By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr., BicolToday.com
SORSOGON CITY – This time, concerned citizens are making their voices heard when they seek the court assistance to redress the grievances committed by the mining operators in Bolacawe, in Matnog town here in Sorsogon. They are in the forefront to stop the illegal operation of the iron ore mine in the area.
The Alyansa Laban sa Mina sa Matnog (ALMA), together with Fr. Alex Jerus, parish priest of Matnog and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Sorsogon, impleaded DENR Sec. Ramon Paje, Governor Raul Lee, Director Reynulfo Juan of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau for their failure to act on the environmental damage caused by the on-going mining operation of iron ore in Barangay Bolacawe and Bon-ot Daco, in the Municipality of Matnog.
The case started in 2009 when ANTONES Enterprises, GLOBAL Summit Mines Development Corporation and TR Ore, together with private respondents do not have the proper papers and documents started the construction of roads leading to the present mine site disregarding rights of affected property owners said Alex Castidades, one of the plaintiffs of the case. After a year of non-action from concern agencies of the government, the group together with concerned citizens and NGO’s seeks the intervention of the court to redress their grievance. It was filed at 2:50 pm, today, with case no. 2011-8338, praying for a continuing mandamus, damages, attorney’s fees with prayer for the issuance of a temporary environment protection order. The National Union of People’s Lawyer, represented by Atty. Joven Laura will handle the case for the plaintiffs.
In an interview, Atty.Joven Laura said, the operation of the Bolacawe mine is illegal for it is not within the legal framework of RA 7076, RA 7492, RA 7160 and the acts of Governor Lee issuing a permit to operate the mines is at best reasoned in total disregard of mining laws. The plaintiffs stands that there is no mining operation in the area based on the provisions of the mining laws, that the existing iron ore mine did not possess the required authority from the government since the operation of the iron ore mine at Bolacawe, failed to comply the intent and purpose of the mining laws. In their position they are questioning the authority of Governor Lee to issue permit to mine iron ore, thus the operation is illegal from the beginning. When asked if there is a collateral damage to other provincial officials who may have a hand in the operation of the iron ore mine, Attorney Laura, just smile in jest.
In their manifestations plaintiffs alleged that Governor Lee and his predecessor Sally Lee made it appear that they have the power to grant permit when they have none attaching as annexes the Small Scale Mining Permit issued by Sally A. Lee and Raul R. Lee. Reynulfo Juan was im-pleaded for his failure to act judiciously in his capacity as Director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau. That of Sec. Ramon Paje, in his failure to act on the damage to the environment brought by the operation of the iron ore mine.
The plaintiffs revealed that persons operating the mines are not locals contrary to the intent of the Small Scale Mining Act, as in the case of Antones Enterprises is owned by Antonio Ocampo whose official address is at Tomolin, Ligao City, that of Victoria A. Ajero is from Barangay Bitan-o Legazpi City, while Alfredo M. Aguilar and Juan M. Aguilar are residents of Barangay Masaga, Rapu-rapu, Albay. Atty. Laura emphasize that the process of documenting the legality of the iron ore mine in Matnog was done in haste, negating the interest of the community for never was the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board convened to study the impact of the mining activities in Matnog.
The plaintiffs prays for the issuances of a writ commanding the respondents to immediately stop the mining operation in the Municipality of Matnog and requiring them to files their respective answers according to the rules and procedures of environmental cases, to issue a temporary environment protection order commanding Antonio C. Ocampo Jr., Victoria A. Ajero, Alfredo M. Aguilar and Juan M. Aguilar, private respondents of the case and the other respondents to stop the mining operations. For the respondent public officials, that they be commanded to stop the mining operation in the Municipality of Matnog, conduct an investigation for the purpose of prosecuting those who violated RA 7076 and RA 7492, creation of an inter-agency group that would be responsible for the rehabilitation of the mining site among others and to the private respondent, to return the iron ore extracted or their value, pay ten million pesos to be use solely for the repair and rehabilitation, and in solidum, respondents pay the plaintiffs five hundred thousand each for moral damages and the same amount as exemplary damages.
As of this writing, the legal team of Governor Lee are already scouring documents of the mining operation in Bolacawe, anticipating the seventy two (72) hour in which the court should act on the instant case. This additional case for the governor does not augur well for the province of Sorsogon. BicolToday.com)
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