Village officials in Southern Bukidnon oppose entry of plantation firms

In a joint resolution endorsed to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the village officials said they "vehemently oppos[ed] the establishment of multi-national companies like banana and pineapple plantation companies in Quemtras, Butong, and Sengampu areas in Merangeran, Quezon".

Provincial board member Alfeo Baguio, who is from the area, said the village leaders opposed the proposal "since the area is too close to water sources," he told MindaNews Wednesday.

Barangay officials from Poblacion Quezon, San Jose, Libertad, Merangeran, and Minsalirac said that Barangay Butong, the proposed site of the plantation, "is [their] source of ground water" and the poblacion barangay "is an impounding area of potable water that serves the populace of the barangay and neighboring villages".

They also cited in the resolution that the chemicals and fertilizers that maybe used by the firms "may contaminate the ground water source and air pollutants, soil fertility and is harmful to the environment. Ultimately it will affect the populace," their resolution said.

The barangay officials said "it is imperative for them to protect the constituents of their respective barangays against adverse health effects".

A copy of the resolution, signed by meeting presiding officer Floro Javellana of Poblacion Quezon, was furnished to MindaNews. It was tackled January 14 during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The resolution was jointly passed by the five barangays in October last year.

Baguio said a firm which he could not name as of press time, already applied for around 400 hectares of pineapple plantation in the area.

Baguio added that another plantation, about 1,800 hectares, has been operating in the town since its application was approved two years ago. "But it was away from the water source so that's why there was no opposition," he said.

Baguio said, however, that the local officials "might have a problem because the unnamed firm has already secured an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Environmental Management Board of DENR 10".

"That's why they passed the resolution to gain support for their stand," he said.

Copies of the resolution were furnished to the Quezon municipal council and mayor, the provincial board, Gov. Jose. Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., the DENR through the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, the PENRO, the DENR regional director, and the "concerned multinational companies.” (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)