MANILA, Oct. 9, 2011—Cagayan residents called on government to stop magnetite mining along Cagayan River and the province’s coastlines.
Protesting what they call ‘human and environmental injustice’ the clergy of Tuguegarao archdiocese and the Federation of Anti-mining Advocates of Cagayan (FAMAC), yesterday led rallyists demanding an end for mining operations in the province.
The continued extraction of magnetite sand along the province northern coastlines and Cagayan River in Lal-lo and Camalaniugan, has worried residents because of its impact on environment and livelihood of citizens.
Antonio Liquidan, vice president of FAMAC said the extraction of sand may lead to erosion and destruction of the ecosystem.
“Cagayan River is a Key Biodiversity Area and our people depend on its bounty. However, due to licenses given by the local government, the destruction of the riverbed is legalized, hence, which may cause gradual soil erosion and killing of riverine ecosystem,” he said.
Liquidan pointed out that extraction of magnetite sand on the seashores of Aparri, Gonzaga and Buguey undermines the capacity of the coastlines to block storm surges.
The destruction of Buguey sand dunes, he said, threatens the fisher folk community and the neighboring farmlands.
He further noted that 80 percent of the town is an Important Bird Area (IBA) considered by Birdlife International.
Aparri parish priest, Fr. Adelbert Barot, lamented the inaction of government on the issue.
“We are saddened that our national government does not heed our call. Without our knowledge Cagayan River and our shorelines has been mapped out to be sold. This is an utter insult to the integrity of creation and violation of human rights,” he said.
Barot explained that the whole issue boils down to exacerbate disaster risks especially in the time of climate crisis in which unpredictable extreme weather conditions may happen anytime. Natural physical set-up of rivers and coastlines serves as natural disaster risk reduction mechanisms.
Meanwhile, Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator Jaybee Garganera, stressed that “the government should review its policies especially in implementing various environmental laws which will aggravate the disaster risks in the shorelines of Cagayan Province and the neighboring provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur down to Pangasinan.’
“A thorough investigation should be conducted especially in the granting of permits to individuals and companies to extract magnetite sand from Cagayan River which is considered as Key Biodiversity Area. With the challenge of climate crisis, the local and national governments should collectively stop processing the magnetite mining applications in northern shorelines of Regions 1 and 2,” Garganera said.
The mining of magnetite sand in the province is said to be operated by foreign companies. (CBCPNews)