By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — “The dismantling of the black sand mining facilities in Ilocos Sur, particularly in Sitio Namnama, Barangay Nagtupacan and San Sebastian both of the municipality of San Vicente and Caparaccadan, Caoayan, is a triumph of the Law over unlawful deeds, and the righteous over the wicked,” stated Defend Ilocos against mining plunder (Defend Ilocos) on the latest action of different government agencies against black sand mining in the province.
According to Sr. Lilian Carranza of the Social Action Center (SAC) of Nueva Segovia, Ilocos Sur, they are happy that the cry of the people of the province to save their coastlines from further destruction was finally heard. The black sand mining facilities she said were demolished and bulldozed.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Ilocos Sur Provincial Police Office Chief Police Superintendent Marlo Castillo said that from August 3 until 6, a composite team under the task force Black Sand Mining (BSM) led by Atty. Florencio Canlas of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Region 1 carried out the Cease and Desist Order (CDO) issued on May 13, 2013 by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 1 signed by its director Carlos Tayag against the operations of Hongze Mining Corporation, Yinyi Mining Company and Well Resource Company, all owned by Chinese nationals.
On May 20, MGB National Director Leo Nazareno issued an order banning magnetite mining in Ilocos Sur.
According to Defend Ilocos, mining companies started extracting magnetite in the province as early as 2009 without going through community consultations and other needed legal processes.
Castillo added that among the government agencies who participated in the demolition and seizure of the facilities are members of the Philippine Navy, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Philippine Safety Battalion of the PNP.
Sr. Carranza said that the inter agencies converged at the office of the NBI in Vigan City. She also said that some of the members of the demolition teams arrived at the city as early as 10:00 PM of August 2 while some came on 6:00 AM the next day to plan the operation.
Castillo said the demolition was witnessed by representatives from the SAC, the Ilocos Sur Collective Action for the Protection of the Environment (ISCAPE) and personnel from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to ensure that no rights will be violated during the operations.
He also said that staff from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Region 1 led by Bobby Requepo invited 16 Chinese nationals for questioning.
According to Sr. Carranza, 13 of the 16 foreigners believed to be Taiwanese have valid working permits while three have only temporary visas. She said that a short commotion from inside the mining facilities of Hongze occurred. She added this may be a desperate move from the foreigners to stay the demolition but was overcome by BSM’s immediate and determination to implement the law.
In a statement of Defend Ilocos, the group said the undertaking of the demolition is not only an action against the destructive mining operation but also a blow against individuals and officials who welcomed, imposed and supported the said mining ventures through sheer maneuvering and deception.
The Ilocos-wide environmental group also revealed that lawyers and even the mayor of San Vicente intervened and tried to stop the demolition of the facility in Barangay Nagtupacan. They also described that other local officials tried to assert claim that the mining operations was legal despite the successive CDOs from the MGB. They criticized these officials as manifesting actions of conivance with the foreign mining companies and betraying their office and public trust.
The group through their statement congratulated the agencies and the people on the successful implementation of the law.
Sr. Carranza said that while they are happy for the demolition operations against the mining companies, they will remain vigilant with the people of Ilocos Sur to safeguard the coastal areas of the province. She said they will stand firm on their opposition to black sand mining and other destructive projects. # nordis.net