By Cheryl A. Galili
MANY RESIDENTS of the town of Roxas are opposing the applications for mining exploration of Fujian-Sino Philippine Mining Corporation (FSPMC) and small scale mining of Ricardo Banares and a certain Kathryn Wong in barangays Tinitian, Jolo, San Miguel, Nicanor Zabala and Caramay.
A copy of the petition they furnished the Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI) says the residents manifested their strong opposition because no consultation was made to them by the applicants.
Fujian’s application for mining exploration is reportedly at the end of the Langogan river that is already within Puerto Princesa’s territory to the barangays of Tinitian, Nicanor, Caramay and Magara in Roxas and Caruray in San Vicente.
In the document, the residents expressed that if mining is allowed near Langogan river, it would carry poisonous chemicals down to the seas and would kill the fish. These chemicals, they said, are sodium cyanide used for gold, mercury and other tons of mud that will destroy marine sanctuaries of the areas mentioned, including the waters of Salvacion, Rizal, Malcampo and Johnson Island.
The poisonous chemicals also have the possibility to spread to Green Island and Honda Bay through river flows and can be fed on by fishes, crabs, lobsters, shrimps and shells.
Aside from this, they also fear landslides in case mining operation begins in the mountain whose elevation is from 45-90 degrees. Whether small or large scale mining, the residents said landslides can happen. They cited as example what happened in Mt. Diwalwal and Ormoc where thousands were buried due to landslides caused by mining operations.
Part of what they fear was also the flash flood that happened on December 18, 2005 that destroyed 90% of their farms, livestocks near the big river, and also washed away the concrete and hanging bridges in Caramay and Nicanor Zabala.
“The people in Caramay right now are worried that every time there’s little rain, they couldn’t sleep because they’re afraid that another flash flood might happen due to neglected old mining sites in the interior,” a resident said.
The lands near the big river in Caramay, Nicanor Zabala and others that are being applied for mining exploration are rich in mineral resources that are good for growing coconuts and fruits. If mining happens, these lands will be lost, including the livelihood of the people.
Meanwhile, the proposed mining areas of Fujian and other applicants are also hunting grounds of the Batak indigenous people – Langogan, Tinitian, Caramay and Caruray – and the source of their other food. They also have the potential to be wildlife reserves and sanctuaries and as tourist spots.
In related news, according to Gil Saclet, the chairman of barangay Caramay, a certain Engr. Banares allegedly informed them that the waste materials from the future operation of the mine will be dump to Langogan. Saclet said this was the reason why they began to have doubts about the company’s personality to protect the environment.