Calls raised to protect environment vs mining, cement plant

Buzz has been circulating on the Internet about the potential for destruction of one of the most beautiful places in Bohol, if nothing is done to protect the environment.

Pictures of the plight of the mining in Garcia Hernandez town went viral and for the first time, some netizens realized the impact mining has on the environment.

The pictures shocked the netizens and one particular netizen stood up, virtually, to air his sentiments, albeit online.

What makes the situation doubly interesting is that aside from the limestone mining, a foreign firm is reportedly eyeing to build a cement factory allegedly near prime agricultural lots.

WORRIED ON THE ENVIRONMENT: People have raised alarm over the state of Bohol’s environment and the role of the ecosystem in the tourism posture of the province. This comes as photographs of the effects of mining went viral recently. The photos show the ill effects of mining in Garcia Hernandez town, one of Bohol’s top sources of limestone. Protests are also brewing on alleged plans of a cement company to put up a cement plant in Garcia Hernandez town near the limestone sources. Photograb from Facebook.

The plan has since met stiff opposition as it may cause a huge impact to the local food production.

An open letter was circulated on social media by a certain Juan Lumacang III concerning the potential ecological disaster.

“How soon can we realize that the present conditions of the province are not pleasing and favorable to the inhabitants–the brave and hospitable Boholanos?” said Lumacang.

Lumacang is pointing out the recent pictures taken from the vicinity of the Bohol Limestone Corporation in Garcia Hernandez town. While not an expert, he said it made question the legality of the mining activities.

The once beautiful mountains of the Garcia Hernandez town, a source of water and the life of the town, are “flattened into an almost airport-size mining field,”

He said the people must not be blinded by the day-long benefits as he questions if what benefits the mining activities have given the town and its people.

While Bohol has been priming to be an eco-tourism destination with sound environmental condition, he said the opposite is happening at least in GarciaHernandez, which “deviates from our common vision for Bohol.”

He urged the people to holler for a safe and sound environment to live in.

The open letter urged DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to look into the sad plight of the mining in Garcia Hernande and “to call a halt on the operation of this firm.”

In his letter, he said it may bring a little good to the people, but the destruction will haunt us down in the future. If the firm will not conform to the laws and regulations, the operations must be stopped.

Raising into the possibilities of disaster, Lumacang said as Bohol recuperates from the huge earthquake of 2013, the province cannot be derailed once again towards the goals for a better future.

The future should be secured and should pursue a sustainable economic benefits at the same time never allowing the children to be robbed of their future.

PROTEST BUILD-UP

Reports have it that protests are greeting the plan of Taiheiyo Cement Philippines to build a cement plan in the limestone-rich town of some two hours away east of Tagbilaran.

Several key figures of the community have raised the concern and alarmed other people about the plan to put up a cement plant.

Since limestone is a crucial component, it would be logical for the cement company to put up a plant nearby that can cut transport expense and production costs.

Reports say some town officials are continuously “tight-lipped” on the matter, especially on the alleged Japan trip purportedly sponsored by the cement firm.

East Canayon barangay chief Favio C. Jamero voiced his opposition over the plans to build a cement factory.

In a letter to Garcia Hernandez Vice Mayor Lito Dajalos, he said he learned about the plan for a cement plan when a colleague raised it during a recent Liga ng mga Barangay meeting.

Canayon said in his letter, “Cement factory is good, but why out it in a primary agricultural land that is regularly producing and is the main source of our staple food. This rice field is so important that it embeds the story of people living in this area. Destroying it is like destroying a particular cultural heritage.”

“Is cement factory more important than food?” he asks.

While industrialization is good and the cement factory might be all well, the village chief might impact the food production as it may be built on primary agricultural land.

Wiping out the farms, for the sake of the cement factory, may be an affront to the national food sufficiency program and improve food production, the village chief said in the letter.

A source said some town officials allegedly went to Japan at the expense of the cement firm.

The trip, purportedly, was intended to educate the local executives on how the cement factory works and operates.

However, the town officials who purportedly went to Japan have been silent about the trip.

It seems the situation is in a stalemate as the local council has yet to be presented with the project proposal as reports say the local Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office is yet to receive a formal letter from the concerned residents.

Meanwhile, Garcia Hernandez Mayor Tita Gallentes has not issued a formal statement on the issue. (Dave S. Albarado)

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