THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is due to submit to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the proposal to declare as “protected area” the Mount Mantalingahan range in Southern Palawan.

Norma Molinyawe, DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau’s Biodiversity Management Division officer-in-charge, said the agency is already finalizing the proposal so the President can study and act on it as soon as possible.

The DENR is seeking Mt. Mantalingahan’s proclamation as a protected area to help shield it from environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. “It’s a forested area with a variety of species,” Molinyawe said.

Citing reports on the matter, she noted that many of such species are endemic to the area.

The DENR said Mt. Mantalingahan mountain range’s total area is about 120,457 hectares covering Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Española, Quezon and Rizal municipalities.

The draft proposal puts this landscape under DENR’s administrative jurisdiction in accordance with Republic Act 7586, the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 and other relevant laws.

Several sectors have been backing the mountain range’s establishment as a protected area.

In February 2008, environmentalist Senator Pia Cayetano led a cycling event to help raise funds for saving Mt. Mantalingahan from illegal logging and mining.

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) also noted that as early as 2003, South Palawan Planning Council already sought Mt. Mantalingahan’s establishment as a protected area. (PNA)

By Cheryl A. Galili

THE 25-YEAR BAN on the acceptance of new applications for mining endorsements that was passed by the Palawan Provincial Board and concurred by Governor Joel T. Reyes has already taken effect beginning November 25.

At the Paskuhan sa Kapitolyo opening on the same day, Reyes signed the resolution in front of provincial government department heds and members of the Provincial Board, headed by Vice-Governor David A. Ponce de Leon.

The governor said the approval of the resolution was an early Christmas gift to all Palaweños, particularly to the “present and future generations,” including the environment.

“Ito ay maagang pamasko sa kalikasan, sa present generation,” Reyes said.

He said it would mean that the province is no longer endorsing any small-scale mining activities, and would strictly monitor the existing mining operations in Palawan of large-scale mining companies.

He thanked the proponents of the resolution and all the members of the Provincial Board for passing it. It can be recalled that Reyes expressed his support to the said legislation during his state of the province address (SOPA) last July 2008.

Vice-Governor David A. Ponce de Leon, on the other hand, challenged the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to pass a resolution supporting the mining moratorium to safeguard the environment.

By Alex S. Villanueva, Jr.

MEMBERS OF the provincial board (PB) of Palawan have agreed to cancel all approved small scale mining application claims that have been dormant for two years, or since their approval.

This, after the provincial board unanimously favored a resolution urging the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR), Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) and other concerned agencies to revoke the approved but non-operational mining claims in the province.

Board Member Cipriano Barroma, author of the resolution, said the two years for exploration and operation period granted is quite ample time to conduct indispensable preliminary mining activities and eventual operation.

”Seemingly, some moneyed and unscrupulous businessmen took advantage of the liberal scale mining law to speculate on the matter,” Barroma said.

Colleagues of Barroma shared the same observation, noting that the legislation intended to determine the sincerity of the mine operators to do business and deter speculators.

At present, there are 315 listed small scale mining applicants in Palawan.

Of the number, only 13 small-scale permits have been granted by PMRB and four of which are operational with one recently cancelled. (By Alex S. Villanueva, Jr.)

By Alex J. Villanueva, Jr.

FOR THE first time, the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) in Palawan made a decision to suspend the operation of a small scale mining company in Aramaywan, Narra after proving that the mineral ores it is extracting is outside its claimed mine area.

On April 3, the PMRB suspended the small scale mining permit of Agapito Salido through Resolution No. 33-2008, which was confirmed by Vice-Governor David A. Ponce de Leon’s signature.

Salido’s small scale mining permit (SSMP) No. 7, according to the PMRB, is being suspended because its mining operations is clearly being done beyond the area he was permitted to mine. The survey that discovered this was done by Engr. Romeo Trocino.

Because of Trocino’s findings, the PMRB issued a show cause order last March, asking Salido why his SSMP should not be canceled and his P375,000 cash bond should not be forfeited in favor of the pronvincial government.

Salido allegedly disputed that the finding used a global positioning system (GPS) instrument in the ground verification instead of a survey instrument.

In the second examination that used the survey instrument, Salido’s mine pit turned out to be within his SSMP area. Both findings were not resolved due to lack of reference monuments in the vicinity.

The PMRB commissioned Engr. Baltazar Caimoy, a geodetic engineer to conduct another survey last March 28 to revalidate, using the most appropriate and accurate survey instrument.

Caimoy presented to the PMRB that the result of his survey said that the area where extraction was made is outside Salido’s permit area.

Earlier, the PMRB imposed a P50,000 administrative fine against Salido for unauthorized use of the ore transport permit (OTP). He also posted a cash bond of P375,000 for the release of the apprehended copper ore to answer for the tax fees and charges and/or other purposes dues and damages accruing to the government without prejudice to the further investigation by the board on the alleged mining outside of the permittee’s mine site and possible cancellation of his small scale mining permit if warranted.

On February 6, 2008, a team composed of members of the PMRB and Environment and Natural Resources Office-Kilusang Sagip Kalikasan (ENRO-KSK), in coordination with the City PNP, intercepted four cargo trucks laden with two 10-footer vans each containing copper ores.

Meanwhile, a source from the Aramaywan Metals Development Corporation (AMDC) said Salido’s SSMP is

his own and not the corporation. The source said AMDC has not started to mine. In fact, it is still in the process of acquiring its permit to explore.

AMDC’s application is for large scale mining, not small scale, according to the source, who added that Salido’s SSMP is for an operation that’s just within the area being applied for by AMDC.

News reports mentioning AMDC is involved in Salido’s small scale mining need to be corrected because it might have an effect on its own application for exploration in Aramaywan, Narra.

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By Cheryl A. Galili

THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has declared the “Exploration Permit Applications (EPA)/Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA)” of three mining companies have been declared “null and void,” according to a letter sent to the regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) by Redmont Consolidated Mines Corporation President David S. Turmines.

In his letter sent on February 27, 2008 to Dir. Belino P. Osingat, Sr., Ph.D. of the NCIP Regional Office IV through Engr. Roldan V. Parangue, provincial officer of the NCIP Palawan Provincial Office, Turmines said the EPAs of Narra Nickel Mining and Development Corporation (NNMDC), McArthur Mining, Inc. (MMI) and Tesoro Mining and Development, Inc. (TMDI) have been invalidated by the DENR.

“The recent misleading and without legal basis of Narra Nickel Mining and Development Corporation, McArthur Mining, Inc. and Tesoro Mining and Development, Inc. conducting seminars, public consultations/hearings regarding and with the indigenous peoples of Narra and Bataraza, Palawan have come to our knowledge. It is in this regard that I wish to bring to your attention and as such be guided accordingly that the Exploration Permit Applications (EPA)/Mineral Production Sharing Agreement of the above-named companies have been declared null and void by the DENR. Therefore, they do not have any legal claim/right to conduct such activities. They are operating outside a legal or valid procedural framework,” Turmines wrote.

He said Redmont EPA has been given due course by the DENR on the same mining areas applied for by the said companies.

Turmines’ letter cited the DENR orders denying/canceling the three companies’ MPSA and EPAs, at the same time giving due course to Redmont. These are a resolution dated December 14, 2007 declaring MMI, TMDI and NNMDC null and void and the motions for reconsideration the three submitted on February 7, 2007 which were denied for lack of merit.

Redmont sent the letter to the regional NCIP office as it is the petitioner against the three in DENR cases 2007-01 to 03.

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By Alex J. Villanueva, Jr.

MEMBERS OF the Philippine Councilor’s League (PCL)-Palawan Chapter expressed their support to the responsible mining industry and sustainable live reef food fish trading in the province.

PCL-Palawan Chapter President and Board Member Jim Gerald Pe said the councilors of the province’s 23 municipalities support the responsible mining industry. “We assure our constituents that we will be vigilant on the proper disposal of waste and ensure safety nets for post mining operations,” he said.

”We also support the full enforcement of live fish ordinance that adheres to sustainable live reef food fish trading in the whole Palawan,” Pe added.

Responsible mining and sustainable fish trading are among the strategic issues affecting the province that gave birth to the “Coron Accord,” an agreement reached during a recent seminar in Coron town.

Other issues discussed during the seminar were Malampaya gas royalties, delineation of municipal waters and land and enforcement of related national and local laws with respect to violations of the cutting and recovery of matured trees in Palawan.

”We also support the provincial government’s claim for a just share and call for a quick resolution to the Malampaya gas project proceeds,” Pe said.

He assured that under his leadership, PCL-Palawan will always be supportive to the provincial board’s collegial pursuit and aspirations for the best that the future may bring for every Palaweño resident to reap and enjoy.

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By Cheryl A. Galili

BOARD MEMBER Modesto Rodriguez said there is a conflict between the Philippine Mining Law of 1995 and the soon-to-be implemented Department Administrative Order (DAO) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that seeks to “rationalize and harmonize them.”

Rodriguez, who several weeks ago filed in the provincial board an ordinance asking for a 25-year mining moratorium in the province, said the DENR’s administrative order that is aiming to transfer the granting of ore transport permit (OTP) solely under it is in total contradiction to the country’s mining law that provided the authority to governors and mayors.

The DAO, Rodriguez said needs further study before it is signed because there is a question about its legality. But allegedly, the DAO has already been signed by DENR Sec. Joselito Atienza.

He added that the DAO will also conflict with a local ordinance that requires mining companies applying for operation to conduct “mandatory public consultations” prior to the approval of their applications.

The board member said that before it is enforced, there is a need to amend the national law by the House of Representatives. “Can an administrative order amend the national law?” he asked.

However, he said that if the DENR implements the DAO, Palawan has no choice but to follow.

As quoted from an advance copy of the DAO obtained by the provincial board, it states that “consistent with the supervision, review and control powers of the DENR on small scale mining permit as provided in section 7, chapters 2 R.A 7160m, the Regional Director RD) of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Regional Office Concerned to his/her authority to issue Ore Transport Permit for large-scale mining operations, is solely authorized to issue an Ore Transport Permit for the transport of and/or shipment of ore(s) and/or metallic existing Small-scale Mining Permits and Small-Scale Mining Contracts issued by the Provincial Governors/Mayors.

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