Thursday, August 17, 2017

BM Quinones slams CNorte mining squabble



DAET, CNorte— The conflict between mining companies Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corporation (hereinafter Mt. Labo) and Galeo Equipment Corporation (hereinafter Galeo) has brought confusion and alarm at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

In connection with the issue, Board Member Gerardo Quinones delivered a recent privilege speech pointing out that said conflict has raised questions on who should be held responsible in the event that two companies formerly in a Joint Venture Agreement decide to part ways and there are violations against environmental laws.

“Hindi natin alam kung sino ang ating hahabulin kapag may mga paglabag sa environmental laws at nagkaroon ng hidwaan ang dating magkasamang kompanya,” Quinones said.

Antecedent facts
Quinones narrated that the destruction of the environment which he is opposing stemmed from the instance when Mt. Labo granted its consent to Bohai Top as the operator and overseer of the mining operations in Barangay Napaod.

In exchange for the consent, Mt. Labo, through its director Johannes Raadsma, requested for 1 percent of the royalties, Quinones said in his speech.

He added that following this, several Chinese nationals were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation in a raid, and pieces of heavy equipment and minerals were confiscated.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau, heeding the call of the residents of Barangay Napaod, thereafter issued a cease and desist order.

Dangerous open pit

The problem, however, did not stop there.

The mining operations left a huge open pit, which the Napaod residents and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan have deemed dangerous.

“Sa katunayan, ang inyo pong lingkod at BM canlas ay may ipinasa noong 2014 na isang resolusyon para sa MLEDC (Mt. Labo) na magsagawa na ng rehabilitasyon sa Venida Pit, and record shows bagamat paulit ulit po tayo sa pag follow up ay hindi po ito nagkaroon ng katuparan,” the Board Member stated.

“At kung atin pong titingnan, dapat kasama ang Galeo Equipment Corp. sa may pananagutan sa pagkasira ng kanilang area na sakop ng mining claim exploration permit no. 014-2013-V. Sapagkat sila ay may 42% share sa kanilang JVA. Sa mahabang panahong nanahimik ang MLEDC (Mt. Labo) at Galeo sa usapin ng mitigasyon, ito ay muling binuhay ngayong taon ng Brgy. Napaod sa paghingi ng tulong sa Sangguniang Bayan ng Labo na nagresulta sa pagpapatawag sa Galeo at MLEDC (Mt. Labo) noong enero at pebrero ng taong kasalukuyan sa dalawang magkasunod na public hearing.”

Mitigation measure

Earlier this year, the two mining companies were called to appear before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to shed light on the issue, Quinones said in the same speech.

Mt. Labo, citing its reasons, did not make a commitment before the SP. Meanwhile, Galeo announced that it was ready to carry out a mitigation measure.

Three local government units supported the mitigation measure.

It was during this time, Quinones said, that Mt. Labo announced that they and Galeo were not seeing eye-to-eye on certain points. In particular, Mt. Labo’s representative said that the Joint Venture Agreement was not in effect.

Quinones revealed that the conflict between the two mining companies was surprising, and had raised questions in the minds of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as well as the residents of Barangay Napaod.

The Board Member added that because of the issue, he is proposing an amendment to the Environmental Code in accordance with what Pres. Rodrigo Duterte said in his latest State of the Nation Address.

This, he said, will ensure the protection of the environment in the crafting of laws, especially if the applicants have a Joint Venture Agreement.
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