey, Marabut and Tacloban City.
Another Pamalakaya affiliate, the Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) also urged DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to disapprove the application of the US-Korean firm Bogo Mining Resources Corporation. The mining firm has a pending application for offshore mining for magnetite before the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR Region V dated November 20, 2009.
The exploration for magnetite would cover more than 17,000 hectares of municipal coastal waters in San Miguel Bay that would encompass five coastal municipalities in Camarines Sur—Sipocot, Cabusao, Calabanga, Tinambac and Siruma.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson and Lambat-Bicol regional chair Salvador France said the exploration will be conducted within the 15 kilometer municipal fishing waters.
“Magnetite exploration will result in a complete ban of municipal fishing activity and the destruction of fishing resources in San Miguel Bay,” he said.” We strongly urge the DENR chief in the national office to reject the application of Bogo Mining Resources and order the mining firm to get out of San Miguel Bay,” said France.
The Pamalakaya leader said that while still waiting for the approval of the DENR permit for exploration, the technical personnel of BMRC has already started drilling operations in the five coastal municipalities to determine potential of magnetite. France said about 30,000 holes were drilled by mining personnel of Bogo since it applied for permit on November last year.
Environmental Destruction and Climate Change
Pamalakaya also named several other projects which they said contribute to the devastating effects of climate change. Among said projects were the offshore mining activities in Cebu-Bohol Strait and Palawan waters that would destroy the marine and ecological balance in the waters of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Masbate and Palawan provinces.
“ The government is set to award 30 more contracts for unbridled exploitation of marine waters for oil and gas explorations. These contracts should be junked and the projects permanently shelved,” Hicap said.
(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
In Cebu-Bohol Strait, a total of 445,000 hectares of marine waters will be laid bare to oil hunters and gas contractors looking for oil and gas reserves. In Palawan, more than one million hectares of waters will be explored for oil and gas exploration. This is apart from the oil and gas exploration being conducted by Exxon Mobil off Sulu waters in Mindanao.
Hicap also cited the reclamation project involving more than 7,000 hectares of coastal areas in Cavite. He said another 5,000 hectares of coastal areas adjunct to the expressway project will be reclaimed for the construction and modernization of Sangley naval port, which entails eco-tourism projects and construction of gambling and entertainment centers.
Other leaders of Pamalakaya also sounded the alarm against projects in their areas:
1)The 54,000 hectare Cagayan Export Processing Zone project in Cagayan province. The project involves development of a major Freeport zone, magnetite mining and the creation of world class international and seaport in Northern Philippines. The prime mover behind the project is Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
2)The offshore magnetite mining in Camarines Sur, Lingayen Gulf and Cagayan provinces which will cover several coastal municipalities in each province. The offshore mining of magnetite materials will affect the livelihood of more than 20,000 fishing families in the Camarines Sur province alone, aside from its huge environmental cost.
3) The widespread conversion of coastal municipalities of Nasugbu, Lian, Calatagan, Calaca, Lemery and Tuy into eco-tourism areas, all in first district, province of Batangas in Southern Tagalog region. More than 20,000 hectares of fishing and farming areas are covered by this district wide eco-tourism project.
4)The eco-tourism project in Taal Lake, Batangas which seek to develop the lake into a major tourist destination in Southern Tagalog region under the Metro Taal Development Project. More than 30,000 residents, mostly lake fishermen will be affected by this public-private partnership project on eco-tourism.
“The national auction of coastal resources to multinationals and transnational corporations should be put to an end. If this national policy of denationalization, privatization and conversion would continue, this country will forever be battered by the extreme impact of El Nino and La Nino,” said Hicap. (http://bulatlat.com)