Governor's Office Asked To Stop Issuing Mining Special Permits

      The regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had asked the Governor's Office to stop issuing special permits to mining-related activities, pending compliance of the standard procedures by the permit holders.

      This was after MGB-7 found some undesirable quarry and mining activities in sites of permit holders.

      Provincial Administrator Tomas Abapo Jr. forwarded the MGB-7 report to Bohol Environmental Management Office (BEMO) Head Rene Villaber.

      A team from MGB-7 inspected at least six sites of mining, quarrying and mineral processing operations in the towns of Loon, Talibon, Alicia, and Candijay on July 3, a day before the scheduled regular meeting of the Bohol Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB-Bohol).

      The team was composed of by MGB Senior Environmental Management Specialist Ramcie Brillante, Lawyer Gerardo Mahusay, and OIC-Mining Operations Officer Raul Laput, together with MGB-7 OIC-Regional Director Roger De Dios, who is also the chairman of PMRB-Bohol.

      Based on the field monitoring, Brillante, Mahusay, and Laput submitted to De Dios, a report entitled "Field Monitoring of Certain Mining/Quarrying and Mineral Processing Operations in the Province of Bohol" dated July 9, 2008.

      Referring to the provincial government's continued issuance of special permits to mining-related activities, one of the concerns discussed during the July 4 meeting of the PMRB-Bohol, De Dios told Governor Erico Aumentado, in a letter dated July 23, 2008, that "it had somehow contributed to the difficulty in the management of the mining or quarry activities in the province".

      "With this observed predicament, it was unanimously resolved to respectfully request your good office to discontinue the issuance of special permits to mining-related activities, unless, standard procedures are followed and certain requirements are complied with- -that is Area Clearance from MGB-7 and Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the EMB-7 (Environmental Management Bureau in Region 7)," De Dios stated in his July 23 letter, to which the report was attached.

      As among the recommendations contained in the report, the MGB team advised the BEMO to make a follow-up field monitoring on the mining, quarrying, and mineral processing operations in the province.

      During the MGB team's field monitoring at a limestone quarrying site operated by Maximo Rulona in barangay Pondol, municipality of Loon, they noted indications of fresh mechanized limestone quarrying and stockpiling of manually crushed limestones that also showed an extraction done in a generally systematic way with established benches.

      But they failed to actually chance on an actual operation because work was temporarily stopped then because of the rain.

      The team learned that "operations in the area were jointly undertaken by Cesar Maluenda and Marcela Farms, Inc."

      On this, the team requires a written agreement between Rulona, the permit holder, and Cesar Maluenda, the operator. The document must be submitted and registered with the BEMO, and that MGB-7 be furnished a copy for information or reference.

      In barangay Catagbacan, also in Loon, the MGB-7 team found out that the permit for the site of Marcela Farms, Inc., had already expired and that quarrying activities had long been stopped.

      In fact, certain portions of the area were already covered by vegetation, grasses, and vines. Moreover, shrubs, bushes and thin branches of trees and plants had made the road leading to the quarry site less accessible.

      For this, the MGB team recommended that the abandoned small-scale permit area of Marcela Farms, Inc. should be rehabilitated immediately based on the submitted rehabilitation plan, subject to subsequent monitoring by MGB, the report stated.

      At the site of Balamban Concrete Aggregates and Construction Co., Inc., a permit and MPP holder, in barangay Tanghaligue, Talibon, the MGB team noted the ongoing silica extraction and hauling operations which were reportedly stopped for several days after some plant accessories broke down and were under repair then.

      MGB-7 learned that the processing plant was in normal operation since January this year until the recent field monitoring and "was only interrupted by minor breakdowns".

      Records also showed that Balamban Concrete Aggregates and Construction Co., Inc. continued to deliver silica materials, using delivery receipts issued by the Bohol Provincial Treasurer's Office.

      The team also found out that the company processed silica materials and delivered them to various end-users "without Ore Transport Permits (OTPs) issued by MGB".

      On this, the MGB-7 team recommended that Balamban Concrete Aggregates and Construction, Inc. be penalized for the deliveries of silica materials without securing OTPs from MGB and for misrepresentation made in the submitted monthly production reports.

      At the site of former Dauis Mayor Joel Bomediano, a special permit holder, in barangay Cabatang, municipality of Alicia, the team noted an ongoing selective and unsystematic mechanized operation using backhoe and that the personnel supervising the quarry area did not issue any delivery receipt to dump trucks hauling quarry materials from the site.

      On this, the MGB team recommended for the immediate review on Bomediano's special permit and check if it the project had complied with the basic requirements, including MGB-7 Area Clearance and ECC from EMB-7, "otherwise, it may be suspended or revoked".

      Also, Bomediano should be made to institute necessary corrective measures in the quarry area. Appropriate warning and/or sanction may also be imposed for non-issuance of delivery receipts, the MGB-7 team stressed.

      In Barangay Napo, Alicia, the MGB team observed that at a site operated by Rodrigo Labunog, a permit holder, the operations used two backhoes and extraction was unsystematic without defined benches.

      "Extracted materials at the other side of the hill ready for hauling was reportedly owned by Alturas," the MGB-7 team stated in the report.

      They also found out that duplicate copies of the delivery receipts issued contained no dates and the space for it were left blank.

      In the same site, another permit holder, Sergio Uy used a backhoe in extracting materials and its operation was observed to be selective with no defined benches, the MGB-7 noted.

      For Labanog and Uy, the MGB team advised them to institute corrective measures in their respective quarry areas by adopting appropriate benching patterns.

      MGB-7 also recommended that Labanog should explain and be sanctioned for "apparent recycling of delivery receipts".

      The MGB team also required Labanog and Alturas to submit a written agreement between them and be registered with BEMO, and furnish MGB a copy of the document for information or reference.

      In Candijay, wherein no permit holder was identified, an investigation was conducted after Councilor Jesse Sales passed a resolution strongly opposing the continuance of manganese mining in sitio Pangpang, in Barangay Panas, and in Barangay Can-olin, and the other barangays hosting illegal mining activities.

      The resolution recommended its immediate stoppage "due to the disastrous effects on the environment".

      Upon verification with the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) records, it was learned that said resolution was still on the second reading on May 5.

      Candijay Mayor Sergio Amora Jr. also told the team that Sales, was already replaced as chairman of the SB Committee on Environment on June 30, by Councilor Timoteo Pesaña, the vice-chairman. - Sunday Post