Cebu gov orders mining halt in dolomite source for Manila Bay

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 08 2020 05:21 PM | Updated as of Sep 08 2020 06:03 PM

Senior Environmental Management Specialist Carolyn Silvestre, collects a water sample from the shores of Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard in Manila on September 03, 2020. The water sample will be tested for water improvement quality as this stretch of Manila Bay is up for rehabilitation to make it fit for swimming. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on Tuesday ordered the halt of mining operations in Alcoy town, where dolomite or synthetic white sand is sourced for the "beautification" of the Manila Bay.

Through Executive Order No. 25, Garcia ordered the Philippine Mining Service Corporation and the Dolomite Mining Corporation to "immediately cease and desist from further extracting, processing, selling and transporting of dolomite, associated mineral deposits, and other quarry resources."

The executive order also said both the provincial government of Cebu and the municipality of Alcoy were not informed of the beautification project in Manila. There was also no public consultation prior to the issuance of ore transport permits (OTP) by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Visayas.

"The issuance of the OTPs to PMSC (Philippine Mining Service Corporation) without the proper notice to the local government unit and the absence of public consultation and participation clearly lacks transparency on the part of MGB, PMSC and DMC (Dolomite Mining Corporation)," the order read, adding that such is a violation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 2010-21, which states that the local government should ensure compliance with relevant laws on public notice, public consultation and public participation.

The order, likewise, said there was no Environmental Impact Study performed on the use of dolomite in the Manila Bay shoreline project.

"The absence of said Environmental Impact Study is a clear and blatant violation of DENR Administrative Order No. 2003-30, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Presidential Decree No. 1586, Establishing the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System," the order read.

The extraction of dolomite from Alcoy town and the "consequential damage it will cause the terrestrial environment of Cebu Island" is also a violation of the constitutional right of Cebu residents to "a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."

Courtesy of Sugbo News, the public information office of the Cebu Provincial Government

The environment department's project launched last week was met with criticism, with senators urging the agency to suspend it while environmental groups said it violated several laws.

The Department of Health earlier warned that crushed dolomite can cause respiratory issues. It later backtracked and said it was the process of crushing dolomite that was hazardous to one's health.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he would not oppose the dumping of synthetic white sand on the capital city's coastline, deferring to the expertise of the environment department. 

Malacañang defended the project, saying it is expected to help in flood control and gives city dwellers access to a white sand beach experience as leisure travels are discouraged due to the pandemic.