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Gov to Alcoy: Speak up
By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Friday, September 11, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia tells Alcoy officials to speak up about the controversial transport of crushed dolomite mined from their town and used as filling material for Manila Bay. (Junjie Mendoza)

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia urged the Municipality of Alcoy to come up with a statement on the controversial transport of crushed dolomite as filling material for Manila Bay. 

“Continued silence from Alcoy is very telling,” expressed Garcia in a meeting on Thursday, September 10 with Alcoy Mayor Michael Angelo Sestoso and Vice Mayor Jimmy Abajon.

Dolomite is mined in the southern Cebu town in the last 40 years and exported to Japan and Korea as a raw material for the manufacture of steel and glass. 

However, this sedimentary rock composed of calcium magnesium carbonate is now also sold domestically as substitute for sand and gravel.

Sestoso and Abajon tried to defend around 300 jobs that Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC) have created for local employment and municipal income. 

But, Garcia reminded them of greater loss as 70 percent of the supposed income in the sale of waste deposits went down the drain. Such could have gone to the municipal coffers at a share of 30 percent and 40 percent to Barangay Pugalo.

Supposedly, the two companies should have secured a waste disposal permit, the governor said, citing the responsible practice of Carmen Copper Corporation in Toledo City.

“Parehas na sa Carmen Copper nga nag-mining og copper ug nagbaligya abroad. Unya duna man sila’y tailings, or deposits crushed and sold as sand and gravel. Mikuha gyud na sila’g waste disposal permit. Naka-income ang barangay, naka-income ang city,” she explained.

Moreover, Garcia underscored that public servants are accountable to the people they are serving, and not beholden to the said companies.

“Ang akong expectation nga mi-fight na man ko para ninyo, mo-fight sad mo para ninyo. Kay wala gyud na sila’y gibayad ninyo bisan usa ka dako,” the governor stressed. 

As the two Alcoy officials continued to express a need to communicate first with the mining operators, Garcia emphasized that there shouldn’t be any interest to be catered to other than the interest of the Province of Cebu.

“Ako ning gibuhat nga posisyon dili tungod kay maka-kwarta ko ani. Wala koy usa ka dako niini. Kay kon mao pa, pabuta-bungol na lang unta ko. Ako na lang i-excuse nga pasagdi na lang usa na, ayaw na lang ko ninyo disturboha kay namatyan ko diri’g duha ka igsoon. Dili ko maghasol-hasol ani kay naa ko’y klarong rason. I just hope nga parehas ta’g hunahuna. Kay para nako wala’y laing importante kundi ang Probinsya,” an emphatic governor stated.

“Bisan unsa pa akong gipaminaw ug unsa akong gipamati, Probinsya gyud maoy akong depensahan,” Garcia added.

“What do we expect from the Municipality of Alcoy? In the midst of all of these, dili man mahimo nga ako lang magsige og tingog. Continued silence from Alcoy is very telling. Kay naa man situated sa Alcoy, kamo ma’y nag-host aning duha ka kumpanya,” Garcia told Sestoso and Abajon.

“Alcoy has to come up with a statement. Nga after all kamo mismo nga nag-host niining duha ka kumpanya dugay na nga wala naka-realize sa income nga angay unta madawat sa Alcoy, nga madawat sa barangay. Kay kanang ilang pagbutang anang ilang kumpanya diha dili man kay para mamaligya sila og sand and gravel. Pero karon namaligya naman sila locally. Ang tanang nag-quarry diha nagbayad, apan kini sila nag-quarry operations nga wala’y bayad-bayad kay ang gigamit nila kadtong otoridad nga naghatag og poder sa pagmina ug pagbaligya abroad,” Garcia further said.

The Provincial Board (PB) is set to issue a statement in condemning the issuance of ore transport permit which led to the filling of the Manila Baywalk with crushed dolomite from Cebu as alternative to sand.

By way of an ordinance, Cebu 3rd district PB Member Jimbo Borgonia, chairperson of the Committee on the Environment, assured Garcia that the Board will come up with a stronger position which carries with it the weight of a local law. 

The governor further clarified that this position on the matter is of the Cebu Provincial Government as represented by the Governor and the PB, not of Gwen Garcia.

Garcia feared that a similar tragedy like that of the September 2018 incident in the City of Naga might happen in Alcoy.

She cited that the 25-year Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP) of the said companies only involves mining operations, not quarrying.

“Sa usa ka tuig, 1.5 to 2 million cubic meters ilang kubkubon kay moapas man sila sa demand. Wala man na maapil sa ilang schedule nga extraction, unsa may impact ana, mangapahak ug mo-level down na ang mga bukid,” the governor explained.

“Mao nay nahitabo sa Naga. Unya sa tragedy diha kinsa may manubag ana? I will not sit back. That will be another catastrophe. We are forbidding any more sale locally until there is a proper work program presented on environmental rehabilitation, whether or not the habitat can take it,” she added. (Eleanor Valeros)