MANILA - Cebu province is considering filing charges against two mining firms involved in the production of crushed dolomite in Alcoy town for its non-compliance with local tax ordinances and requirements, an official said Tuesday.
Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia earlier ordered the Philippine Mining Service Corporation and the Dolomite Mining Corporation to halt its operations.
The governor will allow the companies to resume their operations once they pay local taxes and secure a waste disposal permit as marine biologists are set to examine the supposed damage their mining caused to nearby bodies of water, according to Cebu provincial board member Jiembo Borgonia.
"'Yung conveyor ng PMSC, 'yung kanilang planta patungo dun sa barge may open na area kaya through the wind dun naaanod ang dolomite," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(PMSC's conveyor, their plant going to the barge, has an open area so the dolomite is carried through the wind.)
"Over the years atsaka sa dami ng volume, naspread siya within 5 kilometers away from the area."
(Over the years and due to the huge volume, it has spread within 5km away from the area.)
The dolomite has caused coral reefs to whiten, Borgonia said.
"'Yung inisyal naming nakita, di na siya natural color. Whitish na tsaka 'yung mga fish cage at dun sa sea floor kahit di naman white sand ang area," he said.
(Our initial findings showed the corals did not have natural coral and turned whitish, even the fish cages and the sea floor though the area is not composed of white sand.)
"'Yung mga fisherman natin di na sila maka-fish within the area. Kailangan nila sa malayo kahit marami naman sanang fishes dun. 'Yung livelihood ng fisherman ay talagang naapektuhan kaya sila ang dumulog nung narinig 'yung issue."
(Our fishermen can't fish in the area, they need to go far even though there should have been a lot of fishes there. Their livelihood was severely affected that's why they approached us when they heard about the issue.)
The two companies, which have been operating for some 30 years, have also refused to pay 10 percent of their gross sale to government for producing the crushed dolomite used in Manila Bay, according to Borgonia.
"As early as August or September, nagsend na ang legal office ng probinsiya sa Sugbu ng demand letter to comply sa provincial ordinances, to ask for a governor’s permit, and if they are selling sa local, waste disposal permit," he said.
(As early as August or September, the province's legal office has sent a demand letter to comply with provincial ordinances, to ask for a governor’s permit, and if they are selling locally, a waste disposal permit.)
"Parang binabalewala nila ang hurisdiksyon ng probinsiya."
(It's like they don't care about the province's jurisdiction.)
The crushed dolomite project in Manila Bay has earned public criticism as government supposedly violated several laws and reportedly spent millions for its "beautification" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The white beach's opening over the weekend also drew criticism for the lack of physical distancing, prompting the relief of the police station's commander.