Marine life dwindling in Cebu town supplying Manila Bay's white sand

Marine life in the Cebu town which supplied Manila Bay's artificial white sand is dwindling, says the Cebu provincial government. 

Sugbo News, the official news site of Cebu's Capitol Public Information Office reported on Friday, September 18 that, according to initial inspections, corals within 500 meters of seawater in Barangay Pugalo, Alcoy, Cebu have been killed because of heavy siltation from the dolomite mines. 

This was based on findings from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) after monitoring the quarrying site run by Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC).

"PENRO found that particles from the crushed dolomite fall to the sea when transported to the bulk carrier vessels through a conveyor belt," the article read. 

The fallen particles are reportedly "causing the seabeds to turn white."

Dolomite only for export

The 25-year Mineral Production Service Agreement between DMC and the government permitted the latter’s mining activities only for the purpose of exporting dolomite to Japan and Korea for glass manufacturing. This was covered by a work program which ensured that quarrying operations do not encroach on Alcoy’s protected forests and wildlife.

However, Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC), which processes and sells the extracted dolomite from DMC, began supplying dolomite as a substitute for sand and gravel locally. This includes the artificial white sand dumped near the seawall of the Manila Baywalk in Roxas Boulevard for its controversial beautification project. 

By entertaining demands from within the country, DMC faces the possibility of going over the estimated volume it was allowed to extract, posing a great threat to the environment.

The Cebu Provincial Government has already issued a cease and desist order to DMC and PMSC for "extracting, processing, selling, and transporting dolomite, associated mineral deposits, and other quarry resources" intended to cater to the local demand of dolomite.

With the recent report from PENRO, Sugbo News said that Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia asked the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to look further into the situation. 

Call for accountability

Fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA said in a press statement that the dolomite firm should be held accountable for environmental damage in Cebu.

"This is an outright abandonment of the DENR's supposed mandate of environmental protection. The Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) between the government and the mining firm involved on quarrying must be revoked, and hold these environmental plunderers accountable," the group said.

"The damage caused by the dolomite extraction could be bigger, far more reaching, and strategically fatal to the livelihood of the local fishers and to the fishing environment directly link to the depleted marine life," the NGO's spokesperson Fernando Hicap said. "It will take one year for a millimeter of corals to go back to its sound condition and it will take 250 years for a meter of coral to mature." – Rappler.com/with reports from Ryan Macasero