VIRAC, Catanduanes: House Bill No. 670, authored by Rep Cesar V Sarmiento of Catanduanes lone district, was finally approved on third and final reading with a vote of 211-0 that will ban mining in the island province of Catanduanes once the legislative measure is signed into law.
The bill also seeks to declare the island province as a mining-free zone.
Similar bill filed by Rep Rufus Rodriguez was also approved for Cagayan de Oro.
The bill prohibits “extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth” and related mining activities such as exploration, feasibility, development, utilization and processing, and large-scale quarry operations involving cement raw materials, marble, granite, sand and gravel construction aggregates.
It clarified, however, that quarrying of gravel and sand for projects directly undertaken by national government agencies or the affected local government unit is exempted subject to existing mining and environment laws.
The law also provides imprisonment of six to 12 years and a fine of P100,000 to P500,000 to violators.
Sarmiento expressed optimism that the Senate is likewise expected to pass its own version of the bill and the President to sign it into law.
Under the proposed law, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is mandated to promulgate the bill’s implementing rules and regulations.
Sarmiento, meanwhile, disclosed during a press conference that every municipality will be equipped with a lighthouse facility following information from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) representatives Commodore Gilbert Rueras of the Philippine Coast Guard and Lt Fernandez of the Marine Safety Services Command.
From the present eight lighthouses in the province, additional new lighthouses will be constructed in Palumbanes Island, Caramoran, Bagamanoc, and Gigmoto.
Sarmiento also disclosed that he would soon re-file a bill declaring Puraran, the province’s surfing site, as a tourist destination to allow more funding from the national government for the continuous improvement of the place’s tourism facilities.
He also informed members of the local media last week that representatives from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) inspected the different towns in the province for possible construction of fish landing ports in those towns. -- PIA Catanduanes