BACUAG, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/20 July) – Citing possible environmental destruction, a town mayor in Surigao del Norte said she will not allow mining operations in her place.
Bacuag town Mayor Sheila Mae Orquina-Cebedo said she had in fact already junked two mining applications, adding similar permissions will be turned down in the future.
“I fear the negative effects that may emerge if mining firms are allowed to exploit mineral reserves in our town. Maybe they can apply soon after I step down, but not now while I’m the mayor,” said Orquina-Cebedo, who is in her second term and the president of the League of Municipal Mayors in the province.
Orquina-Cebedo’s cautious stance on mining is shared by several local officials, who have voiced concerns over the long-term adverse effects of mining.
In an earlier interview, 2nd district Rep. Guillermo Romarate, Jr. said the continuation of mining activities in the province should depend on the safe and environmentally sound practices of the companies.
He also raised concerns about the destruction of crops caused by mining accidents, and said that the affected farmers should be compensated.
In her State of the Province Address last week, Gov. Sol F. Matugas vowed to sustain her administration’s campaign against illegal mining, fishing and logging activities.
She said dialogues were also conducted with large-scale mining companies to ensure the implementation of environmental protection programs and relevant community projects under the Social Development Management Plan.
Last year, Matugas suspended all quarrying and small-scale mining operations in the province pending review of their permits.
“The EO 7 was issued to adopt measures, to safeguard and conserve land, mineral, marine, forest and other resources of the province,” the governor said.
In her own State of the Municipality Address also last week, Orquina-Cebedo said her stance on mining is prompted by concerns over climate change. Mining operations, she said, are a threat to ecosystems.
She said environment is her top priority followed by education.
Gliceto Dagondon, executive director of Green Mindanao Association Inc. lauded Orquina-Cebedo’s stand on mining saying the other mayors may also emulate her position.
“I appreciate her stand on mining because mining is among the worst forms of destroying the environment,” Dagondon said. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)