Cagayan River (File photo by MELVIN GASCON / Inquirer Northern Luzon)
MANILA, Philippines — The Pacific Offshore Exploration Inc. (POEI) on Wednesday vowed that no black sand mining would take place in dredging operations at the mouth of Cagayan River in Aparri, Cagayan.
The firm’s legal counsel, Dominador Say, said this during a session of the Provincial Board of Cagayan, amid allegations of black sand mining activities in the dredging project which seeks to make way for the reopening of the Port of Aparri.
The board earlier appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the dredging as it posed a threat to the environment and the livelihood of residents.
READ: Cagayan execs seek Duterte’s help vs ‘black sand mining’
But Say said that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau itself reported that the commercial value of the magnetite ore found in the black sand of Cagayan River in Aparri is either of low or no value.
Say also clarified that the actual dredging of the river had not commenced as they had only conducted exploratory and testing activities, which are among the requirements before their full operation.
The lawyer further denied that his firm did not have the necessary permit for the project and that they were earning about $50 million, or about P2.6 billion, a month from the alleged black sand mining.
On the issue of Aparri fisherfolk losing their source of livelihood, Say said POEI would be ready to employ them during the declogging operations at the mouth of the river.
Approved by the provincial board
The provincial government signed the memorandum of agreement with POEI for the project last June.
Say said the provincial board itself was the one that selected the POEI for the project and that board also approved the move of Gov. Manuel Mamba to enter into the agreement.
Mamba has defended the move, saying that the dredging project did not involve black sand mining while reiterating that the project merely seeks to make way for the reopening of the Port of Aparri.
“I would resign if they can prove that it is black sand mining. It is dredging, plain and simple,” Mamba said in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
READ: WHAT WENT BEFORE: Illegal black sand mining
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