TACLOBAN CITY—Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone has filed a bill seeking to declare the province as mining-free.
In his bill, Evardone said the proposed measure would put a stop to irresponsible mining practices in Eastern Samar that Evardone said were being tolerated by the province’s governor.
The bill, the congressman said, was filed in response to a call by the League of Municipalities (LMP) in Eastern Samar and the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the diocese of Borongan to suspend mining operations in the province.
Should it become law, mining would have to stop in Homonhon and Manicani islands, off the town of Guiuan, Borongan City, and the towns of Salcedo, Gen. MacArthur, Llorente, Hernani, Maydolong, Giporlos, Balangiga and Quinapondan.
Firms operating in these areas are extracting chromite.
The bill seeks to penalize violators with jail terms of at least six years and fines of up to P500,000.
Foreigners violating the law would be deported, the bill provided.
Some areas, because of their peculiar soil composition and geological setting, need to be preserved and protected against mining, the bill said. Eastern Samar is one such place, Evardone said.
The MGB geohazard map for Eastern Samar showed that the province was highly susceptible to landslides and flash floods.
Roger De Dios, MGB director for Eastern Visayas, had asked Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to suspend all small-scale mining permits in Eastern Samar because their operations were far from small scale and have been destroying the environment.
Bishop Crispin Varquez, of the Borongan diocese, has also called for a stop to mining in Eastern Samar.
“People are the ones suffering and these very aggressive mining operations are dividing our people,” said the bishop.