Groups condemn lifting of mining ban

CAPIZ- Much to the dismay of environment groups and residents, the provincial board recently passed an ordinance lifting the historic 50-year ban on large-scale mining in the province.

The Capiz Environmental Protection Alliance (CEPA) described the passage of Provincial Ordinance No. 9 as “an act of treachery” by the provincial board against the position of Capiceños who waged war against the operation of large-scale mining in the late 1990s.

“[The mining moratorium] was a product of almost half a decade of advocacy, lobbying and social mobilizations for the preservation and protection of the environment in Capiz. The moratorium for mining activities in a province was a people’s victory in the fight against commercial mining,” said Darlene Surriga, Cepa advocacy officer.

Surriga added the ordinance authored by Board Member Emmanuel Billones Jr was passed “suspiciously” and without public consultation barely two days after the last elections.

The basis for the lifting is the resolution of support from officials of Maayon, especially Canapian village, for the “general conduct of mining operation by the legally permitted mining company, the Teresa Marble Corp. (TMC) and/or Capmin Enterprise (Capmin) service contractor, it's partner and service provider of said barangay.”

Maayon officials had cited economic benefits for the community, including creation of jobs, business opportunities and other social benefits.

“This honorable body has come realize that it is of the best interest of the community of the province of Capiz that it is about time to fulfill the economic and social benefits of the mining project …,” the ordinance said.

Another basis in lifting the ordinance is the implementing rules and regulation of Republic Act No. 7942 (The Philippine Mining Act of 1995) which mandates social acceptance of proposed mining projects and activities.

Opposition

Capiz Gov. Antonio del Rosario said he was against the ordinance and he would ask the provincial board to repeal the lifting of the moratorium once he receives a formal opposition from Capiz residents.

“I only learned about it from the media. I am against it because Capiz is dependent on agriculture and its aquatic and marine resources. I will not implement an ordinance that is detrimental to the interest of the people,” Del Rosario said.

Capiz is a top producer of rice and seafood. In fact, its capital, Roxas City, has been dubbed as the “seafood capital of the Philippines.”

Del Rosario said he will not allow any mining activity in Capiz despite the lifting of the moratorium.

He also issued a warning to provincial engineer Edgar Agana not to entertain mining in Capiz.

Agana said that the lifting of the moratorium did not undergo consultation with affected residents in Maayon town and that he was not informed of the moves of the local government of Maayon and the provincial board.

Rex Talabucon said he was dismayed by the lifting of the moratorium ordinance which his father, the late board member Cezar Talabucon, authored.

"My father was the one that made the said ordinance expressing his strong opposition to mining exploration. But all the sudden, it was lifted because maybe of personal interest", he added.

On Aug. 27, 1999 the provincial board passed an ordinance declaring a 15-year moratorium on all large-scale mining activities and the acceptance and processing of all application for mineral agreements.

Three years later, on Feb. 15, 2002, the board amended the ordinance extending the moratorium to 50 years. (With reports from PDI/OpinYon)

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