Last week, Eastern Visayas leaders gathered to remember the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda and declare victory in the rebuilding of the region.
Amid this celebration of triumph over the devastation brought by nature, the region continues to be deaf and blind to a massive destruction of two islands in Eastern Samar, one of which is historical.
OpinYon brings focus to the man-made efforts to erase Homonhon Island and Manicani Island from the map of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar.
It is reported that behind this destruction are greedy corporations fronting for Chinese businesses.
This corporate angle is very interesting, overshadowing security and political implications as the Chinese are building islands somewhere in the West Philippines Seas.
It is also deeply disappointing considering the obvious lies by local leaders who squirm as they worm their way out from taking responsibility over this “rape of two islands”.
The highest local official of the province, denies granting any mining permit to any of the four mining concessionaires, exploiting the nickel reserves of Homonhon island for more than a decade now.
But while he claims no permit has been granted to the mining companies, he said the provincial government has sent demand letters to these four mining firms for them to pay taxes that total to P133Million.
The government collects taxes from businesses operating without permits? Aren’t business without permits closed and not allowed to operate? “Ano ba talaga kuya Eddie?” operating with permit or as claimed by the governor, without permit.
The companies involved are Cambayas Mining Corp., Techiron Resources Inc., Emir Mineral Resources Corp., and Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp.
The tax debts date back to 2012 and calculated based on the Ore Transport Permit issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)
Cambayas Mining Corp owes P96.56 million for the period from 2012 to 2016. Techiron Resources Inc. has a tax debt of P22.56 million from 2017 to 2021. Emir Mineral Resources Corp owes P12.15 million for the years 2017 and 2022. Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration & Development Corp has a tax liability of P2.58 million for the year 2013.
The provincial government has issued a warning that if these outstanding tax amounts are not settled, it may lead to the seizure of the mining companies' properties.
This has prompted the question among netizens and concerned citizens.
"If this is the case, why hasn't the provincial government or the national government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, issued a suspension order to halt the ongoing degradation of Homonhon Island?"
In solidarity with the cause, members of the clergy in the province, led by Bishop Crispin Varquez, have voiced their opposition to mining operations on both Homonhon Island and Manicani Island, which is also in Guiuan town and known for its nickel deposits.
AT MANICANI ISLAND
Fueled by their concern for the environment and the local community, they are calling on national officials, including President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to intervene and put a stop to mining operations in the province.
To win local support, residents claim that Nickel Asia Resources has donated P1 million as the championship prize for a local basketball competition. Notably, Nickel Asia Resources, through its subsidiary company Hinatuan Mining Corp, holds mining claims on Manicani Island.
In 2011, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) revoked its mining permit and ore transport permit due to opposition from Church leaders and residents. However, in March of the current year, the DENR allowed the mining company to resume operations on Manicani Island.
With the future of Homonhon Island and its watershed at stake, concerned citizens have taken to social media, calling upon Governor Ben Evardone, Congresswoman Fe Abunda, and Guiuan Mayor Annaliza G. Kwan to intervene and safeguard this precious natural resource.
Here is the post of the SAVE HOMONHON MOVEMENT:
We, the people of the historic island of Homonhon, Guiuan, Eastern Samar appeal to your honors that you, setting aside politics and personal interests, unite for the noble cause of saving our historic island from the environmental and ecological destructions of the decades-long mining operations.
Homonhon is a pride not only of Guiuan but the entire Samar Island. It is our ardent prayer therefore that we may keep and pass on this historical and cultural legacy to our children's children.
Please, save our Homonhon Island.”
Netizens also poured their concerns on their respective Facebook accounts.
“Pinasok na Ng mga Chinese Ang buong karagatan Ng Eastern Samar...nabulag na nman sa pera itong mga politiko ng Eastern Samar....” a certain Florante Cabangunay said.
Levy Toong also posted saying, “BULAG BINGI PIPI ANG MGA NAKAUPO NGAYON SA GOBYERNO LALO MGA CHINESE ANG INVOLVED TAKOTTTTT SA CHINA!”
“MAGISING NA ANG MGA WARAY DAPAT WAG SIRAIN ANG ISLA NG HUMONHON MGA CHINESE PA ANG MAY GAWA ASAN NA ANG MGA WARAY IPAGLABAN NATIN ANG SARILING LUPAIN NGAYON IPAKITA ANG BAGSIK NG MGA WARAY WAG HAYAANG MAKAMKAM NG CHINA ANG LUPAIN NATIN!,” he added.
For his part, a certain Ledio Datu Kulipapa said: “ganda ng .mga ngiti nyo, kung kailan,ubus na hakutin ng mga Chinese , lupa ng HOMONHON.”
On the same thread, Joby Orendain curtly posted: “Greed is indeed insatiable.”
Celestino Saclolo also shared his sentiments: “Sana naman ipatigil na nayang Mina sa LIMASAWA ISLAND (homonhon) bago pa man maubos o mabutas ang bundok.below sea level.”
Meanwhile, Dadmar Amores posted a defeatist message saying, “Goodbye Homonhon. A requiem for Homonhon.Asya an China lugod an ginbubuligan han mga politiko and taga Homonhon an ginkakastigo. Hain na iton mga Kristyano, Hain naiton mga Pilipino? (It is China that local officials help while residents of Homonhon suffer. Where are the Christians, where are the Filipinos?”
Residents also fear the extinction of the white-colored, big parrot-like bird Abucay that is abundant in mainland Samar and Homonhon.
“There is a great possibility that this endangered bird will soon be exterminated also in Homonhon because of habitat loss. The loss of one specie will affect other species including homosapiens,” they said.
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