DENR asked to revoke ECC for golf course plan
One of the complainants in the illegal black sand mining case in Pangasinan province has asked Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to revoke the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued for a golf course project in coastal areas in Lingayen town.
In his letter to Paje dated March 6, Rolando Rea said the ECC did not include the construction of a 3-kilometer, 1.83-meter (6-foot) tall concrete wall spanning the towns of Sabangan, Estanza and Malimpuec.
“The ECC did not include the construction of the wall which prohibits residents of the barangays from accessing the sea, their source of livelihood,” said Rea in the letter to Paje.
“Should not the residents’ welfare be taken into consideration when a government project is implemented?” Rea said, citing a copy of the ECC issued to the Pangasinan government.
“Because the wall was not included in the project’s components, isn’t its construction a violation of the ECC? Is it not illegal to construct a wall without an ECC?” he said.
“May we request your good office to cancel the ECC issued to the provincial government for the golf project? This would give a big relief to residents who have no idea what is happening behind the wall,” he said in a statement, quoting the letter.
The ECC, issued in January 2013, was issued to the provincial government of Pangasinan represented by then Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan.
The project’s components included greens, tee mounds, tee houses, driving range, fairways and rough area, irrigation system facilities, lagoons, car paths and gutter, road networks, clubhouse, caddy house, maintenance area and nursery area.
Aside from the concrete wall, Rea said the provincial government also built a road outside the walled area, which is also not included in the components of the project covered by the ECC.
Rea said research done by him and other critics of the project showed that golf courses are classified as environmentally critical projects that should have no place in environmentally critical areas like the Lingayen Gulf.
A proclamation issued by former President Fidel Ramos had declared the gulf as environmentally critical.
“Proclamation No. 1258 segregated areas in Sabangan, Estanza, Malimpuec and Capandanan as ecotourism zones, but it specified that projects must be sustainable. A golf course, which uses tremendous amounts of water, could not be called sustainable,” said Rea.
Rea said the provincial government allowed two companies to embark on black sand mining activities at the site of the golf course project.
The complaint against the illegal magnetite mining operations in Lingayen has resulted in the dismissal of Baraan and Alvin Bigay, head of the Provincial Housing Urban Development Council Office, for grave misconduct.
The Ombudsman also ordered the cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service of the two officials.
Xypher Builders Inc., which was tapped to build the golf course, was found to have shipped out black sand or magnetite from the stockpile in Lingayen to a private port in Sual.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has since denied Xypher’s application for an ECC for its mineral processing plant.
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