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EMB fines firm extracting black sand

/ 10:52 PM March 02, 2012

DAGUPAN CITY—The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has ordered the company involved in magnetite or black sand extraction along the shorelines of Lingayen Gulf to pay a P50,000 fine for operating without an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

In a letter on Feb. 27, Joel Salvador, EMB director in the Ilocos, rejected the claim of Xypher Builders Inc. (XBI) that it did not violate any environmental law, specifically Presidential Decree No. 156, which declared the Lingayen Gulf as environmentally critical, when it hauled black sand from an ecotourism project site in the capital Lingayen.

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Lolita Bolayog, XBI president, earlier wrote the EMB saying another decree segregated parcels of land in four villages of Lingayen from the environmentally critical area as these were reserved for ecotourism and other sustainable activities and projects.

The provincial government entered into a memorandum of agreement with Xypher to remove black sand in the area to prepare it for a golf course under its ecotourism project in the villages of Sabangan, Estanza, Malimpuec and Capandanan in Lingayen. Xypher, however, stopped its operations after the EMB issued a cease-and-desist order against the firm on Jan. 26.

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Salvador said the firm needed an ECC because the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had classified golf courses as environmentally critical projects.

“Even assuming that the area was not a part of an environmentally critical area, the company’s activities for the purpose of establishing a golf course still needs an ECC,” he said.

The golf course is part of a tourism project of the provincial government in Lingayen.

Salvador, in a telephone interview, said the provincial government did not reply to the EMB’s Jan. 30 letter informing Gov. Amado Espino Jr. that his office should have secured an ECC first before undertaking its ecotourism project.

In his state of the province address on Feb. 13, Espino said his administration would remain steadfast against what he called “obstructionists” to the provincial government’s development projects.

“Let me invite all of you to see for your own selves the progress of work now taking place in that once barren and abandoned portion of the western barangays of Lingayen,” said Espino.

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Espino and other Pangasinan officials were sued before the Office of the Ombudsman on Jan. 16 for allegedly violating antigraft and mining laws when they allowed the firms Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures and XBI to haul out black sand from a proposed golf course on a government land that has been offered to investors. Yolanda Sotelo and Marla Viray, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: EMB, Environmental Issues, environmental management bureau, Lingayen Gulf
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