River declogging operation in Zambales legal, says governor

Randy Datu

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River declogging operation in Zambales legal, says governor
Governor Amor Deloso says vessels dredging Naculcol River had permits from the provincial government, yet their crews were arrested by an NBI-headed team from Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Zambales Governor Amor Deloso insisted this week the declogging operations at the mouth of the Naculcol River were legal, after workers were arrested by a composite team of officers from national agencies. 

Ten crew members of dredging vessels engaged in desilting operations were arrested on May 20 for allegedly violating Section 103 (theft of minerals) of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. They were all foreigners.

Deloso said, however, the arrested crew members were helping the local government declog the rivers, collecting sand and lahar deposits (pyroclastic materials) discharged by Mount Pinatubo since its eruption in 1991.

The raid last weekend was conducted by a group of armed personnel from the National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. The officers boarded the a hauling vessel while anchored at Naculcol River, located in the boundaries of San Felipe and San Narciso, Zambales.

The suspects were brought to Manila, and were identified as Chinese nationals Zhining Tang, Liao Nantu, Yichang Lin, Zhibin Xu, Jingwei Chen, Hongming Zhou, Wen Haihu, Yong Wang, and Tang Peilong, and Afrizon Hary, an Indonesian.

Local permits

Deloso presented documents, however, to prove the dredging operations were being conducted with the knowledge of the provincial government.

On May 5, Deloso signed a letter addresssed to Great River Valley Philippines Incorporated, through its manager Allan Jeffrey Adriano, allowing them to proceed with desilting operations.

“This office interposes no objection to your company engaging suction pumps and dredging equipment…and other necessary barges and tugs for operating at the mouth of river in San Felipe for desilting the Sto Tomas river,” the notice read. 

In a letter dated May 15 from the Philippine Ports Authority, the port management office in Northern Luzon also allowed Great River Valley’s request to load 50,000 metric tons of lahar sand aboard MV Hua Heng 167 at the San Felipe Anchorage Area. 

The company was also issued an environmental compliance certificate in December 2011 for the dredging and desilting project in Barangay Manglicmot, San Felipe, Zambales. – Rappler.com

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