BEACH NOURISHMENT.  An excavator spread dolomites along the shoreline of the Manila Bay as part of the “beach nourishment” project on Sept. 6, 2020. Malacañang on Thursday (Sept. 10, 2020) said it respects the decision of the Cebu provincial government ordering two mining companies to stop supplying dolomites for the project due to non-consultation with the local government units. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said it respects the decision of the Cebu provincial government to order two mining companies to stop supplying dolomite sands being used for the “beach nourishment” project at a portion of Manila Bay’s shoreline.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia issued a cease and desist order against two mining companies for transporting dolomites saying the provincial government of Cebu and municipality of Alcoy were “not informed “of the beautification project in Manila Bay.

Roque said the solution to the issue is for the provincial government of Cebu and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to “open their lines of communication”.

“Ang DENR kinakailangan makipag-ugnayan sa lokal pamahalaan ng Cebu (The DENR needs to coordinate with the provincial government of Cebu),” he said in a virtual presser.

According to Roque, it is not the first time that the Cebu provincial government and DENR will be working together since they also did so when Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu was assigned to oversee the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response in Cebu following the spike in the number of infections there.

“Kung meron po silang mga concerns makipag-ugnayan lang kay Secretary Cimatu dahil hindi naman po iba na si Secretary Cimatu. Noong nagkaproblema ang siyudad ng Cebu, si Secretary Cimatu naman ang tumulong. Tingin ko po,buksan lang ang lines ng communication (If they have concerns, they should just coordinate with Secretary Cimatu because he’s not a stranger to them. When Cebu had a problem with Covid-19 cases, Secretary Cimatu was assigned to help them. All they need to do is open their lines of communication),” he said.

He emphasized that the cease and desist order issued by the Cebu provincial government is a “separate issue” from questions over the legality of the Manila Bay beautification project.

“Yung pagtigil po ng supply ay hiwalay po sa issue na ang legality ng ginagawa ng DENR (The decision to suspend the supply is separate from the legality what DENR is doing now),” he said.

Roque also expressed confidence that the DENR will comply with the local government code which requires consultation with local government and public before dolomites are extracted.

“Sa tingin ko po, DENR naman ang project proponent diyan at wala nang iba, lahat po ng probisyon ng batas ay nasunod pero susunod din sila sa sinasabi ng local government code na kinakailangan yung patuloy na pagsupply ng dolomite ay merong pagpayag ng lokal na pamahalaan (I think that the DENR, as the project proponent, was able to follow the provisions of the law but they will also follow the local government code that the continued supply of dolomites must be approved by the local government first),” he said.

On Tuesday, Garcia, through Executive Order (EO) No. 25, ordered the Dolomite Mining Corporation (DMC) and the Philippine Mining Services Corporation to “immediately cease and desist from further extracting, processing, selling and transporting of dolomite, associated mineral deposits, and other quarry resources”.

The EO said both the provincial government of Cebu and the municipality of Alcoy were not informed of the beautification project in Manila and that there was also no public consultation prior to the issuance of ore transport permits (OTP) by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Visayas.

It also said there was no Environmental Impact Study performed on the use of dolomite in the Manila Bay white sand project.

The Manila Bay white sand project was met with criticism from environmental groups and senators who urged to suspend the project for violation of several laws.

Malacañang, however, said the project will prevent soil erosion and flooding. (PNA)