PARACALE, CamNorte: The local government of this town now has substantial reason to point an accusing finger at three mining companies operating in a portion of its shores as the guilty parties for the environmental devastation that destroyed more or less forty hectares of coral reefs and mangrove forests in Pulangdaga Point, barangay Bagumbayan, Paracale, Camarines Norte.
Paracale Mayor Romeo Moreno confirmed that irresponsible mining activities by companies Uni-Dragon Mining and Development Corporation (Uni-Dragon), Baotong Mining Corporation and Liaoning Fenghua Group Philippine Mining Co Inc. is the main reason for the death of corals and mangroves on the shores of Pulangdaga near Pulang Daga Beach Resort, the only tourist attraction of Paracale.
Moreno pointed out that a team headed by Paracale Tourism Officer Jamela Enova and Municipal Agriculturist Danilo Enova, Sr. conducted an ocular inspection last April 30 and May 1 in the site over which red mud, considered mine tailings from the mining facility extracting iron ore and other minerals there, eroded over the coral reefs and seashore.
He said that findings by the team revealed that the mining firms violated many of the guidelines set on responsible mining which these mining firms promised to follow to the letter during their presentations while applying for favorable recommendation from the Sangguniang Bayan.
He added that such neglect to protect the environment around which the mining facilities were located is already a major offense by the companies and should be dealt with by the national office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines itself.
He explained that being mining companies operating on large scale, the three Chinese mining firms are already under the jurisdiction of the national government.
Rodolfo Villafuerte, representative of Baotong Mining who was there during the conduct of this interview, was told straight by the mayor that he will not sign the application for business permit by his company that he is holding in his office because of the incessant clamor against the mining firms instigated by Save Pulang Daga Movement last month.
Villafuerte refused to give statements regarding Moreno’s refusal. However, he clarified that the mud that eroded from the mines is not tainted with chemicals and is not dangerous to health.
Moreno also said that Uni-Dragon was found to be lacking Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) in its documents which is another reason why a cease and desist order was issued recently by the DENR.
Wednesday this week, various concerned offices, NGOs and the proponents of Save Pulang Daga Movement were invited for a meeting with the Sangguniang Bayan to discuss recommendations by Municipal Agriculturist Enolva regarding the restoration of the corals and mangroves.
Moreno said that plans would be ironed out a few days immediately based on the outcome of the discussion.
Nevertheless, he reminded the representatives of the three mining firms to take steps in restoring the surrounding ecosystem by planting trees and cleaning up the red mud that usually erodes from the mining facility through the streams before settling on the sea during rainy days.
Meanwhile, a team from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) headed by Henry Lopez collected samples of the mud from the mines to take and test in Manila in order to determine whether it has chemical content that could harm living organisms.
Moreno confirmed that results from the laboratory tests are yet to come. – Bicol Mail