MANILA—A militant group accused the government on Friday of using the reconstruction of areas devastated by Supertyphoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ as a pretext for the approval of large-scale black sand mining operations.
In a press statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) alleged that the Aquino government would exploit the situation in disaster-stricken areas “to justify the grand entry of magnetite mining companies in Samar and Leyte provinces.”
The group was reacting to a statement of Environment Secretary Ramon Paje that his department had completed the marking of “no-build zones” on the coasts of Eastern Visayas to construct “green walls” of mangroves and beach forest to protect against approaching storms.
It said the government’s real aim was to clear those areas for large-scale operations to mine black sand, a magnetic black-gray mineral with various industrial uses, such as in the manufacture of steel.
“The government will deny this to high heaven. But the truth will always find a way to state the real score,” said Salvador France, vice chair of Pamalakaya.
“There are 107 black sand mining projects all over Region III awaiting the seal of approval of Malacañang and the Aquino administration will most likely capitalize on the no-build zone policy to accommodate magnetite mining in the very near future,” France said.
Paje earlier said the marking of the 40-meter no-build zones would pave the way for the planting of mangroves and beach forests to serve as a barriers against storms.
“We are being taken on another roller coaster ride by the Aquino administration and salespersons of the black sand republic in Malacañang. The coastal areas of Eastern Visayas are primed for destructive magnetite mining and not for rehabilitation,” France said.
Pamalakaya said the culprit behind the fish kills in Lake Bito still had pending applications for black sand mining in the coastal municipalities of Tanauan, Tolosa, Julita and Dulag covering 5,390 hectares.