Sunday, July 31, 2016

How they flattened two mountains in Zambales for Scarborough Shoal artificial island

China flattened Zambales mountain for Scarborough Shoal reclamation - governor
By: Erwin Tulfo,| InterAksyon

Chinese ships are seen off Masinloc, Zambales, in file photo. VERA FILES

If the allegations of the new governor of Zambales are correct, the Philippines was dealt a double whammy in China's reclamation spree in Scarborough Shoal.

As it happens, it appears the soil and rocks dumped by China on a wide area Bajo de Masinloc were gouged out from Zambales itself, in a mad, two-year operation that involved seven Chinese firms using nickel mining as cover.

The allegations were made by Gov. Amor Deloso, who said his predecessor, Hermogenes Ebdane, had allegedly allowed the massive excavations for over two years, practically "flattening a mountain" and damaging a wide area of Sta. Cruz's forested highlands. Worse, the soil and rocks taken from the mainland and dumped on the shoal did massive, unspeakable damage to the marine environment.

The carved-out sides of the mountains of Sta. Cruz are visible from afar - remnants of a mad endeavor to get earthern material for China to fill up parts of Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc), which Beijing has de facto occupied since an April 2012 standoff when its ships drove away Filipino boats from traditional rich fishing grounds.

Governor Deloso gave details of the mad frenzy: "Because Scarborough is purely corals, because they need materials for reclamation, kailangan nila ang pinakamalapit na supply ng materials. For two years, walang ginawa dito sa Zambales kundi maghakot ng malalaking bato [they did nothing here but haul away huge rocks] ...

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, nearly 3,000 hectares of Bajo de Masinloc have been dumped with earth and rocks by China's reclamation brigades.

No wonder, Deloso said, that the two mountains in the area are now nearly flat. "At that time, our impression was they were mining nickel. Because there were 450 trucks [traveling night and day from the site]. The roads were damaged eventually."

He conceded that taking on those behind the Chinese miners and excavators was no easy task: "Mahirap lumaban sa mga higante eh, pero wala akong choice. This involves the welfare of the people of my province. Tutal nasa Bayang Magiliw yan ... Ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo. Hindi ba?"

Deloso said he got information that seven Chinese companies had gouged out the area, using nickel mining as pretext.

These people practically "bought the mountains" of Sta. Cruz, he added. Roads and farms were damaged. "They destroyed the total environment of Sta. Cruz....in the six years of your former friend the former governor..."

Residents admit they are affected adversely by the damage to their mountains and forests, but  said many of them have found jobs in the mines.

At press time, News5 was still trying to get Ebdane's side.

The new  chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Gina Lopez, was aghast at what happened.

She is forming a task force to investigate what happened.

'It's horrible. I'll find out whoever gave the permit why they are getting the soil. If there are DENR officials involved they'll be made accountable.."

The local government has stopped all mining activities in the province.

Remember this news exactly a year ago? 'Fishermen found these oil containment booms with Chinese markings off Cabangan town in Zambales province, prompting local government officials to seek an investigation into the origin of the objects', says the article. That's the last we heard about it. 

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Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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