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Ebdane mining permits invalid–DENR

/ 10:37 PM July 06, 2012

OLONGAPO CITY—The mining permits issued to six small-scale mines in  Masinloc, Zambales, which have been linked to alleged mineral theft, are not valid, and their owners are operating illegally, according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials.

Lormelyn Claudio, Central Luzon director of the Environmental Management Bureau, said these permits were issued by Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

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“There’s a provision in the small-scale permits that say they must have an ECC (environmental compliance certificate), and they don’t have it. So what they’re doing [there] is illegal,” she said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

She added that small-scale miners should not have been operating in the first place because of their lack of environmental clearance.

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Ebdane is facing graft charges, filed on July 2 by Benicio Eusebio, Consolidated Mines Inc. (CMI) president, who complained that the small-scale miners, aided allegedly by some Zambales officials, have been dipping into the CMI stockpile at the Coto mines in Masinloc.

The theft, which dates back to October 2011 at the time the Ebdane-issued permits took effect, has cost CMI P200 million, according to Eusebio.

Ebdane on Thursday did not issue a statement, but Senior Supt. Francisco Santiago, Zambales police director, and one of the respondents in the case, said he did nothing wrong.

In a text message sent to the Inquirer on Thursday, Santiago said: “I do not remember any takeover that I did. Are you sure that’s my name that you read? I haven’t received any notice yet [from the Office of the Ombudsman].”

“I cannot comment [on] anything because I have not been informed of the complaint against me,” he said. “If the Ombudsman has an official notice [about the complaint filed by] CMI against me … I will answer it officially in court.”

Claudio had shut down the six mines, through cease-and-desist orders  transmitted to small-scale miners Camilo Esico, Reynaldo Dait, Dennis Ocon, Efren Melgar, Amor Echon and Jeff Elago,  citing violations of the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System Act.

Asked about the status of these orders, Claudio said they remained in effect. She said Esico and Elago also failed to secure a restraining order against these orders.

In his complaint, Eusebio claimed that police officials, led by Santiago, escorted the small-scale miners to the Coto mines, and had set up a roadblock to screen people and motorists entering the area. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon

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TAGS: DENR, Environmental Issues, Masinloc, Mining
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