Off limits to mining, Sarangani town declares

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 Jan) – Officials of the coastal municipality of Glan in Sarangani province declared the entire town as off limits to mining ventures as they made a big push for the development of the area’s famed white sand beaches and other eco-tourism resources into a multimillion industry within the next decade.

Glan Mayor Victor James Yap Sr. made the declaration after the local government formally adopted the newly-completed Glan Tourism Master Plan as anchor of the town’s socio-economic development initiatives.

“Mining will eventually destroy our fine white beaches and other potential tourist spots. So, either we go into tourism or none at all,” he said in a statement.

The mayor disclosed that there had been suggestions and moves to let mining companies come in to the area but stressed that he had “put his foot down” on them.

“We in the local government believe that tourism remains our best bet for economic development and prosperity, and mining will defeat our purpose because of its potential damage to the environment,” Yap said.

Glan is home to the world-class Gumasa white sand beaches, scenic waterfalls and other potential eco-tourism and adventure spots.

The town’s famed beaches had been adopted by the Regional Development Council of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao as among the region’s tourism anchors.

Aside from its tourism resources, the town also hosts significant mineral resources such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, limestone, shale, among others.

Based on the Region 12 updated mining tenement profile prepared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau, seven companies have applied to mine the town’s mineral resources.

The mayor said Glan’s 100-page tourism master plan was completed last month after almost a year of development by a technical working group (TWG) commissioned by the local government.

He said the Mindanao Tourism Council (MTC) was mainly responsible for the formulation of the plan, with the TWG providing the data and other vital inputs.

It was also assisted by the Asia Foundation and the Notre Dame Business Research Cooperative Foundation, Inc., he said.

Yap said the tourism master plan will mainly help guide the local government on how to go about in developing the local tourism industry in a most systematic and judicious manner.

“Our approach to tourism development should be one of sustained growth and at the same time protect our environment and other equally vital components of the local economy – agriculture, fishing, livestock, etc.,” the mayor said.

Jonallier Perez, MTC secretary and master plan consultant, challenged the local government to implement the plan to the letter and ensure the private sector’s active involvement in its initiatives.

“It should be private-public partnership in action,” Perez stressed.

Glan Vice Mayor Vivien Yap, who headed the TWG, said they will push for the immediate creation of the town’s Municipal Tourism Office as part of the master plan’s implementation.

“Tourism will also get bigger appropriations and other incentives from the local government,” she added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)