Oriental Mindoro governor OKs armour rocks extraction ordinance

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2022 03:10 PM

Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito "Bonz" Dolor has signed the Sangguning Panlalawigan ordinance allowing extraction of armour rocks in the province.

The move came despite his pronouncement last Nov. 28 that he will not allow any form of mining as long as he is the governor of the province.

"Nilagdaan ko ang ordinansang ito dahil naniniwala ako by heart and conscience na ang ordinansang ito ay magsasalba ng buhay ng mga mamamayan na direktang maapektuhan ng posibleng pagguho ng mga bato mula sa mga slopes mula sa mga bundok," Dolor said.

"Ang ordinansang ito ay magdadagdag ng kita sa mga magsasaka upang masaka ang kanilang mga palayan na ngayon ay napapalibutan ng mga bato," he added.

It can be recalled that on the eve of the celebration of the founding anniversary of Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro on Nov. 15, the 10th Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed with a 9-5 vote Ordinance No. 145-2022 titled "Ordinance Regulating the Extraction, Removal and Disposition of Boulder-Sized Volcanic Rock Float Deposits (Armour Rocks) Within the Territorial Jurisdiction of the Province of Oriental Mindoro, and for Other Purposes".

In a press conference Friday night, Dolor emphasized that the 25-year moratorium on mining in the province still stands. 

He explained that the ordinance is not to be considered as one that involves mining. According to him, it pertains to extraction of mineral underground but will only focus on the removal of visible surfaced armour rocks which endanger lives and properties in case of landslides.

Environmentalists led by Koalisyon Sagip Mindoro urged the people of Mindoro to join an indignation rally on Dec. 6 in front of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan building in Calapan City to condemn the passage of the ordinance that they claimed was railroaded by the legislative body.

Three former and two current representatives from the three congressional districts of Mindoro have earlier sought to ban mining activities on the island to protect it from frequent flooding, and destruction of agricultural lands, communities and infrastructure.

Oriental Mindoro 1st Dist. Rep. Arnan Panaligan filed House Bill 3891 and 2nd Dist. Rep. Alfonso Umali Jr. filed HB 6219 titled, "An Act Declaring the Island of Mindoro as a Mining-Free Zone and Providing Penalties Thereof". Panaligan's version reiterated the prohibition of all forms of mining operations and activities.

Occidental Mindoro Lone District Rep. Leody Tarriela said that he will be supporting all measures that would ban mining in Mindoro and protect the environment.

Former Occidental Mindoro congresswoman Josephine Ramirez-Sato filed a similar measure during the 18th Congress.

Former congressman Paulino Salvador "Doy" Leachon, in a public post on his social media page, said his political party, Mindoro Bago Sarili, whose members are part of the previous Sangguniang Panlalawigan that passed and extended the 25-year mining moratorium in Oriental Mindoro, is steadfast in its anti-mining stand.

Both provinces had passed a mining moratorium after an application of the Mindoro Nickel Project to mine a mountainous area in the central part of the island was approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources during the term of then president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Also, former congressman and former governor Rodolfo Valencia said ever since he became a public official in the province, he had been at the forefront of anti-mining and pro-environment endeavors.

The Sangguniang Panglungsod of Calapan City passed a resolution declaring support for Panaligan's bill.

SP ex-officio member Councilor Ronalee Leachon said they had passed the resolution to make it clear that the city is against all forms of mining that threaten the safety of city dwellers.

Panaligan urged all provincial, municipal and city councils to pass their respective resolutions in support of his bill.

"Batid natin na mabigat ang laban na ito sapagkat malakas at makapangyarihan ang pro-mining lobby lalo na nasa itaas. Tiyak na dadaan sa butas ng karayom ang HB 3891, subalit tayo ay naninindigan sa tama at iyon ay ang pagtatanggol at pangangalaga sa kalikasan ng Isla ng Mindoro," he said.

-- Report from Noel Alamar