BAGUIO CITY: Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Singson cried foul at tirades against him by anti-magne- tite mining groups, including the powerful Roman Catholic Church, following the alleged proliferation of black sand mining in the province.
“Why don’t they ask where the Nueva Segovia Diocese gets its multi-million investment in Ilocos Sur?” an irate Singson said.
Local government executives have been ordered to strictly enforce restrictions on black sand and beach mining to prevent the destruction of coastlines and stop the illegal extraction of minerals.
In a memorandum dated April 4, 2014, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in coordination with the MGB, ordered provincial executives to cancel the sand and gravel permits and file charges against entities involved in black sand mining.
The order also enjoins local government units to strictly ban the extraction of minerals in beaches.
In spite of this and the pronouncements of Singson and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) that it doesn’t exist in the province, black sand mining appears to be alive and well, according to residents of Caoayan and two island communities of Santa town.
Donna Peta, convenor of the group Defend Ilocos Against Mining Plunder, said the reason why residents doubt Singson is because of the appearance of 12 ships since May 12, 2014 about 200 meters from the shorelines of Villamar and Poro Island.
Peta said the ships—six dredge vessels with magnetic separators and 6 barges—are owned by Isla Verde Mining & Development Company and Mega East Archipelago Resources Corporation.
The provincial government said the former is dredging the Abra River while the latter is rehabilitating the Mestizo River.
However, residents and various groups, including the Social Action Center of the Arch Diocese of Nueva Segovia in Vigan City, doubt this story.
They cited the case against Hong Ze Mining in Barangay Tamorong, Sta. Catalina town that claimed to be dredging the Bantaoay River.
The company was later raided and dismantled by the Inter-Agency Anti-Illegal Mining Task Force in August 2013 for violating the 200-meter no-mining zone along beaches and for illegally extracting ore and transporting it.