Cases loom over 3-km black sand mining wall
Officials of Pangasinan province face another case in the Ombudsman over the use of public funds for a 3-kilometer wall that residents of the coastal town of Lingayen said not only protected illegal black sand mining but also denied fishermen access to the sea.
Rolando Rea, a resident of Lingayen who had sued Gov. Amado Espino Jr. and other provincial officials for black sand mining in his town, had asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to dismantle the wall for being illegal.
“Public funds have been appropriated for this anomalous project and those involved in this anomaly should be held accountable,” Rea said.
“If the DENR won’t remove the structures, we will be compelled to file a case to pave the way for the demolition of the illegal structure,” he said.
Residents of coastal villages in Lingayen are up in arms against the 6-foot high wall which they claimed had allowed the illegal quarrying of black sand in the area.
In a statement, Rea said the concrete barrier had no permit from the DENR.
Completed in 2012, he said the structure straddled the waters of the seaside villages of Estanza, Sabangan and Maimpuec in Lingayen. He said the residents referred to it as the “Great Wall of Lingayen.”
Besides filing graft charges in the Ombudsman, he said residents would ask the Commission on Audit (COA) to look into how the provincial government spent public funds for the project.
“Since DENR has not issued any permit or ECC (environment compliance certificate) for the magnetite mining, all structures related to it, including the so-called Great Wall of Lingayen, should be dismantled,” Rea said.
In a letter to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Rea said armed men had been guarding the concrete structure round-the-clock which, he said, “deprives the residents of access to the sea which is the source of the livelihood of most poor residents.”
He said the structure has been preventing fishermen from going out to sea for at least five years already.
He said black sand mining had also heavily eroded the shores of the villages.
He said the cases that residents filed against the local officials over black sand mining in Lingayen had led to the dismissal from government service of provincial administrator Rafael Baraan and Provincial Housing Urban Development Council Office head Alvin Bigay for grave misconduct.
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