Zambales gov accused of role in mining theft
OLONGAPO CITY—A mining company has accused Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. of issuing mining permits to rival firms which are allegedly engaged in mineral theft.
Benicio Eusebio, president of Consolidated Mines Inc. (CMI), a company based in Masinloc, Zambales, said Ebdane issued in 2011 at least six small-scale mining permits, with one covering existing chromite stockpiles from more than 50 years of mining by Benguet Corp. and CMI in Coto Mines in that town.
Eusebio said that to date, more than 35,000 metric tons, valued at P81 million, had been hauled by these six small-scale mining firms to a newly constructed port owned by another firm in the area.
Eusebio said three vessels already loaded with chromite, totaling 20,000 MT, had sailed out to China.
Eusebio said Arsenia Lim, owner of Shyne Trading and Trucking Corp. who entered into a sales agreement with Benguet Corp. over the same stockpile, had also been victimized by the small-scale mining firms.
But in Baguio City, Ebdane said he was being criticized for large-scale mining activities in his province. “I’m not getting flak from small-scale mining. I get flak from large-scale mining,” he said.
Ebdane, who attended the Philippine Military Academy homecoming on Saturday, said he has no stake in mining activities in his province for which his administration has been criticized.
He said his only task is to push operators to secure environmental licenses, including black sand operations.
“They’ve been trying to pin me down about the operations of large-scale mining. But large-scale mining is beyond the authority of the governor. I told the people if they don’t comply with environmental requirements, then so be it, we close it. It’s OK with me because mining offers little benefit to the province,” he said.
Ebdane said the provincial government receives only 2 percent from large-scale mining proceeds and only the national government benefits from the operations.
Small-scale mining activities, he said, had been helping improve the economy, particularly the retrieval of black sand for export.
“We have no problem like [the black sand quarrying in] Pangasinan, La Union and the Ilocos because for us black sand is waste polluting the rivers,” he said. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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