By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY – A Taiwanese company reportedly continues its magnetite mining activities along the seashores of Caparacadan, Caoayan, San Sebastian and San Vicente in Ilocos Sur, ignoring the cease and desist orde issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau -Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) Region 1.
The order, signed by MGB Acting Regional Director Carlos Tayag was issued on January 28 to the Wellresource Mining, Inc. owned by a Taiwanese national Willy Sy. Given copies of the order are the office of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENR), Environmental and Natural Resources Management (ENRM) and Caoayan Municipal Mayor Germilina S. Goulart.
According to Defend Ilocos Against Mining and Plunder (Defend Ilocos) reports, the mining company is still operating 24 hours a day seven days a week. The organization added that 10 truckloads of mined magnetite were hauled from Caparacadan, Caoayan to Salomague port in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur last February 14.
The order was the result of a site inspection of technical staff of MGB Region 1 with representatives from Defend Ilocos and Social Action Center (SAC) of Nueva Segovia territory of the Catholic Church on January 22. The inspection found out that the company’s magnetite sand extraction activities in Caparacadan in Caoayan is outside the area covered by the industrial sand and gravel permit issued by the Ilocos Sur governor. It was also found out that it is within the 200 meters on shore zone that is closed to mining.
According to Defend Ilocos, the cease-and-desist order undoubtedly debunks the claim of some local officials that the mining operation in Caparacadan is a responsible one. “Evidently, the issue is more than just the failure to conduct a public consultation. It is also the failure of some local officials to ensure procedural requirements and safeguard the right of their constituents to a safe, healthy and balanced environment,” the Defend Ilocos said.
The environmental group challenged MGB and the local government of Caoayan to execute the order and bring down the full force in holding liable all those who are responsible for the violations committed in the course of Wellresource Mining Company’s operations.
The site inspection was prompted by a petition filed by the residents, environmental groups and even local government officials against magnetite mining in the area. Defend Ilocos also gave an invitation letter to MGB Region 1 on October 17 for a joint inspection.