Mining Consultations in Catanduanes Reset - INQ

VIRAC, Catanduanes—The Department of Energy (DoE) has reset public consultations on coal mining projects in three towns in Catanduanes for next month.

Energy Undersecretary Ramon Allan Oca cited some logistics problems in Manila as reason for the postponement of consultations in Caramoran, San Andres, and Panganiban towns.

In a phone interview, Oca said the agency had to prepare a budget for the travels and arrange the schedules of personnel who would be assigned to the consultations.

The department, he said, was also preparing for the budget hearings and other activities.

The postponement came on the heels of Philippine Daily Inquirer reports about plans to mine coal in the island-province by Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc., which is owned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s businessman-ally, Enrique Razon.

Panganiban Mayor Gregorio Angeles confirmed that the public consultations would not be held in his town.


Earlier, Bishop Manolo De los Santos of the Diocese of Virac was informed that the DoE had scrapped the visit of a three-member team tasked with conducting an information, education, and communication campaign originally scheduled Monday in Caramoran, Tuesday in San Andres, and September 17 in Panganiban.

The provincial board’s secretary, Ursus De Quiroz, however, said the team had been invited to appear before the board tomorrow.

The DoE’s legal and technical team was to discuss the Philippine Coal Contract and Permitting System, issues and problems related to coal exploration and mining in the province, and DoE rules and regulations related to coal development and production in the country.

No definite date

De los Santos has urged the Catholic faithful to participate in the public hearings and air their sentiments so that government agencies would be guided accordingly on pending petitions for a coal operating contract on coal blocks bid out by the DoE in June.

“Their decisions shall undoubtedly determine the quality of life of every Catandunganon in the days to come,” he said. “The future of our children’s children is in our hands.”

Patricia Daza, DoE director for public affairs, said there was no definite date yet for next month’s hearings. But Oca gave assurance that the local and municipal officials would be consulted before Monte Oro Resources could even launch its operations.

Besides, he said, the company had yet to secure the necessary permits from the DoE and other government agencies.
Reports from Fernan Gianan, Inquirer Southern Luzon, and Amy Remo in Manila

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:07:00 09/15/2009

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