IBA, Zambales: Former Zambales governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. has belied claims by incumbent governor Amor Deloso that he sold the mountain soil of the province to the Chinese that is allegedly used in the reclamation of the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Ebdane said the allegations were a figment of Deloso’s imaginations.”
He was blamed for the leveling of at least two and a half mountains in the province.
Deloso earlier claimed that truckloads of Zambales soil were hauled out of the province, after the area was sold to the Chinese by Ebdane.
He was even quoted in a report published in a newspaper (not The Manila Times) claiming that the Chinese military was occupying a 500-hectare mountain area in Santa Cruz town in Zambales where a Chinese missile is supposedly stationed.
Deloso, however, clarified this in an interview with The Manila Times, saying “This Chinese military is based at an airport built by China at the reclaimed area near Scarborough Shoal, which was built out of the mountain soil of Santa Cruz.”
The Philippines also calls the shoal Panatag.
When asked by the media on Wednesday if he can prove his claim, Deloso said ,“It’s up to the authorities to prove it.”
Ebdane said it was the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that in 2004 gave permits to mining firms to explore and extract minerals from the mountains of Zambales.
“Historical records indicate that the DENR issued Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) to these mining firms and mining explorations happened after that,” the former governor added.
He said actual mining happened in 2007 and it was at its peak in Zambales in 2008.
“Who was the governor from 2007 to 2010? It’s Deloso,” Ebdane pointed. out.
Ebdane , a former chief of the Philippine National Police, national security adviser, secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) and secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the Arroyo administration, won the provincial top post during the 2010 elections and was reelected again in 2013 but lost to Deloso in the May 2016 elections.
He said nobody can sell the mountains because they are government property and no people in the government can initiate transfer of property.
Ebdane also debunked Deloso’s claim that the Zambales mountain soil was taken to Bajo de Masinloc (another name for Scarborough Shoal), describing it as unbelievable. He said its composition is not suitable for reclamation and nickel ore is an expensive mineral.
Current Environment Secretary Regina Lopez has ordered an investigation of the alleged use of mountain soil from Zambales for reclamation work in the Scarborough Shoal.