The municipal government of Alcoy, Cebu has revealed that the extraction of dolomite rocks has brought tremendous damage to the town’s marine ecosystem.
The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office’s (PENRO) inspection last week concluded that the heavy siltation caused by the crushed dolomite destroyed corals within 500 meters of seawater.
The Environmental Management Bureau received a request from Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to examine the shattered corals in Alcoy.
“An inspection of the seabed in Barangay Pugalo, Alcoy, showed heavy siltation and damage to the area’s marine ecosystem, raising the possibility of the issuance of another cease-and-desist order against the mining firms,” the provincial government said in a news release.
“Particles from the crushed dolomite fell to the sea when transported to the bulk carrier vessels. Initial reports indicated that corals were destroyed within 500 m of seawater because of heavy siltation, causing the corals and the seabed to turn white,” it added.
The municipal government stopped the extraction, selling, and distribution of dolomite in the town last September 8.
The cease-and-desist order against Dolomite Mining Corp. (DMC) and Philippine Mining Services Corp. (PMSC) was a way to prevent the shipment of the artificial sand to Manila, said Garcia.
Before the order was issued, 10,500 wet metric tons of dolomite from Alcoy were to be shipped to Manila. This was on top of the 7,000 wet metric tons that was used to make Manila Bay look like a real beach.
Garcia also made it clear that Alcoy isn’t against the fake white beach project, but the initiative was done without permits from the provincial capitol and payment of local taxes.
Provincial treasurer Roy Salubre added that the DMC and the PMSC must pay the province P726,923.077 for the dolomite.
“We don’t get involved in a project of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to nourish the beach by getting their resources elsewhere. But you are getting resources from the province supplied by DMC, extracted by DMC, and under the provincial ordinance, our tax code, they are supposed to pay 10 percent of the fair market value of the quarry resource,” she said.
On Tuesday, an official said that Alcoy is also considering filing charges against DMC and the PMSC for failing to comply with local tax ordinances and requirements.
Garcia will only allow the two mining firms to continue operations once taxes are paid and a waste disposal permit is secured.
Cebu provincial board member Jiembo Borgonia told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that marine biologists are about to investigate the damage the mining has caused to the nearby bodies of water.
“‘Yung conveyor ng PMSC, ‘yung kanilang planta patungo dun sa barge may open na area kaya through the wind dun naaanod ang dolomite,” he said, noting that the coral reefs began to whiten due to the dolomite.
“‘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.
“Over the years atsaka sa dami ng volume, naspread siya within 5 kilometers away from the area.” he added.
He also pointed out that the fishermen’s livelihood have been affected by the mining.
“‘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.”
The two mining firms also failed to pay 10 percent of their gross sale to the government for the dolomite.
“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.
“Parang binabalewala nila ang hurisdiksyon ng probinsiya,” he added.