Beng elated over RAMC application’s disapproval PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 July 2011 15:26

House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Beng Climaco has expressed elation over the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the application of a mining company for mineral production sharing covering critical hectares of land within the Ayala Watershed.

The cancellation of the application of Rigid Aggregates and Mining Corporation (RAMC), Cong. Climaco calibrates the joint initiatives of the Silsillah Dialogue Movement and the District I congressional office in protecting the Ayala watershed which is one of the main sources of fresh drinking water in the city and home to diverse ecosystems of fauna and flora.

The congresswoman was one of the active oppositors to the RAMC application. At the height of the controversy last year, Cong. Climaco has expressed strong objections to mining activities on any protected land area in the west coast be it on an exploratory basis or otherwise. She urged all sectors to work together towards the goal to protect the city’s water source amid moves to explore part of the watershed area, for minerals “employing harmful extraction techniques involving hazardous chemicals at great risk to the ecosystem”.

The lady solon in a letter dated July 19 informed Silsillah Dialogue Movement founder Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra about the DENR’s Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau-9’s decision to cancel the RAMC application.

She described the MGB’s order as a welcome decision that will help protect the resource from various environmental threats such as mining and commercialization. 
It is recalled that Climaco issued a statement entitled “A call to preserve our water source” last year in response to efforts of an apolitical coalition to oppose RAMC’s  application as well as to alert and inform government leaders about the threats posed by the mining activity.

“It is my position that the doors of the First District of Zamboanga City shall be shut to any actor—foreign or domestic—with neocolionialist mindstsets, wherein regulations are ignored; the spirit of environmental legislation is litigated in search of loopholes with intent to contravene; where licensing protocols are fast-tracked without due diligence or venue-shopped to the harm of public safety and health; our tax-base eroded; our lands despoiled; our constituents deceived”, the congresswoman’s then statement said.

In its order of cancellation dated July 15, 2011, the MGB-9 through OIC Regional Director Albert Johan Jacildo said the case of the RAMC mining application is unprecedented, as opposition to the application 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 for reevaluation”.

“It is for this reason that we have to carefully take a look at everything that surrounds it in order to decide what to do with it. 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”, the MGB-9 director stated in the order.

Jacildo stressed that as far as Zamboanga City is concerned, the area being applied for by RAMC in Baluno and Ayala is 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-9 “giving us the inevitable impression that the latter affords that recognition of being a 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 LGU of Zamboanga City said no, so to speak”, the order read.  “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,” the order added.

Per records of MGB-9, the office received the RAMC application July 20, 2005 and the area applied for will cover some 1,336.5 hectares in barangays La Paz and Baluno. Initially, the application was opposed by a group of industrial establishments in the city and had to be evaluated only after the case against it was dismissed on grounds of jurisdiction by the Panel of Arbitrators, according to Jacildo.

The MGB-9, Jacildo said at the outset found no legal and technical obstacle that beset the application and thus, forwarded the carpeta to the MGB central office for final evaluation leading to the last and final task of indorsing it to the DENR secretary. — Marvin Segura