An inspection of the seabed in barangay Pugalo, Alcoy showed heavy siltation and damage to the area’s marine ecosystem, raising the possibility of the issuance of another cease and desist order against the mining firms.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia asked the environment bureau to investigate, after aerial photos and videos were presented by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO) in a meeting with representatives of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and the Philippine Mining Services Corporation (PMSC) on Thursday, September 17.
Environmentalist group Sea Knights found that particles from the crushed dolomite fall to the sea when transported to the bulk carrier vessels through a conveyor belt.
Initial reports submitted to PENRO indicated that corals were destroyed within 500 meters of seawater because of heavy siltation, causing the corals and the seabed to turn white.
Earlier, the Provincial Government issued a cease and desist order to DMC and PMSC for the act of selling the dolomite as substitute for sand and gravel in the domestic market, which is not covered by their permits.
The governor raised questions on the companies’ work program, and wants to look into the environmental compliance certificates issued, as well as the allowable minerals to be extracted as covered by the contract. A work program obtained by the Province showed conflicting numbers as against the actual production.
The firms must secure a governor’s permit and pay taxes.
“Let me reiterate. We are not against the Manila Bay beach nourishment project. Wa mi mag apil-apil ana because you (DENR) would always nourish the beach by getting your resources elsewhere. But you are getting resources from the Province supplied by DMC, extracted by DMC, and under the provincial ordinance, our Tax Code, they are supposed to pay 10 percent of the fair market value of quarry resource,” the governor said.
“I will not have you shortchanging the Probinsyanos,” she told representatives of the mining firms.
Capitol consultant Atty. Benjamin Cabrido Jr. cited legal provisions on the authority of the Province to tax entities engaged in the extraction of all minerals, quarry and sand and gravel resources by “holders of permits, licenses, contracts or agreements issued by entities other than the Province of Cebu.”
Article E, Section 24 of Provincial Ordinance No. 2008-10 states that the Province shall impose a tax of 10 percent of the local fair market value per cubic meter for all ordinary stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Cebu.
Provincial Treasurer Atty. Roy Salubre said that based on their computation, DMC and PMSC will have to pay P726,923.077 to the Province for the 7,000 metric tons of dolomite shipped earlier to Manila.
The governor stressed that the Capitol’s issue against the two firms was their failure to get a permit for their quarry operations, as their permit is for mining.
Aside from payment of taxes, the company is asked to get a governor’s permit for their quarrying operations.
Section 182 states that any entity or person is required to get one when it intends to “extract, take and dispose of any of the minerals and quarry resources” within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province.
Garcia said that they are looking for a “fair, transparent and accountable way” of responding to the issue because as government, “we answer to the people.” (Vanessa L. Almeda)