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No more dolomite mining in Cebu
By: Mylen Manto | Published Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia issued a Cease and Desist Order through Executive Order No. 25 to Dolomite Mining Corporation and Philippine Mining Service Corporation putting a stop to all mining activities on dolomite rocks in Alcoy town. (Junjie Mendoza)

The Cebu Provincial Government has ordered the Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC) and Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) to immediately stop from further extracting, processing, selling, and transporting dolomite, associated mineral deposits, and other quarry resources in Alcoy town, southern Cebu.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued Tuesday, September 8 Executive Order (EO) No. 25 which serves as a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to PMSC and DMC aimed to prevent more damage to the “terrestrial environment” in Alcoy where the mined dolomite rocks are.

In a meeting with the representatives of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7, PMSC, and DMC, Garcia said she does not want a repeat of a Naga incident where 78 were killed following a massive landslide in September 2018 and many were left homeless.

Also present in the meeting were 3rd district Provincial Board (PB) Member Atty. John Ismael Borgonia, who chairs the committee on environmental conservation and natural resources, Capitol Consultant Atty. Marino Martinquilla, and Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Donato Villa.

The governor ordered Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office Chief Rodel Bontuyan to conduct an aerial survey of the mining site in Barangay Pugalo, Alcoy to assess the extent of the situation.

“I want you to inspect the area padad-i og drone tan-awon nako kon unsay sitwasyon diha, ang slope diha, kay there is allegation here nga critical ang slope. You want another Naga (incident)?” she said.

Martinquilla said the governor has instructed PENRO to set-up a checkpoint near the plant of the mining company to ensure that no transportation of dolomite will be done while the CDO is in effect. 

The governor also told Capitol's legal team to prepare possible criminal, administrative, and civil complaints against those who violated the laws and called on the DENR to support the Province in its action.

Dolomite is a mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate, said the MGB, and is generally used in iron and steel making; metal processing; glass, bricks and ceramics productions as well as fertilizer and soil conditioner, among others.

Garcia told the MGB to deny all existing Ore Transport Permit (OTP) applications. Currently, there are three pending OTP applications before the MGB 7 allowing the transport of 10,500 cubic meters of dolomite to fill up the Manila Bay in Manila. 

The MGB-7 confirmed that they issued two OTP to PMSC for the delivery of 7,000 cubic meters to Manila Bay as a substitute to white sand for aesthetic project. The DMC sells the extracted dolomite to PMSC, a mineral processing permit holder, for processing and sale.

“Karon akong nasabtan anang dolomite ikarga mana for export kay inyong market tua man sa gawas. Pwede pud diay na inyong i-fill up sa Manila Bay? Pwede diay na i-substitute for sand unya mao nay ipamaligya bisan hain? Nganong gi-issuehan man tog Ore Transport Permit ni Alburo (MGB-7 Director Loreto Alburo)? This is the same guy who was RD of MGB pag-landslide sa Naga,” Garcia stated.

Violations

She enumerated six violations committed from the extraction and transportation of dolomite from Alcoy to Manila. 

First, the massive extraction and transport of crushed dolomite from Alcoy, Cebu to Manila for aesthetic purposes of Manila Bay violates Section 8 (A) of DENR Administrative Order 2010-21 dated June 28, 2010 or providing for a consolidated DENR Administrative Order (AO) for the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 7942 or the “Philippine Mining Act of 1995.”

Next, the dolomite mineral extraction, transport, and its final use in the Manila Bay shoreline violated DENR AO No. 2003-20 for lack of environmental impact study despite the fact that the project is classified under Proclamation No. 2146 as an environmentally critical area since Alcoy is a declared habitat area of Cebu’s endangered bird “Siloy” or Black Shama endemic in the island. The extraction itself, she added, was conducted in an area with critical slope. 

Garcia also said the extraction project violated the precautionary principle of environmental law since the source of dolomite filling materials is situated inside or within the fringes of the Alcoy forest cover located in barangays Nug-as, Atabay, San Agustin, and Poblacion. 

The said precautionary principle stated that “when there is lack of full scientific certainty in establishing causal link between human activity and environmental effect or harm, the right to a balanced and healthful ecology shall be given the benefit of the doubt.” 

The possible environmental harm and effect of the Manila Bay aesthetic project to the ecology of Cebu triggers the operability of this principle to prevent environmental inequity to the present and future generation of Cebuanos, stated Garcia.

The extraction of dolomite minerals from Alcoy and the consequential damage it will cause to the terrestrial environment of Cebu Island, the governor continued, violated the Cebuanos constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature as provided under Section 16, Article II of 1987 Constitution. 

She added that Capitol’s move to question the manner and procedure of the project is consistent with the power stipulated in the Local Government Code which shall be exercised to promote and protect the general welfare of its constituents. 

No transparency

Garcia said the Manila Bay aesthetic project utilizing the dolomite resources from the Province clearly lacks public transparency, adding that she has only learned it from the Manila media. 

She shared that Alburo was very evasive when they first talked about the matter even if they already had issued the OTP.

“There was no public transparency and consultation with the community affected,” the governor said.

“Even the Local Government of Alcoy, ang ilang nasabtan inyo nang i-export. Wa man gani masayod nga ang dolomite gikan sa Alcoy himuon naman diay substitute as white sand didto sa Manila Bay. Unya ngano ni issue man mog OTP? That was rather unusual, isn’t it? The Ore Transport Permit is really for what has been the recognize purpose nianang dolomite. Nganong ni issue man ang MGB og OTP,” Garcia added.

Engineer Armando Malicse, MGB 7 chief science research specialist of Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division, said they will abide with the decision of the governor to disapprove the pending OTP applications. 

Garcia said she will look into the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) the mining company has entered with the government to mine for 25 years or until 2030.

“I will not allow while I am the governor that this MPSAs will be used in impunity and abuse,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Borgonia authored a resolution to be filed before the 15th Sangguniang Panlalawigan condemning Alburo for the issuance of OTP which led to the extraction of mineral resources in Alcoy in the absence of public transparency and consultation of Cebuanos and in utmost disregard to the authority of the Local Government of the Province of Cebu. (Mylen Manto)