Zambales governor: River dredging operations legal

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IBA, Zambales: Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso on Wednesday said dredging and desilting operations at the mouth of the Santo Tomas River bordering the towns of San Felipe and San Narciso are legal and should not have been stopped by authorities.

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An inter-agency raiding team led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), according to Deloso, should have coordinated with the provincial government before they stopped the dredging operations, which resulted in the arrest of 10 foreign crew of vessels used in hauling and loading of sand extracted from the river.

Deloso, who gave Great River Valley Philippines Inc. (GRVPI), a Notice to Proceed permit on May 5, said all pertinent papers are in order, including an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued on December 16, 2011 and signed by Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Region 3 Director Lormelyn Claudio and a permit from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) issued on May 16 and signed by its manager Marieta Odicta.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) EMB’s ECC No. R03-111-0562 was issued on December 16, 2011, to GRVPI for its proposed dredging and desilting project in Barangay Manglicmot, San Felipe, Zambales.

The GRVPI, in January 2013, applied for a lease application on 300,000 square meters of land in Barangay Manglicmot, San Felipe, Zambales.

Last April 20, it acquired favorable consideration on the issuance of certification from the PPA.
Pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement entered between the Province of Zambales and the GRVPI, Deloso issued on May 5 a Notice to Proceed to dredge and desilt Santo Tomas River.

On May 16, the PPA through PMO Northern Luzon port manager Odicta advised Benjamin Bautista, the GRVPI representative, that it has no objection to the GRVPI’s request to load approximately 50,000 metric tons of lahar aboard MV Hua Heng 167 at the San Felipe anchorage area.

On May 18, the GRVPI also secured from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) the required Export Declaration (ED) No. 051866 for the transport of sand to Singapore.

“Every document required by the government was met by the dredging company to show it is legal and right. How come they come into our province and harass these people who are helping us desilt the lahar-blocked river?” Deloso asked.

He said more than six billion metric tons of pyroclastic materials are still clogging and silting major river systems of Zambales, particularly Bucao, Maloma, Maculcol and Santo Tomas, and are now higher than the ground levels of the residential communities nearby.

In 2009, flash floods struck Botolan during the onset of Typhoon Frank when an entire barangay (village) was almost wiped out by a heavy flow of water that Bucao River could not contain because of lahar overflow.

To prevent imminent danger and to avoid the repeat of what happened in Botolan, Deloso looked for ways to fast-track the dredging, declogging and desilting of all the lahar-clogged rivers in Zambales, a statement from the governor’s office said.

“I will fight for my people and I will use possible ways to remove those lahar and sand in our rivers that are killing our people and destroying our province every time a typhoon visits,” Deloso said.

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