BAGAC, Bataan - A group calling itself the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Bagac on Monday staged a protest against a company allegedly poised to conduct black sand mining in about 16,000 hectares of land along the coastlines of five villages here.
Carrying streamers and chanting “No to Mining in Bagac”, they marched from the Japanese-Filipino Friendship Tower to the municipal hall. After a short stop at the town hall, they marched towards the Poblacion and then attended a Holy Mass.
The protesters composed of fishermen, farmers, Aeta natives, members of religious organizations, workers of the Montemar Beach Club, members of Gabriela and concerned citizens then marched again to Barangay Pag-asa along rows of beach resorts.
Nick Ancheta, municipal administrator, said they could not understand the purpose and timing of the rally that he considered as more of a political action.
He said that the sangguniang bayan and Bagac Mayor Ramildel Rosario have not approved any mining permit.
The issuance of a permit is under the domain of the sangguniang panlalawigan and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that may even reach the President of the Republic of the Philippines, the municipal administrator said.
“No way na maaaring mag-isyu kami ng permit on mining,” Ancheta said, adding “definitely no black sand mining in Bagac.”
He said that the Bagac SB has earlier retracted its previous resolution of endorsement to a mining firm. Mayor Del Rosario even wrote an environmentalist group in the town about this, Ancheta said.
Ferdinand Macaranas, a businessman and spokesman of the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Bagac, said no politician backed the protest action. “Walang pulitika, laban ito ng mga taong naiintindihan ang panganib na idudulot ng black sand mining,” he said.
He claimed that Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corp. applied on August 26, 2010 to conduct mining on magnetite sand and other associated minerals in 13,456 hectares along the Bagac and Morong areas.
The firm again applied on January 4, 2011 to mine for magnetite sand and other associated minerals in 1,659 hectares, also in the two towns whose coastlines are adjacent to the West Philippine Sea, he said.
The protesters’ spokesman said Bagac and Morong are supposed to be no mining zones being tourist destinations and protected wildlife sanctuaries.
“Ang Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar at Montemar Beach Club na parehong “triple A” category ay matatagpuan sa Bagac samantalang ang baybaying dagat ng dalawang bayan naman ay pinangingitlugan ng pawikan,” Macaranas said.
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