Aquino asked to stop mining on historic Homonhon Island
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—An environmental group has sought the intervention of President Aquino for the cancellation of the permit issued to a mining company on the historic island of Homonhon Island, off Guiuan town in Eastern Samar.
The group, Save Isla Homonhon Movement (SIHM), claimed that Emir Mineral Resources Corp. (EMRC) had violated Republic Act 7942, or the Mining Act, because the area identified for its exploration activities formed part of a watershed.
Based on Section 19 paragraph of RA 7942, mineral agreement or financial or technical assistance agreement applications are not to be allowed in old-growth or virgin forests, proclaimed watershed forest reserves and wilderness areas, among others.
“The claimed area is considered our protected area where our watershed is at stake (and) where our plantations and valuable crops are threatened,” the group said in its letter dated April 23.
The EMRC was granted an exploration permit by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau on April 6, 2010, for a 279.13-hectare area located at barangays (villages) Casuguran and Canawayun, which have a combined population of more than 2,000 people.
The company plans to extract nickel, which is said to be abundant on Homonhon, the island where Ferdinand Magellan first landed on March 16, 1521.
The SIHM claimed that allowing Mandaluyong-based EMRC to conduct exploration on Homonhon would not only result in destruction of its environment but could also lead to the loss of the people’s livelihood.
“We don’t want mining,” SIHM chairman Daniel Lagos said in a phone interview Tuesday, claiming that only a few who stand to benefit from mining were the ones in favor of it. “And in the end, the people are the real loser,” he added.
Romeo Babatugon, chief of the mining supervising unit of the Region 8 office of the MGB, said that the EMRC has started its exploration in the area but that it could not conduct any mining operation because it was issued only an exploration permit.
“They cannot excavate yet, otherwise, the exploration permit issued to it could be canceled,” Babatugon said.
SIHM sent copies of its petition to Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the provincial government of Eastern Samar and the municipal government of Guiuan.
“We want the immediate intervention of the President and Secretary Paje concerning this matter because this mining claim of Emir Mineral Resources Corp. is so near the community and this will put the community in a dangerous situation if a calamity occurs,” Lagos said.
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