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Stop order not for entire dolomite extractions, Gov clarifies
By: Mylen Manto | Published Thursday, September 10, 2020
In a September 10 press conference, Gov. Gwen Garcia clarifies that the stop order issued to the dolomite mining company in Alcoy town is for the transport of dolomite sand in Manila Bay, not the existing extraction operation. (Junjie Mendoza)

The Cease and Desist Order (CDO) issued by the Cebu Provincial Government was meant to stop the domestic sale of dolomite, associated mineral deposits, and other quarry resources sourced from Alcoy town, not for the existing operations of Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC).

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia clarified in a press conference on Thursday, September 10 that she did not order to stop the dolomite extractions in Barangay Pugalo covered by the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) which DMC and the state entered into.

What the governor is trying to stop are the issuances of the three Ore Transport Permit (OTP) applications pending before the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7.

MGB 7 earlier confirmed that they issued two OTPs to PMSC for the delivery of 7,000 wet metric tons of dolomite to Manila Bay as a substitute to white sand for the aesthetic project.

Garcia said the three pending OTPs, if approved, would allow the transport of 10,500 wet metric tons of dolomite to fill up the Manila Bay in Manila.

“Tungod niini nga kasayuran, mihukom ako sa pag-issue og Cease and Desist Order batok sa padayon nga pag-issue og Ore Transport Permit. Klaruhon ta ni, ang Cease and Desist Order nakatutok sa pagpadayon sa pag-issue og Ore Transport Permit aron maundang dayon ang pag-transport og dolomite gikan sa Alcoy, gikan sa atong Probinsya sa Sugbo aron dad-on didto sa Luzon, dad-on didto sa Manila Bay,” she said.

“Ngano gihimo ko kini, kay duna kitay mga pangutana kabahin sa pamaligya og padayon nga pamaligya sa PMSC sa dolomite, nga matod pa nila ilang gibaligyaan, ilang gigamit as substitute for sand and gravel,” Garcia added. 

OTP is a permit required for the transport of non-processed mineral ores and minerals wherein the origin and quantity of the cargo are specified.

Each OTP contains 3,500 wet metric tons of mineral ores and minerals worth P1,643,250.

Capitol Consultants Atty. Marina Martinquilla and environmentalist lawyer Benjamin Cabrido, as well as Provincial Treasurer Atty. Roy Salubre joined the press conference. 

In 2005, DMC entered into an MPSA with the Republic of the Philippines to mine for 25 years or until 2030. DMC sells the extracted dolomite to PMSC, which has a mineral processing permit (MPP) issued by MGB, for processing and sale. 

Garcia said she knew of the dolomite extraction in Alcoy. 

“Ang katapusan nga MPSA na issue pag 2005, gobernador ko. Apan sulod niining katuigan hangtod nibiya ko ang gamit sa maong MPSA sa DMC mao lamang sa pag-extract aron iprocess sa PMSC, ang ilang sister company but lahi nga kompanya kay ibaligya ngadto sa Japan og Korea kay himuon as material for the production of glass and steel,” she said.

“Actually, yes, 40 years nani. Wala tay gubot ani kay klaro man ang nahabutang og tumong og tinguha nga na issuehan sila og MPSA kay kini para gamiton export. As of 2005, kay kada MPSA duna may work program, ang atong assumptions mao, ang ilang assumptions mao, mao ni ang estimated volume nga makuha within 25 years in accordance with the projected foreign market,” Garcia added.

When she returned to the gubernatorial seat in 2019, Garcia issued a memorandum suspending all quarry permits and the immediate suspension of all sand and gravel permits issued by the Capitol, pending review. This was aimed to stop illegal quarrying activities and prevent the further degradation of the environment. 

Days after the effectivity of the memorandum, the Cebu Provincial Police Office apprehended a vehicle carrying gravel in the municipality of Ginatilan, southern Cebu. Instead of presenting a delivery receipt, what was presented was an OTP issued to PMSC.

Right then, they discovered that PMSC was selling locally.

Domestic selling

Because of that, Garcia called for a meeting with PMSC in August 2019 and informed them that selling dolomites domestically is not allowed.

“So mao tong nagpa-meeting ta nila and niingon ta dili mani pwede, namaligya naman mos probinsya, dili man nga gi-mine ni ninyo para inyong i-export. Wala naman ninyo gamita ang dolomite as material for the production of glass or steel as envisioned in the MPSA. So, in other words, duna moy bayranan sa probinsya kay resources mani sa probinsya,” the governor told the processing company.

“Ikaduha unsa may impact niini kay additional volume naman ni, mapuno naman ni nga makutkot diha sa Alcoy kay duna namay domestic market,” she added.

Garcia said because they were selling domestically, they have to secure proper permits from the Cebu Provincial Government.

She emphasized that with the extracted dolomites intended for export but now sold locally, the company has been earning without paying the proper taxes to the government.

Salubre said their office issued a notice to PMSC last year to secure a waste disposal permit but the company failed to comply. 

Garcia shared that even Carmen Copper Corporation in Toledo City which has an MPSA secured a waste disposal permit from the Province to process their deposits into sand and gravel upon seeing the demand.

She said she is only protecting Cebu and ensuring that Cebuanos are given their due.

The direction of the governor, Cabrido said, is to see to it that the DMC and PMSC did not go beyond what is allowed by the law.

Also, the extraction activity will not affect the carrying capacity in the area which is also the natural habitat of the Siloy or Black Shama, an endangered species found in the forests of Alcoy. 

Carrying capacity refers to the capacity of natural and human environments to accommodate and absorb change without experiencing conditions of instability and attendant degradation.

Cabrido said the Province will check if the requirements for the issuance of the OTP issued by MGB 7 were complied with, such as prior consultation and obtaining the approval from the Sanggunian concerned. 

The Capitol will also check if the mining company submitted an environmental protection and enhanced program (EPEP) from 2005 to 2030 as required under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. 

Through EPEP, the company ensures that the impacts of its activities are mitigated and measures are in place in compliance with existing laws, rules and regulations. 

Meanwhile, on the same day of the press conference, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) conducted an aerial survey in the dolomite mining area in Alcoy town as ordered by the governor.

Garcia said she wanted to assess the area to avoid another Naga incident in 2018 where a massive landslide killed at least 78 individuals and left hundreds homeless. (Mylen Manto)