Friday, 25 May 2012

Rubbish is back! … top photo was taken during the first week of this month, to show that rubbish is back along the beach of Parang, less than month after an organized cleanup was carried out, spearheaded by the Jose Panganiban (National) High School Alumni Association and involving some officials of baranggays in poblacion. Second and third pictures were taken on Friday, May 25 to show that nothing has improved along the beach. Mayor Ricarte Padilla has branded the cleanup effort as “superficial” and “only for a show” because it is not sustainable, as proven by the scenes on the beach right now. He wants a baranggay-wide effort involving the residents along the shoreline in the clean-up to be carried out after a massive information drive explaining why the beach should stay clean. Baranggay Parang officials … wake up! – MWBuzzpics by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ and HELEN P HERNANDEZ-CORTES

Mine silt pollution … Tons of mine silt that broke away from a collapsed tailings pond at the mining camp of Johson Gold Mining Corporation at Baranggay Bagong-bayan ended up in a shoreline nearby in the afternoon of April 13, 2012. There was no “fish-kill” reported after the incident. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Fishermen at work … Fishermen at Parang beach prepare their boat for another nightlong fishing expedition. In most cases, they venture out of the 15km fishing zone of Jose Panganiban, CamNorte looking for fish. With some more patience, they would land overnight at least 20kg of catch, just enough to pay for their fuel and buy food for the table. They said fish within Mambulao Bay has been depleted due to over-fishing by commercial operators who venture into the municipal fishing zone with illegal fishing gear. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Cut-flower garden project donation

Big boost for cut-flower garden project ...  A former resident of Parang, Jose Panganiban, has donated a garden watering facility to a group of mothers at Gawad Kalinga-Ancop Village at Baranggay Osmena who are growing cut-flowers for livelihood. In picture, Mrs Elvira P Hernandez, 85 (second from left), turns over a roll of a 100 meter long hard-rubber hose and its attachments (pictured below) to Eva Jeres, 27 (left) who is in charge of the project on Wednesday, Mary 23, 2012. The garden implement is worth P3,000. Others in pictures are GK visitor Peter (second from right) and GK worker Lucio- MWBuzzpics by HELEN P HERNANDEZ-CORTES. For the full story, click here.

 A portion of the cut-flower garden being grown by Eva Jeres and her fellow mothers. - MWBuzzpic by HELEN P HERNANDEZ-CORTES

Friday, May 25, 2012
Volume 1, No 14

  5) JPanganiban seeks right to sell abandoned iron ore stockpile



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The Old and the New


MY AUNT recently celebrated her 85th year of being a citizen of this planet earth. I had a small party to celebrate this event.

She is, by all standards, physically healthy, but she is showing signs of that dreaded condition, senile dementia.

And as I watch her cutting her cake, trading jokes with her guests, I could not help but wonder: how long will she will be able to carry on doing these? I had taken care of my dad, my mom, my single aunts, will I add her to my list soon?

My thoughts focus on the phenomenon of aging.

Japan has the most extreme experience with aging.

It’s population of 65 years and older has reached 23.1% in 2011. That means roughly 1 in 4 of its citizens is 65 years and above! That’s translates to 29.5 million Japanese! 

Though the proportion is somewhat less than in Japan, increasing population of those 65 years and over is being experienced by many countries in North America and Europe.  That means in these countries, there is low birth rate (fertility decline )and low mortality (more people surviving to old age).

You see, even if more people survive old age but more babies are being born, the proportion  of older people to the total population would not increase.

Now, if the total population is declining due to low birth rate, then the proportion of the old will increase relative to the total population. That is what is happening to Japan and to the other western countries.

What are the societal consequences of rapid population aging? Because of very low birth rate, Japan has saved much national resources in terms of less expenses on the education of the young, their health care and their overall maintenance and welfare.

Ms Remy Pedrajas (right), who recently celebrated her 85th birthday, with first cousin and best buddy Mrs Elvira Pedrajas Hernandez, 85. Ms Pedrajas and Mrs Hernandez are both aunts of the author, Dra Emma P Valencia.

But these savings have been offset by the huge government outlay to take care of it’s geriatric population: huge expenses on health care because chronic diseases  need long-term expenditures, maintenance of functionality such as walking aids, hospital beds, and even caregiver expenses, most of whom are imported labor, and social security payments.  

And what does the government get out of this, in the long term? Almost nothing, because the geriatric population does not contribute very much to the workforce. Unlike when the government spends for the young, it is protecting its economy by protecting a potential labor force entrant. 

So while Japan may be enjoying prosperity now, it is projected that to maintain its current economic standing, it would need to increase its import of labor, because its local labor force is dwindling. 

That would then be a boon to labor-exporting countries, such as the Philippines.

Let’s then go to our particular aging experience.

Currently, our aging population or those 60 years and older (we have a lower cut-off here than other countries) stands at 6.9%, which means 1 in 14 is a senior citizen.

The Philippines’ aging population has been described as “low and slow” because although we have been experiencing fertility decline over the years (or less children being born), this decline has been slow compared to others, so that while there is a steady increase in the aging population due to low mortality rates, the denominator or the total population has not declined significantly.  
The writer, Dra Valencia (center) with relatives (seated from left) Lucy Pedrajas, Mrs Elvira P Hernandez, Ms Remy Pedrajas, Samuel Hernandez and Helen Hernandez-Cortes (standing). The picture was taken during Ms Remy Pedrajas’ 85th birthday party at Malindang St, La Loma, Quezon City.

At any rate, bottom line is although the increase in our aging  population is  slow, it is still inevitable. And serendipity, because of our particular demographics, we still have time to prepare for its eventuality.

That means putting in place at this early policies and programs that would benefit the elderly, in terms of maintaining their productivity, improving their health, and tapping their skills and experience to benefit the  younger generation, or what I call reverse intergenerational transfer.

This means, instead of mostly the young  helping the old, the old also helps  the young. To be able to sustain this relationship, the old should be healthy, happy and  productive.

In the Philippines, the Filipino elderly is still a moving force of society:  most children of OFWs are being cared of by their grandparents, and studies have shown that while in other countries, senior citizens are mostly recipients of support, the Filipino elderly are three times more likely than their counterparts to be both recipients and providers of support. 

And another thing which makes the situation of the elderly in the Philippines different from the rest is that only 5% of the elderly live alone; majority live with their children, or with a relative.  

So, I raise my glass to all senior citizens: “Salud”!

I look forward to more time to listen to beautiful music, and enjoy the beauty of nature in my senior years.

But I also look forward to more opportunities to helping and sharing my resources with others,  writing, teaching and mentoring, more learning years ahead of me. And if I need to look after my aunt, so be it, I’d gladly do it. 

Whatever life throws at my path, life is to be lived.  

And just like my mother, and God willing, I am not kicking that bucket for the next 30 years. 

(Dr. Emma P Valencia is a physician and a health policy analyst and researcher. She also writes essays and poems when she is not busy with her work on health. She lives with her 85 year old aunt and 7 dogs.)

JPanganiban seeks right to dispose of abandoned iron ore stockpile

THE municipality of Jose Panganiban, CamNorte is seeking the right to dispose of a huge stockpile of iron ore from the defunct Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) at Baranggay Larap.

The mining company shut down sometime in 1975 after operations became unprofitable, leaving thousands metric tons of unprocessed iron ore in the former mining camp

The local government unit's (LGU) move was gleaned from a recent letter to Executive Secretary Paquito N Ochoa Jr, whose office has prepared an Executive Order dealing with revenues from mining operations around the country.

The upcoming EO is entitled "Upgrading Environmental Standards and increasing Government Revenues in Mining", which mandates the creation of a Provincial and/orCity Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) designed to oversee and regulate mining activities in the provinces.

In a letter dated March 23, 2012, Mayor Ricarte R Padilla sought to clarify the provisions of Section 2, para.2.1 of the said order that deal with the disposition of abandoned ores and other valuable metals.

Ricarte said: We have a huge stockpile of iron ores from the defunct Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) and the law is clear that these now are the property of the state, and can be disposed of thru competitive public bidding.

He asked: Who shall then conduct the bidding?

Ricarte has questioned the authority of the provincial government under the proposed law to dispose of the abandoned iron ore by direct negotiations without competitive public bidding.

He said the law was very clear that the stockpile, being property of the state, should be dispose of thru competitive bidding.

Ricarte said the abandoned stockpile is situated in the municipality of Jose Panganiban, thus making proper for the municipal government to undertake the disposition of said valuable metals by way of competitive public bidding and in cooperation with the national government.

The mayor has also asked if the LGU, being the host municipality, entitled to royalties arising from the sale of the abandoned ores.

The royalties shall "compensate for the degradation of the environment and the destruction of infrasture" such as public roads in Jose Panganiban.

Ricarte is seeking the authority for the LGU to sell the stockpile despite a provision in the proposed EO giving provincial governments the job to dispose of abandoned metal ores.

The mayor initiated the move, aware that the provincial government under Governor Edgardo Tallado is "less sympathetic" to his administration.

Late-breaking news by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ - Johson Gold Mining meets JP-LGU demands on mine wastes

A tractor works on the pond wall that collapsed. Notice a portion the Mambulao Bay in the background. Some 200 tons of mine waste from this pond flooded down the mountain slope on Friday, April 13, 2012 and damaged at least 10 houses, water tributaries, a small area of a farmland and a portion of the nearby seashore.- MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ More photos by APH below story.

THE retrieval of spilled silts from the collapsed tailings pond of Johson Gold Mining Corporation operating outside in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte will be completed by the end of this month.

This was assured by Darwyn H Morada, acting resident manager of the gold miner, in a letter submitted to Jose Panganiban Vice-Mayor Ariel M Non dated May 5, 2012.

Non, who headed a panel that investigated the cause of the mine tragedy and to decide on the fate of the company, gave the miner until May 5, 2012 to deal with the issue.

A copy of the letter was emailed to MWBuzz by Jason A Marcelo, company vice-president, from Metro Manila.

Mine wastes of about 200 metric tons from JGMC operations flooded down the hillside slopes of Baranggay Bagong-bayan outside the town’s poblacion on Friday, April 13, 2012, when the wall of one of the five tailings ponds at the mining camp collapsed.

The mining camp is located atop a mountain at Baranggay Bagong-Bayan that overlooks Mambulao Bay.

The flooding that occurred at about 4pm affected about 10 houses along its path and inundated a nearby creek and some food gardens.

The mine wastes had reached the main road, blocking traffic for quite some time.

A big amount of the silt had also reached the bay water which was just a few meters away from the main road. However, no “fish-kill” was observed, according to Bagong-Bayan baranggay officials.

After investigating the incident, Non’s panel had given JGMC until May 5, 2012 to come up with plans on how to prevent further occurrences of similar disaster.

It also ordered the miner to do a cleanup and pay the damages caused by the tails’ flooding.

Earlier, Mayor Ricarte Padilla told MWBuzz in an interview that the miner had to do something about its tailing ponds.
“Otherwise, they (Johson) won’t get the endorsement of the municipal government for a renewal of their mining permits” from the government.”

Recently, the company invited MWBuzz to visit the mining camp to see the progress being carried out on the damaged tailings pond and the efforts to retrieve silt along the path of the mine waste flood, including those that ended up in the nearby shoreline.

In his letter, Morada said that “retrieval operation of spilled silt is expected to be completed by the end of this month (May) while bench-type retaining wall of both Tails Pond ‘E’ and ‘F’ were planned to be completed within two months”.

He said that during these two months, concrete toe construction will be implemented, following boulders rip-rap to the third bench retaining wall.

Morada said the company would also establish a secondary vegetation to avoid further scouring of the ground during wet months.

“Cleaned-up areas especially along the creek and at the back of affected households will be planted with trees while secondary growth vegetation will be adopted to cover barren/exposed areas.”

Morada said the company “will seek endorsement from the host community (Baranggay Bangong-Bayan) for the re-utilization of affected ponds (ponds“E” and “F”.)

He stressed that “Johson will not resume operations until the integrity of these ponds is satisfactorily has been assured”.

It would be recalled that mining operations halted in November 2011 to allow the company to do maintenance works and repairs of its gold processing facilities.

Since then it has not resumed operations and would continue to remain shut until the disaster incident has been appropriately dealt with by the company.

“Mill plant will be de-bugged to avoid speed deterioration of equipment and its auxiliaries,” Morada said.

He explained that during the process, the company will utilize siltation ponds as disposal of plant tails located within the vicinities of “tails pond BC”.

The company has six ponds, of which two have been shutdown.

On the other hand, Morada said the Tacoma pit operation will carry out rehabilitation for its closure and abandonment.

However, the development of underground workings (for both Tacoma and San Mauricio vein system) will proceed to prepare for the complete resumption of operations.

Likewise, the miner has also updated the municipal government on its tailings cleanup efforts:

1. Retrieval and recovery operation of spilled silt continued utilizing both manual tools and heavy equipment.

“As of yesterday, May 06, 2012, computed silt for transfer to stable ground is around 200 MT (4% remaining of the total silt spillage). Total silt recovery is expected to be completed by May 15, 2012.”

2. Embankment repair and rehabilitation of the damaged part and containment of silt within catch basin were established as of May 4, 2012.

Engineered retaining wall design will be implemented as per revised plan

3. Cleanup of silt along “Korokan creek” was completed dated April 17, 2012

4. Restored domestic and local water district lines within vicinity of the damage area

Baranggay Bagong-Bayan Baranggay Chairman Jason J Arriola told MWBuzz that Johson was to pay a total of P14,000 in damages caused to properties affected by the waste flooding.

Johson Gold Mining is the only Filipino-owned gold mine in the country.

For comment:  and

The path of mine wastes that flooded a neighborhood at Baranggay Bangong-bayan on Friday, April 13, 2012 damaging at least 10 houses and inundating a nearby creek, drinking water system and farmlands. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

The muddy path of destruction.  - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

These two culverts under the road at Baranggay Bagong-bayan are overwhelmed and disabled by mine tailings that flooded a part of Baranggay Bagong-bayan.  - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Portion of the pond wall that collapsed. Seen in the background are houses at Baranggay Calero on the other side of Mambulao Bay. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Tons of mine wastes end up on the shore of Mambulao Bay at Baranggay Bagong-bayan, causing massive silt pollution in the water. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

A portion of the pond that collapsed and released about 200MT of mine wastes. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Farmland that has been inundated by a flood of mine tailings.  - Photo courtesy of JGMC

JGMC workers retrieve mine wastes from the creek.  - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Water hose network at Baranggay Bagong-bayan that was knocked by the tailings. It has been restored by the mining company. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

 Water meters still half-buried by mine wastes. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Tractors haul off sacks of mine tailings that have been retrieved by Johson workers from the disaster area. They are to be brought back to the camp for proper disposal. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

A tractor retrieves tons of mine wastes. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Sacks of retrieved mine wastes wait to be hauled off back to the mine camp. Seen on left is one of the t0 houses that have been damaged. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Portion of a damaged farmland. - Photo courtesy of JGMC

Acting mining manager Engr Darwyn Morada points to MWBuzz the locations of the Johson Gold’s mining claims around the municipality of Jose Panganiban. – MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ