THE DESTRUCTION OF HOMONHON ISLAND


After the natural disaster Yolanda, an unnatural disaster has not been noticed by majority of the Filipino people and it had been operating in Homonhon Island, Guiuan Town, Eastern Samar for about eight (8) years. Many parts of the country experienced the same environmental disaster like those happening in Cagayan, Ilocos, Zambales and other unnoticeable areas. But Homonhon Island’s ruins of its coastlines and mountains caught my attention because its coastal area is historical.

The Portuguese Navigator Ferdinand Magellan visited the beautiful island of Homonhon in 1521. Evidence of this landing had been marked with monuments, markers or preserved for posterity by the local government and the residents of the island.

What did the miners do that damaged the shorelines of Homonhon Island? For the past eight (8) years the miners burrowed black sand on the coastal area and load them to Chinese ships docked not far away from the shores. The black sand produces magnetite that produces steel. That sustains China’s telecom industries, and medical and audio equipment industries.

How did it happen? Reports from various newspapers revealed that there could be two reasons. While it is legal for Filipinos to mine under Production and Sharing Agreements with the government, what happened in Homonhon was – the mining company “elbowed its way by buying the local miner”.

So, analysts believed that there were participation from local government officials and government agencies that made the Chinese company’s mining operation on Homonhon went on and on even if “the local islanders pleaded” that the Zone had been awarded to them for pasteuring. This is not the only rape of Homonhon’s natural resources that had been happening. The continued excavations for mining purposes had created irreparable damage to the health of the island’s land resources. The islanders seemed helpless because they are fighting a giant institution that had been against their welfare all along.

There were reports of harassment of islanders who opposed the continued mining of black sand on Homonhon Island.
Will the rape of our natural resources continue? Is there no one who can strongly oppose this rape? Homonhon Island is not just the only case but there are others sharing this sorrowful state. These are Cagayan, Ilocos, Zambales, Pangasinan, and Agusan del Sur, among others.

What are the possible catastrophic effect of all these black sand mining, ferronickel mining and others? These will cause the following: ruins of seashores, displacement and death of corals, denudation of forest, muddy rivers and other waterways, leveling of mountains that could influence flush floods, erosion of coastal areas and beaches specially of Homonhon Island, disturb the water table, and drying up of local wells which are very important in the life of humans, farmers and agriculture, among others.

Are you going to let this pass by without doing an act? If you will not, who will? The earth is not only for us – the present generation, but it is also for those generations that will follow us. Let us be kind to them by protecting the only planet that gave us life. Let us protect Homonhon Island, Cagayan, Ilocos, Zambales, Pangasinan, Eastern Samar, Agusan del Sur, Surigao, Dinagat Island, Palawan and many others from these destructive mining practices.

Updates:

During the first quarter of 2017. Philippines’ Secretary of the DENR – Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Gina Lopez reported a massive destruction of the mountain areas of Surigao, Dinagat Island and other areas in Mindanao and Luzon because of mining operations.  Most of these mining companies violate some provisions of the law. The DENR has left no choice but to issue a temporary  Order to stop mining operations of these mining firms, mostly in Mindanao.

The DENR is giving these mining companies time to present their side before allowing them to continue their mining activities.

Some Watershed Areas in the Philippines, specifically, those located in Mindanao had also been mined which threaten the sources of water in these areas.  Water is life and the destruction of the watershed violates the right of the local residents’ access to clean water.  It affects all facets of life in those areas affected.

Local communities as well as the civil society groups have continuously expressed the utter lack of  mindfulness of miners on environment, people and the future generations. Most mining companies left their sites without rehabilitating them, which is a violation of the agreements contained in the EIA and post mining operations protocol, whatever it is called.

DENR requires  documents to be prepared by proponents of projects that will cover mining exploration, these are the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA Report, and the ECC or Environmental Compliance Certificate, CNC or Certificate of Non-Coverage, among others.  This writer is biased, in fact, he is suspicious,  (if a mining company’s application would result to a CNC) that some form of corruption or “under the table” deals may have been committed by the government agencies, the local government personnel, the Barangay or local leaders, and the applicants themselves.  Anyway,  here’s the link to the documents required by the DENR for projects that poses environmental risks or impacts.

http://www.tripleiconsulting.com/environmental-compliance-certificate/

(Source: Triple 1 Consulting website…thanks Triple i Consulting)

Facing threats of not being confirmed by the powerful Commission on Appointments, Secretary Lopez stressed the importance of protecting the environment not only for today’s generation but for the generations to come.  Lopez had the support of most Filipinos who expressed their views through the social media.  Groups, NGOs, as well as organizations that are pro-environment also support the DENR’s thrusts in protecting the environment for a more sustainable mining industry.

 

Earthniversity supports all positive efforts of the environment department of the Philippines because it is aimed at protecting the local environment.  This effort achieves what Earthniversity believes in – Know Earth, Know Life and Think Globally, Act Locally.

 

If you have any comment please feel free to communicate with   us or leave a comment here. (Henry Libo-on)   Updated 23 February, 2017
References:
MAC: Mines and Communities on 2013-11-18
Source: Statements, Reuters, Business World, Inquirer (2013-11-20)
Homonhon Chromite Loading by cielyg’s on youtube.

Triple i Consulting website – this link: http://www.tripleiconsulting.com/environmental-compliance-certificate/

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11 thoughts on “THE DESTRUCTION OF HOMONHON ISLAND

  1. To all of you who care!
    Please help Homonhon Island and the gentle people that reside there. There are men,women, and children that are having what little they have left after Yolanda being stripped away from them! Their water is being polluted and poisoned by the mining of chromite! How is it acceptable to allow China or any other country to invade these innocent people’s HOME? I was married in Cagusuan and my father in law has just been to Homonhon. We spoke with him on Skype tonight and he reported first hand the crippling effect of Yolanda but he also said that rebuilding and planting of trees and vegetables is almost impossible due to the ongoing mining! I am outraged by what I’ve heard! I am sickened with the knowledge that the people, the sweet smiling people of Homonhon are suffering and it seems that no one cares! Money! Power! Corruption!
    The people I work with and that I am friends with talk about their ideal “Paradise” spot to go for vacation or retirement. They all say practically the same thing: ” I would go to a seclussive island that is plush with rich green vegetation. Beautiful clean beaches of white sand and the ocean would be so clear that you can see 60 feet down. The native people would warmly accept us and treat us like we belonged!”! I would turn to them and say ” I’ve been there! It’s a beautiful place called Homonhon in the Philippines! You’d love it there!”.
    I am sick and frustrated with this violence that has struck Homonhon! I want Action! Immediate and swift action to stop the mining and begin the rebuild of what may be the closest anyone can get to Paradise! Please Anyone who cares! Please help!!!

    • Paul Hurley: You are right. Change have to be done fast and the key players are the islanders themselves and their local government officials. Hope changes will occur.

      • Hello Henry ! Thank you for reply. I’ve sent email copy to my father in law who is in Pampanga now. I’m hoping he has the strength to organize the island residents into action. I’ve attempted to contact tv patrol but no response. Ive also contacted a Filipino legend in hopes that he has influence.

      • Paul Hurley: the biggest problem is the Triumvirate – 1. some Barangay (village) residents who were themselves THE MINERS in cohorts with 2 Mining Companies, probably still active, 2. the Local Government 3. the national government agency … no need to elaborate.

      • Hello again. I’ve just skyped with my in laws again and it seems the corruption is overwhelming! There are,reportedly, Americans in Guiuan that had offered to build a hospital there but that the local government attempted to get money from the offer!! How unbelievably despicable that is! Thank God they are building a hospital in the airport there anyway! How can help get to the people that really need it if the leaders refuse to lead in the best interest of the people!!!

  2. In the beginning the background music drowns out the voices of the people being interviewed. I so much wanted to hear what they were saying but that background music defeats the purpose of the interview.

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