GONZAGA, Cagayan: Mines and Geo- sciences Bureau (MGB) Region 2 director Mario Ancheta on Monday denied reports of black sand mining inside an old cemetery here.
“Reports of quarrying or black sand extractions inside an old and abandoned cemetery in Gonzaga town are not true. It is prohibited to conduct such activity in areas like cemeteries,” Ancheta told The Manila Times.
Chinese mining contractors also said “it is absolutely not good for our business to disturb such hollowed as sacred grounds; we don’t want to conduct our activities in places like cemeteries because we don’t want to be cursed.”
Gonzaga town is one of the remaining black sand mining sites in northern Cagayan coastal areas sanctioned by the national and local government. Extractions are also present in Aparri and Buguey towns.
As far back as 2007, Chinese businessmen have been eyeing to conduct mining operations in Gonzaga but could not take off because of opposition led by local Church-backed anti-mining groups due to perceptions of environmental destructions.
“The Chinese have high respects for the dead. Their culture prohibits the desecration especially their dead,” Ancheta said.
In Barangay Casitan along this town’s shoreline, an old cemetery, which has been slowly eaten up by sea waves and change of sea current direction was long abandoned.
Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. said the destruction of the cemetery was not caused by mining activities but gradually being eaten up by sea waves and or the change of strong sea current. Residents in the village said there was extraction of black sand near the area before but the cemetery or the abandoned graves were spared from mining activity.
“We will not allow the dese-cration of sacred places in our town, especially our dead,” Pen-tecostes said.