by: NLM                                                                        June 29, 2017


On June 23, 2017, Ms. Socorro P. Hernandez – OIC, Office of the MGB IV (CALABARZON) Regional Directortogether with three (3) other MGB IV personnel conducted a dialogue/consultative meeting at the Barangay Sta. Lucia Covered Court relative to the issues and concerns on the sand and gravel extraction/desilting and rehabilitation project of Maharlika Sam Aggregates Corporation (MSAC) along Lapad River situated within areas covered by Brgy. Calumpang, Malabo Kalantukan and Bayate in Liliw, Laguna.

The dialogue was participated in by Hon. Ericson J. Sulibit, Municipal Mayor of Liliw and Vice-Mayor Amelia Malabag Hernandez of Nagcarlan; several members of the Sangguniang Barangay of Silangan Kabubuhayan, Sta. Lucia, Manaol, Calumpang, Lagulo and Wakat of Nagcarlan; Sanguniang Barangay of Cabuyew, Mojon, Malabo-Kalantukan, Calumpang, and Bayate of Liliw; Calumpang Association of Irrigators; Kababaihan Association; farmers; and other concerned citizens of subject municipalities.

The above-said consultative meeting was the result of the prior communication made by the Vice-Mayor of Nagcarlan and Mayor of Liliw with MSAC representative on June 13, 2017.

  BACKROUND

  • On June 10, 2015, the Municipality of Liliw through the Municipal Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) submitted a request to the Provincial ENRO for possible endorsement to the office of the Provincial Governor to dredge and clear the silted waterways of Lapad River in order to mitigate the risk of flooding of certain barangays adjacent to the water body;
  • On June 15, 2015, the Sangguniang Bayan of Liliw, Laguna endorsed to concerned government agencies (Provincial Government of Laguna, NIA, DPWH, DENR) the implementation of the dredging and de-silting of Lapad River as indicated in the MDRRMO Management Plan of 2014;
  • The Municipal Government of Liliw and MSAC agreed on the above-cited project through a Memorandum of Agreement dated July 17, 2016. Accordingly, the project covers parts of Brgy. Calumpang, Kalantukan and Mojon where rehabilitation activities include de-silting, creation of river easement and slope protection, restoration of original watercourse and dry riprapping of slopes at no cost to the Municipal Government.
  • The Sangguniang Barangay of Mojon thru its Resolution dated January 15, 2016 expressed their support to the Lapad River Rehabilitation while the Sangguniang Barangay of Calumpang also expressed their approval in the conditions that no sand, gravel and unconsolidated materials will be disposed of and that MSAC should initially undertake repair/strengthening of the foundation of the makeshift bridge before the commencement of the project; and
  • An Environmental Compliance Certificate was issued by the Environmental Management Bureau Region IV-A on March 28, 2016 in relation to the above-cited project and subsequently MSAC was granted an Industrial Sand and Gravel Permit denominated as ISAG-LAG-011 by the Office of the Governor thru the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) to extract and dispose sand, gravel and other unconsolidated materials. The above-cited permit was issued on June 13, 2016 valid for five years.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CONSULTATIVE MEETING

  • Keynote messages were delivered by the Mayor of Liliw and Vice-Mayor of Nagcarlan relative to the issues and concerns of the desilting and rehabilitation project in the Municipality of Liliw by Maharlika Sam Aggregates Corporation.
  • David Labago, spokesperson of MSAC, presented legalities and scope of the project. According to Mr. Labago, the project was covered by Industrial Sand and Gravel Permit denominated as ISAG-LAG-011 granted by the Provincial Government of Laguna thru the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board for the incidental disposition of dredge materials along the Lapad River which is the subject of the desilting and rehabilitation project. An Environmental Compliance Certificate denominated as ECC-R4A-1603-0045 was also issued to the proponent by the Environmental Management Bureau Region IV (CALABARZON) and is covered by the Memorandum of Agreement executed by and between the Municipality of Liliw and Maharlika Sam Aggregates Corp. on July 17, 2016.
  • As per MSAC, the incidental commercial disposition of sand and gravel is to cover the expenses of the desilting and rehabilitation of the project by which according to him, the Municipality of Liliw cannot afford to provide cost on the subject rehabilitation. Further, the desilting and rehabilitation project is to address the flooding concerns of barangays adjacent to the river system.
  • After the presentation, queries on the project were raised by several barangay officials and Vice-Mayor of Nagcarlan.
  • The Vice-Mayor of Nagcarlan queried if the subject company is competent to undertake the subject operation and if MSAC has conducted study on the strength of the river to justify if the mitigating measures being implemented by the company issufficient.According to MSAC, there was a study conducted by the MGB IV with regard to the accumulation of sand, gravel and other unconsolidated materials which affects the river flow.
  • Representative from Calumpang Association of Irrigators also pointed out another concern with regard to the operations conducted near Balanac dam by other quarry operators. Mr. Dondi Sarmiento, OIC – Mine Safety, Environment and Social Development Division of MGB IV, clarified that as per DAO 2010-21 of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, no quarrying is allowed within the one (1)-kilometer radius of nearby dams, bridges and other major structures. Accordingly, the operators situated within the said one (1)- kilometer radius are subsistence miners conducting illegal extraction thereat. Further, he mentioned that such subsistence miners are responsible for the destruction of river embankments including those that were previously rehabilitated by legal ISAG quarry operator, downstream of Balanac River. He also added that Local Government had already conducted several attempts to cease their operation. However, subsistence miners keep coming back to the area.
  • Further, a certain barangay official from Nagcarlan queried on the concern that if MSAC will remove alluvial materials along the river system, the flow of riverine water will only strengthenand that materials from the upstream will replenish the cleared waterways downstream, which MSAC will continuously remove only for profit.
  • With regard to the concerns of some barangays on the flooding in the adjacent barangays of the river and concern relative to the hydrogeology of the Lapad River, Mr. Perlito Angeles of Geosciences Division explained the process on how such geohazards could occur and how the sand, gravel and other unconsolidated materials accumulate on the river system. Mr. Angeles further explained that by study conducted on different areas in CALABARZON, flooding could occur when the unconsolidated materials along the riverside erodes on the river bottom and when the river shallows due to disposition, which affects the river flow to different directions. He further clarified that the operation being conducted by MSAC could not totally eradicate the risk of flooding, however, it could reduce the risk through effective mitigating measures along embankment.
  • A conclusive recommendation was raised by Mr. Dondi Sarmientoannouncing that the operation of MSAC be recommended for temporary suspension to the PMRB until such time that issues on the submission, deliberation and subsequent approval of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP) and the Final River Rehabilitation Plan by the soon to be created MRFC was made,together with the establishment of the Multipartite Monitoring Team, the monitoring arm of the Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committee, is operationalized to oversee the operation of MSAC.
  • He further added that a Social Development and Management Program be established by MSAC wherein identification of projects related to the program be collaborated with the host of neighboring communities for implementation to benefit the residents affected by the operation. That, 1.5% of the projected operating cost be allocated to the said program wherein 75% of which for SDMP; and the remaining 25% for IEC and Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences of MSAC.
  • The crowd upon hearing the announcement of Mr. Sarmiento applauded and were clarified of the certain laws, rules and regulations of the Mining Act.
  • Additional remarks with regard to the operation was delivered by Mrs. Socorro P. Hernandez, OIC-MGB IV acknowledging the efforts of everyone in the conduct of consultative meeting and pointing out several remarks made by technical personnel of this Office. In addition, Mrs. Hernandez clarified that the ISAG Permit was issued by the Provincial Government since the area covered by the subject dredging operation was less than five (5) hectares.