The majority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) members approved Monday the amendments to the environment code of South Cotabato province, particularly the provision on the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining in Tampakan town.
Voting for the ban’s lifting were SP board members Glezel Trabado, who acted as presiding officer in the absence of Vice Governor Vicente de Jesus, Larry de Pedro VI, chairman of the Environment Committee, Dardanilo Dar, Noel Escobillo, Antonio Fungan, Eamon Gabriel Mati, and Henry Ladot.
Also backing the move were Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Edgar Sambong, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)Federation president Alaisa Marie Fale, Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president Rolando Malabuyoc, and Philippine Councilors League (PCL) South Cotabato Chapter president Grace Achura.
Board Member Ester Marin Catorce, who opposed the amendment and was designated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as acting governor, was absent during Monday’s regular session.
“None of them objected, as acting governor by the rule of succession I cannot attend the session. Governor Tamayo is out of the country while Vice Governor Vicente De Jesus, who underwent an operation, was not present,” Catorce said.
Catorce said she asked a colleague to defer the deliberation of the amendment because of the many issues that still need discussion. Her request, she said, was not granted.
SP members Ellen Grace Subere-Albios and Jinky Avance-Samodal, who also both opposed the open-pit mining operation, were also absent in the regular session.
Ordinance 04, Series of 2010, entitled “An Ordinance Providing for the Environment Code of the Province of South Cotabato,” was passed on June 9, 2010.
In 2015, SP filed a resolution affirming the open-pit mining ban in the province.
Pro-mining groups earlier said the open-pit mining ban in South Cotabato hampered the development of the copper and gold mine project in Tampakan, touted as the largest in Southeast Asia.
Anti-mining groups, however, said the project endangered not only the environment but also the lives of residents.
Sagittarius Mines Inc. has been pursuing the Tampakan gold project for years.
Source: Philippines News Agency