Offshore mining violates FVR proclamation – SP

By October 10, 2021Business

THE impending offshore large-scale mining activities in the Lingayen Gulf is in conflict with Presidential Proclamation No.156 issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1993 that proclaimed the entire Lingayen Gulf as an environmentally critical area.

This was the contention of Second District Board Member Von Mark Mendoza during the Question Hour of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on October 4, attended by officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) regional offices and of the proponent of the large-scale mining project, Iron Ore and Vanadium Resources Philippines, Inc.

Proclamation No. 156 placed the Lingayen Gulf under a special management area that will be subjected to management regulations in accordance with the Lingayen Gulf Coastal Area Management Plan formulated by the Regional Development Council of Region 1, in coordination with the Regional Office of the National Economic and Development Authority, the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Resources Research and Development and several other agencies and local government units.

Mendoza, the SP minority floor leader, maintained that various government agencies as well as the concerned stakeholders were not consulted when the MGB regional office processed the application for Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) of the proponent company before it endorsed the same to be issued a clearance by the DENR  regional office, which was later submitted the same to its central office for approval by Malacanang.

Mendoza slammed the statement made by Ruel Collado, section head of the MGB and executive assistant of DENR Regional Director Socrates Gaerlan that his office merely relied on the letter of the Regional  Development Council dated April 26, 2019, in response to the latter’s earlier letter, that it may allow the company (Iron Ore and Vanadium Resources Philippines, Inc.) to pursue its application for FTAA as long as it undergoes the Philippine Environment Impact Assessment System as required in Presidential Decree No. 156.

Collado said MGB also received the go-signal to proceed with the processing of the company’s FTAA application based on EMB memorandum dated July 16, 2020, contending that “offshore and feasibility studies with no significant earth-moving activities may not pose significant ecological disturbance”.

He said that this meant that the feasibility studies, which included exploration, is outside the coverage of the Philippine EIA system and therefore does not need an Environmental Compliance Certificate to proceed.

Mendoza believes that the FTAA took off despite the existing proclamation (No. 156) which he said to his knowledge has not been revoked.

To which Collado replied: “It was not revoked your honor. The Lingayen Gulf is an environmentally critical area but it is not necessarily closed”.

Mendoza also took to task the statement of Collado that consultation with coastal barangays and other concerned stakeholders was not necessary during the processing of the FTAA applications.

“Who said so”? Mendoza asked, citing a provision of the Local Government Code that in any national undertaking by the national government, a public consultation is a must.

Collado said this is provided in the guidelines in the processing of the FTAA and only the posting, publication in one national and local publications in affected towns in 2016 were required and complied with.

Mendoza refuted Collado’s claim and said consultation were only made after the FTAA was signed.

Collado said the posting of the FTAA application was made in Sual, Labrador, Binmaley, Dagupan and San Fabian but Lingayen rejected the posting.

He said no opposition was made after the posting, publications and radio announcement of the FTAA applications in 2016.

Meanwhile, Isabel Perez, head of the EIA section of EMB regional office, supported  Collado’s statement that offshore drilling and feasibility studies need no ECC yet but since the proponent company is already applying for extraction permit, it will now go through EIA system and in which time the issue about Proclamation No, 156 that proclaimed the entire Lingayen Gulf as an environmentally critical area could be raised.

The technical description under Proclamation 156 of the Lingayen Gulf described it as “a parcel of land and seaward situated in the municipalities of San Fernando, Caba, Aringay, Agoo  Sto. Tomas and Rosario, La Union; and San Fabian, Mangaldan, Binmaley, Lingayen, Labrador, Sual, Anda, Bolinao and Alaminos and the city of Dagupan in Pangasinan with an approximate land area of 59,227.75 hectares and water area of 279,630.66 hectares.”

Collado said the approved FTAA application covers 10,064 hectare area, expanding from 7,272 hectares it first applied for on November 15, 2015 when it filed the same. (Leonardo Micua)

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