Davao Oriental Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to close down a mining firm operating near two protected areas of the province.
Dayanghirang raised the issue on the side of last Tuesday night’s colorful ceremonial lighting of Asean heritage landmarks in Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary.
The governor voiced concern on the operation of Asiaticus Mining Corporation (Amcor) that he said is already affecting the Pujada Bay and Mt. Hamiguitan protected areas. He said the Environment Clearance Certificate (ECC) of Amscor was already suspended by then DENR Secretary Gina Lopez after the provincial and municipal governments complained about the firm’s operations.
However, the governor said he wants DENR to permanently close down its operations.
The operation of Amscor is totally disadvantagious to the province and very damaging to the environment, according to the provincial chief executive. Although, the operation is currently suspended, Dayanghirang said the company could still operate if the permit to operate will not be cancelled.
Dayanghirang said he is seeking a dialogue with DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to discuss the province’s concern.
According to Dayanghirang, Amscor applied its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) many years ago. The areas covered by its operation however are now declared Philippine Eagle Sanctuary while Mt. Hamiguitan was inscribed as the Philippine’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 and declared as an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2016.
Dayanghirang said there is already a provincial ordinance banning mining operations in the province. However, he was informed there are at least five active mining applications.
The governor lamented that fact that the provincial and municipal local government units are not being consulted before an ECC or MPSA is approved.
The province is also contesting the approval of another application of another mining company in Pintatagan, Banaybanay town.
Dayanghirang said he was informed the said mining firm’s bidding is still with MGB but it is allegedly quarrying minerals in the area.
Dayanghirang led provincial officials, employees and residents during the ASEAN landmark lighting at Mt. Hamiguitan, which is the first and only mountain range in the Philippines inscribed in the world heritage list.
“This early, we have identified Mount Hamiguitan as among our competitive advantages, and we will build on it. Our children and their children deserve to experience this paradise too. It is like being in paradise when we enter Mount Hamiguitan’s bonsai fields,” he said in his speech. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)