Friday, June 22, 2012

Palace: DENR, PPA to answer SC writ

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said yesterday proper government agencies would answer the Supreme Court’s writ of kalikasan against Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje, a mining company and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to stop them from cutting trees to build a seaport in Zambales.

“I understand that the seaport is being undertaken by the mining company. I have spoken to Secretary Mon Paje about it. They have been asked to comment by the Supreme Court (SC) so may I… beg your indulgence that we would just rather (let) the government, through the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General), answer the writ of kalikasan in the Supreme Court,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the project was approved by the PPA “so maybe there’s gonna be an issue on the project itself.”

Chinese mining firm LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc. is currently in hot water for allegedly leveling a mountain and chopping down trees to build a seaport for shipping chromite-rich soil from the Philippines to China.

Paje said on Wednesday that the company’s mining license might be canceled if it defies a department notice of violation asking it to “cease and desist from further construction and development.”

Paje said his department, through its Zambales regional office, issued the notice of violation last June 1 because investigation found the company failed to plant trees and secure a permit to cut trees.

The investigation also found that LNL Archipelago failed to secure a permit to operate an air pollution source and control installation, designate an air pollution control officer, submit a self-monitoring and compliance monitoring report, and conduct marine sampling.

The mining company leveled trees beyond the scope of its project and did not post its environmental clearance certificate, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The notice can be lifted if the company rehabilitates the affected areas.

“We will follow procedure. If warranted, we will revoke their license,” Paje said. “We also furnished Congressman Palmones a copy of the notice. We will require another investigation if that will help resolve the issue.”

The SC granted the writ of kalikasan upon the petition of Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones. - By Aurea Calica