BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – At least 100,000 people have responded to the call of a Church-based group in Cagayan for President Aquino to order a halt to black sand mining in the province.
Fr. Jerry Perez, parish priest of the St. Peter’s Cathedral in Tuguegarao City, said the Federation of Environmental Advocates of Cagayan has sent to Malacañang a petition with 100,000 signatures gathered from all over Cagayan.
The signature drive, according to Perez, is in support of Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg’s call for the President to revoke all national government and local government-issued permits allowing black sand extraction in Cagayan.
In a letter to Aquino last September, Utleg said black sand mining only endangers the ecosystem and the lives of fisherfolk.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s regional office admitted that at least 10 companies have been granted permits to quarry black sand along Cagayan’s northern coastlines, particularly in the towns of Aparri, Buguey and Gonzaga.
Perez and other local anti-mining advocates warned that the unabated extraction of black sand exposes coastal villages to destruction in the event of a storm surge.
“They have been removing the shore’s first line of defense,” Perez said.
Mario Ancheta, MGB-Cagayan Valley director, though said mining firms allowed to extract black sand in Cagayan are operating in conformity with existing mining laws.