Permits for small-scale mining only
This refers to the article “People power urged vs China mine firms.” (Inquirer, 11/6/11) The article was based on the Pastoral Letter calling for a stop to all mining activities in Cagayan province.
We are very saddened by the sweeping indictment that we are allowing mining in Cagayan in exchange for short-term benefits.
Firstly, our mandate is to regulate “small-scale,” not large-scale, mining. The issuance of large-scale exploration and mining permits falls under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Secondly, we do not issue any permit for small-scale mining unless all legal requirements are complied with.
Thirdly, the Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office (PNREO) and the Multipartite Monitoring Team of the Mines Rehab Fund Committee (MRFC) conduct regular on-site monitoring. In 2008 the permits of two mining companies, Lian Xing Philippines Stone Carving Corp. and Philippine Mining Group and Holdings Inc., were suspended for violations of the terms of their permits.
Fourthly, aside from making sure that all mining laws and the terms and conditions of a mining permit are strictly followed, we require that over and above the tax payments (40 percent goes to the barangay; 30 percent, to the municipality; and 30 percent, to the provincial government), the holder extend its cooperation and support for projects and services that the community seeks to implement.
Fifthly, we are against all mining in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges because we believe the same could make Sierra Madre’s surrounding communities vulnerable to flood, landslides and other calamities.
Lastly, we have engaged the services of a geologist and marine biologists from the University of the Philippines to conduct a study on the dredging of the Cagayan River. The same group of scientists will also conduct a study on mining in the coastal areas. We are fully committed to these studies, the recommendations of which we will adopt and advocate to ensure that all mining activities are done not only legally but also responsibly and scientifically.
We thank Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg and the clergy for being so engaged in issues that affect our people. We respect their stand against mining, and we are moved by their love and concern for the Cagayanos, from which the vigor and strength of their conviction spring. Unfortunately, we are bound to follow national policies. We thus invite the clergy and all well-meaning Cagayanos to help monitor mining activities in the province. We will welcome any feedback meant to safeguard the environment and the people of Cagayan.
We appeal to Archbishop Utleg and our clergy for their understanding of our position despite our seemingly differing positions. We, in the Cagayan provincial government, are as unwavering as the Church in our commitment to protect the welfare of the people of Cagayan in this and in all other issues.
—ALVARO T. ANTONIO,
governor, Province of Cagayan
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