MANILA - The firm that owns the ship spotted carrying out dredging operations at the Lobo River in Batangas has no local permit to operate, the town mayor said Thursday.
Lobo Mayor Jurly Manalo said Seagate Engineering and Buildsystems, which owns MV Emerald, a vessel manned mostly by Chinese crewmen seen recently at the river, had no permission to undertake dredging operations.
He said the town has an existing contract with a different firm, FS Suntan Sand Corp.
Speaking on radio DZMM, Manalo said Seagate's environmental compliance certificate (ECC) "is not enough" to carry out dredging operations as a permit from the municipal government is required.
And to get such permit, an application has to go through several other agencies, including the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
"'Yan po ay dadaan sa agency na 'yan para kayo ay mabigyan ng permit ng munisipyo. Kami po ang magbibigay ng pahintulot kung kayo ay papayagan," Manalo told radio DZMM.
(That has to go through these agencies to get a municipal permit. We are the ones that give a permit if we allow.)
Manalo clarified that the local government had a contract with Seagate in 2008 but dredging operations did not progress.
His predecessor, he said, then sealed a deal with FS Suntan in 2012, which Manalo reviewed and continued after seeing the positive effects of desilting.
He said he was surprised when Seagate's ship came in the picture and added it did not follow basic requirements and lacked a business permit from the municipality.
"Kasi po 'yung kontratang pinirmahan niya noong 2008 superseded ng kontrata ng 2012. Wala po silang ginawa kaya ang itinuloy po namin ay 'yung bagong kontrata na pinirmahan ng dating mayor na sinundan ko at saka ng FS Suntan," he said.
(The contract [Seagate] signed in 2008 was superseded by the 2012 contract. They did nothing so we continued with the new contract, which was signed by the previous mayor and by FS Suntan.)
After a Seagate vessel was spotted at the Lobo River, Manalo called on the firm to have its ship leave the area.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has suspended Seagate's dredging operations.
A military official earlier said the vessel would be used to ship sand from the Lobo River as part of a flood control project.