BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
Several youth organizations, student councils, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and concerned groups and sectors have raised their growing indignation on the planned mining of black sand under the guise of dredging, declogging, and desiltation in the resource-rich coastlines of Negros.
In a statement, the groups said, “We join Negrosanon fisherfolk and communities that will be highly affected by this environmentally-destructive project in their opposition to suck out black sand in our coastlines and deplete the bounty marine resource of the province.”
The E.B. Magalona Small Fisherfolk Alliance has stated that as affected coastal communities, they were never informed or consulted on this important matter, the groups said.
EBMASFA, along with other environmental groups, said in a statement that they have called the attention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau before the start of the activity, and they had submitted a complaint regarding the public scoping for the proposed river restoration and coastal rehabilitation project through dredging, the statement said.
Among the signatories are the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Bacolod, Negros Environmental Watch, Green Alert Network, Group of Environmental Socialists, Youth for Climate Hope, University of the Philippines Visayas – Biology Society, Tolentine Star, Negrosanon Young Leaders Institute, La Consolacion College Bacolod-Senior High School Government, University of St. La Salle-Student Government, and The Carrier.
“We refuse to believe that this is for river restoration and coastal rehabilitation alone. With this project entirely funded by the private entities and at no cost to the government, which will also be paid through permits and taxes, this is nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It disguises itself as a solution when it is in fact a destructive, unsustainable, and unjust effort to abuse Negros’ rich resource,” the groups stressed.
They urged the local government of EB Magalona through Mayor Marvin Malacon, the provincial government of Negros Occidental, and the four national agencies that spearheaded this project, namely, DENR, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highway, and Department of Transportation, to scrap this project funded by private corporations.
They also asked the officials to seek scientific, sustainable, and pro-people solutions to the alleged issue of flooding in the area which they used as a justification for the dredging, or the mining of black sand.
“We demand transparency for the project, the background of the funders and the proponents, what materials will be dredged, and to where they will be shipped. We also invite them to respect and properly dialogue with the community leaders and concerned citizens, and not merely resort to calling us ignorant,” they said.*