DAVAO ORIENTAL’S governor has asked the Environment department to permanently cancel the permit of the mining operators that caused water pollution in Mapagba and Pintatagan Rivers.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, in a Jan. 20 letter addressed to Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, “strongly” recommended the cancellation of the mining permit of Riverbend Consolidated Mining Corporation/Arc Nickel Resources, Inc. and the permanent closure of the mining area located in Banaybanay town. 

The recommendation is based on findings by the provincial government’s technical staff.

“The company’s mitigating measures and preparedness to address unforeseen events is not enough. This blatant disregard of the company to its environmental protection and enhancement commitments had caused immeasurable environmental damages, should be given corrective measures,” the governor said in the letter. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ regional office, along with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, has an ongoing assessment on possible penalties, operational adjustments as well as the environmental damage of the siltation.

The rivers have turned into an orange color from nickel laterite following heavy downpour on Jan. 13. 

Meanwhile, Davao-based environmental group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) called on the Davao Oriental provincial board to issue a resolution supporting the governor’s recommendation. 

“With the letter of Gov. Dayanghirang addressed to DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu, we see a little ray of hope that the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental is taking the side of environmental justice and its people,” IDIS said in a statement last week.

The joint companies have yet to issue a statement on the incident. Operations have been suspended since Jan. 17 following a cease order from authorities.

The Davao Oriental provincial government has confirmed that the operators have been conducting massive desilting operations at the Mapagba River. They also distributed food packs to affected communities downstream. — Maya M. Padillo