LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Leaders of a pro-environment group here have denounced the “unfair, vicious, recycled” reportage on the alleged black sand mining four years ago on the shoreline of the Lingayen Gulf declared reserved by the national government for eco-tourism development.
The group, Aroen Mo Ak Sambayanan (AROMAS), one of the province’s staunchest movement for the protection and preservation of the environment led by Sabangan Barangay Kagawad Vicente Oliquino, declared that the news reports about the black sand controversy repeatedly published in the national daily newspapers are “mere black propaganda” aimed at railroading development projects, particularly the 18-hole world-class golf course within the 300-hectare eco-tourism zone in this capital town proclaimed by then Pres. Fidel V. Ramos under Presidential Proclamation No. 1258 “empowering the provincial government to pursue the development” of the area.
Oliquino is one of the eight original complainants in the alleged black sand mining but had long stopped pursuing the case before the Office of the Ombudsman as they realized the case was being used as a political issue by former Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza when he ran for governor against then Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. who won by a landslide.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued later an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the golf course project.
The AROMAS group recently staged a protest-rally in front of the house of one Rolando Rea, a septuagenarian about to go blind whose statements about black sand mining activities in the coastal barangays of Sabangan, Malimpec and Estanza were repeatedly published in two national daily newspapers.
In one of the published news reports, Rea, claimed that a volume of the black sand extracted from the golf course project area was sold for P10-million and shipped to China.
Rea had also demanded that the P10-million be returned to the government.
During the May 2016 gubernatorial contest, Rea was used by former 5th district Rep. Mark Cojuangco who promised him, if he wins, to grant the 5-hectare lot he is claiming as his own within the 300-hectare eco-tourism zone.
Oliquino and his group lambasted Rea for fabricating lies and reaffirmed their Oct. 30, 2014 sworn testimony that “not a single grain of the extracted magnetite mineral was taken out of the area.”
“The hill of black sand remains intact in the area where the extracted minerals were unloaded,” the AROMAS leaders said in a joint affidavit.
The group’s testimonies were corroborated by Environment Management Bureau (EMB) regional director Ma. Victoria Abrera who inspected the area, a provincial government property, where the extracted mound of black sand was stockpiled.
“Based on our observation during the inspection, there was no activity of any earth movement,” Abrera said in a radio interview. “
The stockpile is intact and is now under the care of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB),” she add.
By Dexter A. See