BLACK SAND MINING THREATENS ILOCOS SUR, A Documentary Note

by Albert Rosario Rabe on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 6:51pm on facebook.com.

ILOCOS SUR COLLECTIVE ACTION for the PROTECTION of the ENVIRONMENT (ISCAPE)
2701 Poblacion, Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur

BLACK SAND MINING THREATENS ILOCOS SUR
A Documentary Note, Updated As of April 3, 2012

Introduction

Alarmed by the threat posed by the sudden disappearance of the sand dunes and dramatic erosion of the coastal areas in Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur, the residents gathered for collective action on February 26, 2012 in the Municipal Auditorium and bonded together as Sta. Catalina Action for the Protect ion of the Environment (SCAPE).  A Manifesto against the ongoing exploration and extraction of black sand along the coastal areas since 2009, as the result of the collective analysis and discernment, signed by the residents of Sta. Catalina, was presented to President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, III on March 6, 2012.

Confronted with the bigger picture of the damaging continuing exploration, the collective action against the destruction of the coastal areas, had to be expanded with the participation of all affected coastal municipalities in Ilocos Sur, from southernmost town of Tagudin, going up north to Sta. Cruz, Sta. Lucia, Candon, Santiago, Sta. Maria, Narvacan, Santa, Caoayan, Vigan, Sta. Catalina, San Vicente, Sto. Domingo, Magsingal, San Juan, Cabugao and Sinait.  On March 11, 2012, the collective action against black sand mining initiated in Sta. Catalina as SCAPE (Sta. Catalina Action for the Protection of the Environment), expanded into province wide action as ISCAPE (Ilocos Sur Collective Action for the Protection of the Environment). A Minifesto presenting the bigger picture of the threat of Black Sand Mining, practically along all the coastal municipalities of the whole province, was endorsed also to the President on March 23, 2012.

A survey documentary with the national media coverage, made by the ISCAPE group held on March 18, 2012, along the eroding coastal areas in Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur, led to the surprise discovery of the Black San Mining Processing Structures already built in Sitio Namnama, Barangay Tamorong of Sta. Catalina, ILocos Sur, by Taiwanese nationals.


Ilocos Sur Black Sand Mining: From 2008 Discreet Operation to 2011 Building Processing Structures

Discreet Black Sand Mining in Ilocos Sur in disguise of exploration, extraction and sand dredging started in 2009 with three initial testing controlled coastal areas, Tagudin in the southernmost coastal town of Ilocos Sur, Caoayan and San Vicente in the central area. Without consultations among the residents of the affected areas, behind doors deals with the local officials, and armed with permits from government agencies, discreet offshore black sand mining became operational.
BLACK SAND MINING THREATENS ILOCOS SUR, A Documentary Note, p.2

As residents along the affected coastal areas eventually woke up with their sand dunes vanishing instantly, coastal lines eroding dramatically and experiencing high salinity of drinking water due to the disappearance of black sand, after a year of exploration, extraction and dredging activities, the operation quickly expanded practically to adjacent coastal municipalities,  from Tagudin to its adjacent towns of Sta. Cruz and Sta. Lucia, from Caoayan to Vigan, and from San Vicente to Sta. Catalina, and eventually to all coastal towns of Ilocos Sur.

In 2008, the families, including the children of the residents of coastal barangay Nagtupacan, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur walked three kilometers from their home barangay to the municipal center, in protest against the mining activities in their coastal residential area. In 2012, the residents of San Sebastian, neighboring coastal barangay of Nagtupacan of the same municipality of San Vicente, filed their complaint against the black sand mining activities at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region I. Their protest and complaints were silenced with lies, threat, favors and unconcern.

As of January 31, 2012, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Region I complete lists of Existing Exploration Permits and Existing Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements, consist of the following:

A.      Complete List of Existing Exploration Permits (EPs)
1.      19 Colossal Mining Corporation, Mr Tyrone A. Ong – President, with address, 8th Floor, Galleria Corporate Center, EDSA cor Ortigas Ave, Quezon City, OEP 2006-002 (First Renewal), Offshore areas of Vigan City, Sta. Catalina, and Caoayan, Ilocos Sur, 1,427.91 Magnetite Sand 12/18/2006  6/18/2010 Ongoing exploration.
2.      The same company and address, OEP-2007-004 (First Renewal) Offshore areas of Candonh, Sta. Lucia, Tagudina dn Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur. 4999.0764 Magnetite Sand 8/7/2007  1/26/2011 Ongoing exploration
B.      Complete List of Existing Financial or Technic al Assistance Agreements (FTAAs)
1.      6 Altamina Exploration and Resources, Inc, Jose T. Limjoco – President with address, Unit 1, Ayala Heights Townhomes I, Mactan Road, Ayala Heights Village, Quezon City, 06-2010-1 Magsingal, Sto Domingo, San Vicente, Sta. Catalina, Vigan, Caoayan, Santa, Narvacan, Sta. Maria, Sinait, San Esteban, Santiago, Candon, San Juan, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur; Currimao, Pinili, Badoc, Ilocos Norte; and San Fabian, Mangaldan, Bimmaley, Lingayen, Alaminos and Dagupan City, Pangasinan, 9,588.24 Magnetite Sand and other associated mineral  6/29/2010 Ongoing Exploration.

At the later months of 2011, discreet offshore back sand mining operation activities have become bolder with the construction of two enclosed wall structures, 18 inches thick and 12 feet tall, one with area of three hectares and the other with area of five hectares, erected by Taiwanese nationals, for hauling and processing of black sand mining, in sitio Namnama, barangay Tamorong, Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur. Access road of 700 meters long and 6 meters

BLACK SAND MINING THREATENS ILOCOS SUR, A Documentary Note, p.3

wide, connecting from Nagtupacan, San Vicente where explicit mining activities are ongoing since 2009, is newly built
passing though the residential area of 84 families in Sitio Namnama, barangay Tamorong, Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur. Some families were asked to move their houses for the construction of the two enclosed wall structures and for the access road. Families with houses made of concrete materials were given P40,000 each and families with houses made of light materials were P25,000 each for their transfer.

With the construction of these structures and permits given for ongoing exploration, mining activities are being expanded and intensified. The remaining sand dunes in Sitio Namnama shall vanish in no time, eroding all the coastal lines and eventually displacing the residents of the coastal areas.

On April 2, 2012, the coastal residents in Sitio Namnama and Calawaan formally brought their alarming situation to the Office of the Mayor. The building of the two enclosed walls  Black Sand Mining Facilities in Sitio Namnama with access wide road connecting the sitio with the Taiwanese Bunk House in Nagtupacan, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur,  is very disturbing. The building of six meters wide access road, passing through the houses in sitio Namnama and even displacing some families, clearly was not intended for the residents but for the use of big trucks to transport black sand from the shore line with enclosed walled facilities ready. The existing low welcome arc structure in Nagtupacan was torn down and raised higher in order to allow the big trucks of Black Sand Mining. The access road built in Sitio Namnama, Tamorong St. Catalina, Ilocos Sur, was sourced out from San Vicente, not from Sta. Catalina funds. Taiwanese nationals intruding the municipal territory of Sta. Catalina are even giving orders where to place the houses of the informal settlers in Sitio Namnama. They are seen frequently digging and exploring in the northern Sand Dunes area of Calawaan, indicating clear activity of expanding Black Sand Mining. With the progressive activities of building facilities, soon the Sitio of Namnama, Tarmorong, Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur will become intensified area of Black Sand Mining, even bigger than the blatant on shore Black Sand Mining in San Sebastian, San Vidente, Ilocos Sur already in operation since 2008 as closely guarded with armed security.


Conclusion

Two weeks after the Sendong devastating flashflood in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities, the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences, warned other cities can suffer the same fate because of similarities in their topography. These include Vigan, Laoag, Alaminos and General Santos, which may be vulnerable to disastrous floods similar to those brought by tropical sorms Sendong and Ondoy. The inundation map of Vigan and the neighboring locales of , Sta, Catalina, San Vicente, Bantay, San Ildefonso and Sto. Domingo shows many areas that could experience floods less and over1.5 meter deep. The more than 60 years of denuding the forests and the

BLACK SAND MINING THREATENS ILOCOS SUR, A Documentary Note, p.4

mountains in Ilocos Sur due to the tobacco industry and the aggression of Black Sand Mining, aggravate the threat of impending flashfloods.

Despite of the protest and opposition of the people, the aggression of Black Sand Mining continues to intensify and expand as the interest of the powerful. Gripped with political lordism, subservient local officials cannot stand to protect the people and the land. The people especially the poor along the coastal areas are left to the devouring aggression of Black Sand Mining.

With the intensifying expansion of mining operations in Ilocos Sur, all the coastal  municipalities are endangered. Ilocos Sur is indeed threatened.  It is urgent that all permit applications for black sand exploration and or extraction must to be DENIED, all permits already granted must  be REVOKED, that all operations of black sand mining on shore and off shore, explicit or discreet must be STOPPED, and anyone found to have violated the Law should be dealt with in accordance with the Law.


For the ISCAPE:


Mr. Melchor P. Ines
Convenor


Work Underway inside of the Northern 12 Feet Tall and 18 inches thick Enclosed Five Hectare Wall of the Taiwanese Black Sand MIning Operation Facility built in Namnama, Tamorong, Sta. Catalina Ilocos Sur.
Save Ilocos! Stop black sand/magnetite mining in Ilocos Region and Cagayan. Sign the petition now. Join CUADERNO ILOCANO KDPY.


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