Black sand quarrying in Lingayen village draws protests
The hauling of hundreds of tons of black sand from a village on the coast of Lingayen Gulf, which coincided with a provincial government project to build a golf course in the area, came under protest from villagers who demanded a stop to the sand extraction.
Vicente Oliquino, member of the council of Barangay Sabangan, said villagers were surprised at the large-scale extraction of sand that started in June.
“We did not know what was happening. Nobody informed us,” said Oliquino.
The residents knew that extracting sand would destroy their environment so they started writing authorities, hoping to stop it.
In a petition written in Filipino, they opposed black sand quarrying because they feared that seawater would seep into agricultural lands when sand from the beach is removed. They also feared flooding.
MGB order ignored
Four months after sand quarrying here started, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a memorandum recommending the cancellation of the small-scale mining permit issued to Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures (Amov).
The MGB investigation team said the provincial government issued Amov a small-scale mining permit even without clearance from the agency.
The recommendation, addressed to MGB Regional Director Carlos Tayag, also ordered Amov to cease and desist from further extracting sand. Oliquino, the residents’ spokesperson, said the recommendation has yet to be implemented.
Jaime Palisoc, environment and natural resources committee chair of the Sabangan village council, said when the MGB issued the recommendation, the company transferred its equipment to the neighboring village of Estanza, “but they continue to quarry at night in Sabangan.”
“There are armed security guards [securing the area] so we cannot do anything,” Palisoc said.
The permit, signed by Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan, was issued on June 29 for the extraction of 50,000 metric tons of magnetite sand yearly for two years. The firm is eligible to apply for renewal for another two years.
Gov. Amado Espino Jr. said the residents’ fears are “baseless and unfounded, [but] understandable.”
He said Amov volunteered to remove unnecessary materials in a proposed golf course that would be built in an ecotourism zone in the village.
But Espino, in a letter to Tayag, said the provincial government was “one with residents in their concern for the environment [and] won’t allow anyone to destroy and abuse the province’s environment and natural resources.”
The mining of magnetite sand also drew protests in Cagayan, with the highest ranking Church leader there calling for people power to put a stop to quarrying in the province’s shores that has a small-scale mining permit.
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