DENR probes alleged use of PH soil for China reclamation

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2016 05:15 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2016 08:02 PM

An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo, Reuters/Pool

MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is investigating the alleged use of Philippine soil for reclamation projects of China in the disputed South China Sea.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said ''heads should roll'' if the claim of Zambales Governor Amor Deloso that Philippine soil were used in building artificial islands in the South China Sea is true.

''That's horrible. I will find out whoever gave the permit. China can never be allowed to use our soil as their landfill. We're gonna look into this and make sure it never ever happens,'' Lopez told reporters.

''If there are DENR officials, they will be made accountable…Heads should roll. If the truckloads came from us, we should be aware. If they were getting truckloads of our soil, there were probably some trail."

China for years has been building artificial islands in the disputed Spratlys islands, stoking tension in the region.

In a massive blow to China's maritime ambitions, a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal recently ruled that the Asian giant's historical claim to the sea has no basis under international law and its artificial islands cannot generate a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

DENR Undersecretary Arturo Valdez said the DENR has created a team to look into the matter and there are now efforts to track the movement of the minerals and sand taken out of Zambales and supposedly brought to the reclamation areas.

''We've asked regional directors to give us a feedback. This is really alarming although there were initial reports before about that,'' Valdez said.

''They've not allowed us to go fishing and on top of that they are getting our soil? Something has to be done about it."