House panel OKs bills on mining-free zones

By on January 12, 2017


A House of Representatives (Pictured) panel has approved measures declaring Davao City and Biliran province as mining-free zones. (Photo: House of Representatives/ Facebook)
A House of Representatives (Pictured) panel has approved measures declaring Davao City and Biliran province as mining-free zones. (Photo: House of Representatives/ Facebook)

MANILA –A  House of Representatives panel has approved measures declaring Davao City and Biliran province as mining-free zones.

The House committee on natural resources, chaired by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, passed House Bill Nos. 3166 and 872, declaring Davao City and Biliran Province, respectively, as mining-free zones to protect their local residents and the environment from the adverse effects of mining.

Davao City Rep. Alberto Ungab, who authored HB 3166, said that rapid deforestation caused by logging, kaingin (slash and burn), and mining operations is still prevalent despite the laws and directives of both the national and local government agencies.

“If opened to mining operations, a world-class city like Davao City would unnecessarily be endangered by deforestation and the risks attributed to mining since the place is traversed by Davao River from the highlands to the lowlands,” Ungab said.

Ungab further said the fresh waters of Davao City, considered as one of the best waters in the world, must be protected from any form of pollution or degradation, to include the surroundings and environs of its sources underneath the ground or above the ground.

For his part, BIliran Rep. Rogelio Espina, author of HB 872, stressed that mining will be destructive to Biliran, citing the province’s small land area which is composed of two volcanic islands.

Espina said mining has adverse effects both on humans and the environment, saying that “aside from adding toxic chemicals to the ore, it strips off large areas of top soil of all flora and fauna.”

Espina further cited a study conducted by Greenpeace International which states that “mining impacts include destruction of landscapes, forests and wildlife habitats at the site of the mine when trees, plants and topsoil are cleared from the mining area.”