We decided to post this article from the Philippine News Agency if only for its rather interesting title. But who will crack down on whom when it is the national government and DENR officials whose practices are anti-environment? On a sadder note, we have also seen the DENR thwarting the initiatives of pro-environment LGUs, esp. on the issue of large-scale mining.
"Responsible mining" will go down in history as this generation's most infamous lie that the mining industry and the DENR have foisted on the Filipino people.
In Albay, we have a new acronym for the DENR: Destroyer of the Environment and Natural Resources.
MANILA, May 16 (PNA)-– Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will continue cracking down on local officials who are remiss in their duty of protecting the environment.
“This campaign won’t spare anyone as we’d like to see more of them land in jail,” DENR Secretary Lito Atienza said.
He said gave such assurance after DENR charged with graft before the Ombudsman this week Ceciron Cawaling, mayor of Aklan province’s Malay municipality where world-famous Boracay Island is located.
DENR implicated Cawaling in alleged construction irregularities there and charged he demonstrated gross neglect of duty and gross incompetence by failing to control building activities, particularly in part of Boracay’s forestland.
The agency is concerned unabated construction will degrade Boracay’s environment.
“This is the first of such case DENR filed against a local official,” Atienza noted.
He said local officials must be at the forefront of environmental protection as communities under their respective jurisdiction will ultimately benefit from such action.
”Local government units must be part of the solution,” he said.
In the complaint she filed on the agency’s behalf, lawyer and DENR Undersecretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering noted Cawaling favoured a private developer when he delayed signing of Resolution 042 which calls for a moratorium on new construction of commercial and residential structures in Boracay.
This developer, J. King and Sons Company Inc., is behind Boracay Crown Regency Hotel and Convention Centre there.
Sering also said building official Elizer Casidsid, who acted under Cawaling’s authority, issued on October 10 last year, or two weeks before the mayor signed Resolution 042, permits for building, electrical, sanitary and plumbing activities for this project.
”This is pure and simple banditry,” Atienza noted.
In its complain, DENR attached a copy of its Region VI Regional Executive Director Lormelyn Claudio’s March 7, 2008 letter to Cawaling calling his attention to reported water pumping in part of the island’s wetland where the project is so he can stop such.
DENR also included in the complaint its Region VI office’s April 2008 certification that 4,898.01 square meters of the developer’s 8,508-square meter project site falls within forestlands for protection forest.
The complaint likewise included a May 2, 2008 DENR inspection report on the project which said continuous hauling and unloading of soil excavated from the project site’s elevated portion reduced the wetland area already.
“Disappearing wetland can only happen with the good mayor’s consent and authority,” Atienza said.
Earlier, DENR overruled an order of Nueva Vizcaya province Governor Luisa Lloren Cuaresma for OceanaGold to stop alleged quarrying within its mining site in Didipio municipality there and to pay local tax on such activity.
“I ordered the company to proceed with developing its planned processing facility as it can’t be delayed by the governor’s illegal order,” Atienza said.
He clarified OceanaGold is undertaking earthworks to prepare the area for this facility’s construction.
“OceanaGold isn’t in quarrying as it’s putting up a plant so such activity isn’t taxable,” he said.
DENR already notified Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police and other mining authorities about the matter, he continued.
Atienza admitted feeling “feeling disappointed and frustrated” about developments in Didipio, particularly as he said DENR has been pushing OceanaGold to commence next year gold and copper commercial production.
OceanaGold’s estimated average annual copper and gold production is two million metric tons annually.
Atienza also said OceanaGold is duty-bound to provide education, health and other social development assistance to the community where it operates aside from paying taxes due.
“If we stop at this point in time, it’ll be a loss to all,” he said. (PNA)