Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has reiterated her longstanding call to prohibit black sand mining operations in the country due to its continuing negative impact to the environment, especially during natural disasters like the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses in Cagayan and Isabela recently.
De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, urged her colleagues to help push for the swift passage of her proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1075, which seeks to impose stiff fines against individuals engaging in black sand mining in the coastal areas of the country.
“Environmental groups that conducted studies where black sand mining activities are common have long warned us that these mining operations have contributed greatly to severe flooding, as well as to the depletion of fishery resources and erosion of land,” she said.
“As I have said before, these dangers necessitate the passage of a law that completely stops black sand mining in the Philippines and imposes stiff penalties against offenders,” she added.
Based on media reports, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for giving permit to black sand mining operations in exchange for big profit.
The group said black sand mining and illegal logging were among the factors that contributed to the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela which were badly hit by Typhoon Ulysses.
Under De Lima’s SB No. 1075, it is prohibited for any person, natural or juridical, to engage in black sand or magnetite mining in the coastal areas of the country, and likewise unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to appropriate any and all dredge materials collected in sites where black sand or magnetites exist.
SB No. 1075 likewise seeks to impose stiff penalties to include imprisonment of not less than six years but not more than 12 years, and fine of not less than PhP1 million but not more than PhP10 million, to proven offenders. An alien offender shall be deported immediately after the service of sentence and payment of fine.
The lady Senator from Bicol said it is high time for her colleagues to support her measure, saying that “the government is duty-bound to protect the environment and at the same time ensure the wellbeing of the people.”
“Wala nang mas hahalaga pa sa buhay at kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan; ang protektahan sila ang pangunahing tungkulin ng gobyerno. May sakuna man o wala, dapat itigil ang mga polisiyang naglalagay sa peligro sa mga Pilipino,” stressed De Lima.
During her stint as justice secretary, it may be recalled that De Lima created a task force led by the National Bureau of Investigation to lead a crackdown against several illegal black sand mining operators in Cagayan and Ilocos Sur. The move led to the filing of charges against several individuals. SENATE.GOV.PH