By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA
DAVAO CITY, Philippines– The city council is planning to revive its earlier resolution to ban mining in the city after reports that a mining firm has secured a permit in Paquibato District.
During the council’s session Tuesday, second district Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang said he received a letter from a farmers group saying that MRC Allied Inc. has secured a permit on an 8,475 hectares mining application in the area.
The letter, written by the Paquibato District Peasant Association (PADIPA) said the mining exploration will destroy the city’s watershed area.
Members of PADIPA staged a camp in front of the SP building to signify their protest to the mining firm and harassment by the Investment Defense Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The MRC Allied, Inc. (MRC) has listed Davao as one of its projects aside from other projects in Tampakan, Surigao, Boston-Cateel and New Cebu Township One (NCTO). According to the environment group Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, the firm is owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan.
Dayanghirang said the city has the right to know how and where the mining company secured permit.
The legislator said he personally checked Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 11 on the existence of such a permit. “I have talked to Mr. Angeles (OIC of MGB 11), and he informed me there was no such favorable endorsement but, indeed, there is an application for exploration permits of Alberto Mining Corporation and Penson’s Mining Corporation since 2011.
First District Councilor Melchor Quitain said he consulted with Indigenous People Mandatory Representative Berino Mambo-o who told him the application was already disapproved and that the NCIP should be consulted.
Councilor Diosdao Mahipus said that Davao City should “walk the talk” in standing against mining against the city.
Mahipus said certain mining companies informed him have applied permits in Manila, and “already started talking to the tribes or the indigenous peoples’ community in Paquibato,” he said declining to name the company but admitting to having talked with their lawyer.
“If we really want to protect the environment of Davao City, then mining should be farthest from our mind. We do not only talk about it, we should walk the talk,” Mahipus said.
Dayanghirang urged the council to firm up its resolution on mining, recalling that last year a committee hearingconducted by Advincula tackled the resolution item number 1247, “Resolution Probiting Mining and Declaring Davao City as Mining-Free City, specifically open-pit and underground mining.”
A review of the council’s official record showed it only passed first reading.
Dayanghirang was wary though that Aquino’s Executive Order 79 gives the President the authority to permit mining operations even without the approval of local leaders. Aquino has used this order to override the South Cotabato LGU’s ban on open pit mining.
The EO, signed in 2012, identifies areas for large-scale and small-scale mining, and revenue sharing. The order suspends the application of new mining permits, but allows DENR & MGB to issue permits to explore.
Mahipus was concerned that when the national government approves such mining operation in Paquibato, the local government will be the “whipping boy” of these mining companies.
In an interview with davaotoday, Panalipdan Spokesperson Juland Suazo said that it is not too late for the Council to pass the resolution.
“Although the LGU has the right to veto, it has lost such right because of EO 79 of President Aquino. But, it is still appropriate and timely for the Council to pass such a resolution to register that it has a firm stand against mining,” said Suazo. (John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com )Alberto Mining, davao city council, mining, mining-free davao city, MRC Allied, paquibato district