Chinese-crewed dredging ship moves out of Lobo waters
SAN PEDRO CITY- The 2,990-ton Chinese-crewed hopper dredger MV Emerald has moved out of the waters of Lobo town in Batangas province Friday morning.
“It left between 6 to 7 this morning,” said Barangay (village) Lagardlarin captain Mafriel Dimaano in a phone interview.
Dimaano said he was not aware where the ship had gone, although Seagate Engineering and Buildsystems, the company which chartered the ship from Singapore, earlier said they planned to move it to the international port in Batangas City per instructions from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). Batangas City is adjacent to Lobo.
The hopper dredger, which carried a Chinese crew and arrived unannounced and anchored off the fishing village of Lagadlarin in Lobo last week. Residents were alarmed after it was learned that the ship will be used to dredge the Lobo River.
A 2008 memorandum of agreement between Seagate and the Lobo municipal government allowed the company to dredge up to 2 million cubic meters of sand from a 6.5-kilometer stretch of the Lobo River at no cost to the town.
Seagate was to sell the sand for $2 per metric ton to Synergy Plus Holdings Ltd. for the reclamation and construction of the Hong Kong International Airport Three Runway System.
Lobo Mayor Gaudioso Manalo ordered the vessel out, claiming Seagate did not secure a permit from his office. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources also suspended Seagate’s environmental compliance certificates when the company failed to secure clearances from other government agencies, such as the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
Commodore Artemio Abu, the Coast Guard’s district commander in Southern Luzon, said the company has been paying P35,000 a day as anchorage fee to the PPA since it dropped anchor.
Abu said the vessel is already in the anchorage area in Batangas City.
“We’d rather it moved out if only to quell the noise (in the community),” Abu said. /muf
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