Skip to main content

Keeping our Forests Better than Mining Coal

To get a better picture of how our island province of Catanduanes will fare even under conditions of the so-called responsible mining espoused by giant companies like the newcomer Altura Mining Limited, let us take a look at the present operation of Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc. (RRMI) and Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP).

With its avowed commitment to responsible mining and processing towards sustainable development, both firms presented to the small Albay island’s people the following diagram:

Readers should note that the mining and processing operation is spread out over at least 100 hectares of the mountain above existing residential areas. Imagine 100 hectares of forest in Caramoran, Bagamanoc and Panganiban cleared of trees for Altura’s coal-mining project.

For all the promises of the project proponents and supporters both in the national and local governments, there is little to show that the mining project has actually benefited Rapu-Rapu residents and lifted their lives from poverty. From 2005 to 2011, the island’s mining firm reportedly produced over P43 billion, or exactly P43,360,623.47, worth of precious minerals. From this stupendous sum, RRPP and RRMI paid the national government around P798 million in taxes Under the law, local government units – Albay and Rapu-Rapu – are supposed to get a share of 75 percent or P598 million. The mining oppositors ask: where did all this money go when Rapu-Rapu remains poor as ever?

The very same question could very well be asked of Altura, assuming it begins operation without vehement objections from Catandunganons, and its local supporters five years hence.

In the case of the high-grade sub-bituminous coal from Catanduanes favored by power plants, our reserve of 1.2 million tons of coal could be worth P5 billion today at the present price of US$100 per metric ton. That would be a lot of money, not only for Altura and its partners, but also for LGU officials whose coffers could be stuffed with their P75 million share in the excise taxes for just five years. And this does not even include the potential income they can get from the precious narra and other hardwood to be felled during the mining operation.

Indeed, there is money to be had in the proposed Altura mining project, but only for the operator, its investors, certain local businessmen who would deal with the company, and the usual shady characters in government, not to mention armed men on both sides of the ideological divide.


Rapu-rapu mine site

Catanduanes is a mountainous island ecosystem listed among the 20 provinces most susceptible to landslides, and anything bad that happens to its 60,000 hectares of forest land, including the 5,000 hectares that remain of its virgin forest, will seriously affect its people, flora and fauna. A hundred hectares in the forested boundaries of Caramoran, Bagamanoc and Panganiban, shorn of trees, mined for its coal and with mine tailings possibly contaminating rivers, streams and other water sources, will not be representative of the island paradise that we Catandunganons boast of to the rest of the world.

In the country’s experience, responsible mining does not guarantee that mining firms would be responsible for anything bad that could happen. We only need to see what happened in Marinduque in 1996, when a mine tailings spill led to the death of Boac river and the poisoning of both land and sea, to know the truth.

Seventy-five million pesos over five years cannot pay for the destruction of even a hundred hectares of life-sustaining forest, even if the people makes sure the money will not be stolen by thieves in government.

Source: Editorial, Catanduanes Tribune

Popular posts from this blog

Man Who Never Dies

Col. Salvador Rodolfo, Sr. (born 7 February 1919) is a Filipino War Hero who liberated the Island Province of Catanduanes in the Philippines from the clutches of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. He was known in Catanduanes as “Phantom” or the “Man who Never Dies” based on the comic book hero created by Lee Falk in 1936. He organized the Catanduanes Liberation Forces (CLF), the guerilla unit that paved the way for the liberation of Catanduanes in 1945. The CLF fought the Japanese without any external help. They were fearless and fought so hard that the Japanese forces were virtually destroyed before even the American forces, the supposed liberators, arrived in Catanduanes in 1945. Personal life Rodolfo was born in 1919 in Bato, Catanduanes, Philippines. He is a descendant of Don Juan Rodolfo of Almeria, Spain who went to the Philippines in the 18th Century and married the daughter of Datu Bantog who was then one of the Tribal Chieftains in Catanduanes in order to put t…

Arcilla, Political Law Bar Examiner - CT

A Viracnon has done it again. For four Sundays of September, law graduates undergo the most important rite of passage in the legal profession: the BAR examinations. The Bar is a rigorous test of eight subjects, each testing the graduates’ knowledge, reasoning and writing abilities. One of the examiners in the 2008 Bar Exam is Atty. Juanito Gianan Arcilla of Marcelo Alberto, Virac. Atty. Arcilla prepared the Bar questions on Political and International Law. The said exam consisted of the following subjects and its corresponding weighted average: Political and International Law (15%), Labor and Social Legislation (10%), Civil Law (15%), Taxation (15%), Mercantile Law (15%), Criminal Law (10%), Remedial Law (20%), and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (5%) for a total of 100%. Examiners are deemed experts in their respective fields, and are chosen on the basis on their contributions to legal education. Other examiners of the 2008 Bar were Atty. Salvador Poquiz (Labor and Social Le…

2008 Civil Service Examination Passers - Examination Passers

Civil Service Examination - Subprofessional
CSC RO V - Rawis, Legazpi City
Date: November 16, 2008 Seq # Examinee No. Examinee Name 1 582872ABALON, MARIAN DOROTHY O 2 586574ABRAGAN, MICHAEL FRANCIS F 3 586733ACAL, KAREN KAYE I 4 586575ACERON, MILANDRO B 5 582785ADOPTANTE, ANGELO LESTER N 6 582766AGUILAR, JEROSS R 7 582952AGUILAR, RORY S 8 586835ALPARAN, OLIVE A 9 586847ALVAREZ, MICHAELSON Y 10 582594ALVAREZ, SEYCHELLE M 11 582572ANGELES, MIRALYN A 12 582669ARCILLA, ARMIE A 13 582904ARCOS, EDEN R 14 582790ATIGA, RIENA M 15 586625AUREUS, EDGAR MANUEL A 16 582761AVENIDO, PRECIOUS B 17 582942AZORES, MYLA E 18 586762BAESA, MARC EDWIN S 19 582559BAEZA, ROWEL G 20 582682BAGHERI, CHERRYMAE C 21 586783BALINGBING, MAY ANN A 22 586661BARBONIO, EUGENE P 23 582812BARRAMEDA, LESLIE H 24 586558

Virac Airport Expansion

US$3-M Set Aside For Virac Airport Expansion The national government has reportedly secured a US$3 million grant for the expansion of Virac airport as a key component of the tourism development program of the Camarines Sur provincial government. This was announced last week by Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Assistant Secretary Cesar V. Sarmiento during an appearance at a gathering of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Catanduanes Chapter in Virac. Assec. Sarmiento revealed that the positive development was spurred by the effort of the administration of Camarines Sur Governor L-Ray Villafuerte to secure funds for the construction of an international airport at Caramoran town. Villafuerte’s proposal, however, has been met with stiff opposition from Caramoan residents, notably one of its native sons, Msgr. Manolo de los Santos, as the project would affect hectares of farmlands. The bishop of the Diocese of Virac reportedly wrote President Gloria Macapagal-…

Project 1.11.11

Lifted from Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento’s privilege speech in the House of Representatives Dec. 13, 2010 is this urgent message to all those who love life here in this island). Half of Catanduanes used to be covered by lush, virgin forests untouched by man and inhabited only by wildlife. Sadly, that forest cover is now down to a mere 12 percent, even less, thanks to the continuing encroachment of human settlements and the relentless and illegal cutting of trees over the years. We cannot be proud of the verifiable fact that our island still has the highest percentage of forest cover in the Bicol region. We cannot, because we have not done enough to halt its decline. When typhoons Reming and Loleng thus ravaged Catanduanes, national television feasted on pictures of trees and cut logs floating by our coastlines after being carried down by floodwaters from our mountains. Just like what happened in Ormoc, Leyte when a flash flood claimed 8,000 lives in 1991 due to illegal logging an…