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Pangasinan groups broaden mining protest

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12:59 AM November 25th, 2012

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November 25th, 2012 12:59 AM

PANGASINAN residents rally in Quezon City to protest black sand mining, which they said threatens the livelihood of fishermen. They also called on the Ombudsman to suspend the province’s governor, Amado Espino Jr., who has been charged with allowing mining activities without permits. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

BAGUIO CITY—A group of Pangasinan residents opposing the extraction of black sand in coastal villages in the capital town of Lingayen mounted protest rallies in front of offices of national government agencies, including the Office of the Ombudsman, to alert authorities about environmental problems in the province.

During the protest rallies on Nov. 21, the Pangasinan

Salacniban also chided organizers of the Miss Earth pageant for choosing Pangasinan as the host of its prepageant activities from Nov. 17 to 19.

Pangasinan Salacniban is an alliance of people’s organizations from the province that include Aro Mo Ako Sambayanan (Aromas), Bantay Kalikasan Movement, Alcalanians for Responsible Quarrying Movement and Kilusan ng mga Maralitang Mangingisda ng Binmaley.

“We had no choice but to come to Metro Manila to inform our national officials of the environmental destruction delivered to us by our local leaders,” said Vicente Oliquino, a Lingayen barangay official and head of Pangasinan Salacniban.

Oliquino’s group has been protesting the extraction of black sand from a government property in coastal villages of Lingayen. The area is being developed into an ecotourism destination and also features a golf course.

Provincial administrator Rafael Baraan, in various forums in the province and through statements, said there was no black sand mining in Lingayen. He said the provincial government only needed to remove the black sand to make the area suitable for grasses needed for the golf course’s development.

The protesters first set up camp at the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City, where they grilled milk fish at the compound.

“We wanted [employees of] the Office of the Ombudsman to taste the fish from whatever is left of the clean waters of Pangasinan before it is too late. Several years from now, there may be no more tasty bangus from [the province] due to water pollution,” Oliquino said in a statement.

The group had filed graft complaints against Pangasinan officials, including Gov. Amado Espino Jr., for the black sand extraction.

The group also rallied at the offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Inquirer Northern Luzon

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