MGB junks mine application in 2 Zambo barangays

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/25 July) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau has rejected the application filed by Rigid Aggregates and Mining Corporation for a mineral production sharing agreement.

RAMC’s application to extract zinc, lead, copper and other minerals covers an area of 1,336.5 hectares in two adjoining barangays, namely Baluno and La Paz west of this city.

MGB regional officer-in-charge Albert Johann Jacildo said the cancellation order dated July 15, 2011 is contained in an official communication he sent to the president of RAMC.

RAMC is a 100-percent Filipino-owned corporation based in Pasig City.

In canceling the application, Jacildo stressed that the area being applied for by RAMC in Baluno and La Paz are within the Ayala watershed and “that a co-management agreement involving the same have been entered into between the city of Zamboanga and the DENR-IX giving us the inevitable impression that the latter affords that recognition of being critical watershed to the area subject of the co-management agreement.”

“It is arrogance indeed for this office to say yes after the DENR and the local government unit of Zamboanga City said no, so to speak,” the official said in his order.

“Caught in that predicament, this office is constrained to cause the cancellation of the APSA (application for production sharing agreement)-000127-IX and treat the area as closed to mining applications,” he added.

As per records of MGB-IX, Jacildo said RAMC submitted the application on July 20, 2005 and the area applied for will cover 1,336.5 hectares in the two barangays.

Initially, he said the application was opposed by a group of industrial establishments located in this city’s west coast and had to be evaluated only after the case against it was dismissed on grounds of jurisdiction by the Panel of Arbitrators.

Jacildo said the MGB-IX initially found no legal and technical obstacle to the application, and forwarded the carpeta to the MGB central office for final evaluation and endorsement to the DENR secretary.

He noted the case of the RAMC application is unprecedented as opposition to it did not stop even at the stage of final evaluation by the central office “so that the carpeta that was already with it had to be returned to this office (MGB-IX) for reevaluation.”

He said this prompted them to carefully scrutinize everything that surrounds the application of RAMC.

“In the process, we noted that the records contain a resolution of the City Council of Zamboanga, Resolution No. 137 adopting a policy to recall any resolution of no objection that it may have issued if and when mining applications turn out to be inside the watersheds,” Jacildo said in his order.

The opposition, headed by the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, was elated over the decision of the MGB to cancel the application of RAMC for mineral extraction.

“Approval of the application would have been an environmental threat to this city’s supply of clean water, affecting residents of the west coast and the agricultural and manufacturing activities and environs,” the group said in a statement.

The Silsilah Dialogue Movement is a non-government organization composed of Christian and Mulsim religious leaders that promotes peace and environment protection through dialogue. (MindaNews)