By Lyka Manalo
BATANGAS CITY— The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has ordered a Filipino company that owns a foreign dredging ship to stop dredging operations in Lobo, Batangas.
Dondie Sarmiento, officer-in-charge of MGB IV-A Mining Environment and Safety Division said the MV Emerald, which is owned by Seagate Engineering and Building Systems, has no clearance from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) or the Lobo municipal government to dredge the Lobo River.
Sarmiento that when the MGB team went to Lobo last Friday, it found that the Emerald had not yet started dredging operations.
Sarmiento said the bureau never issued an ore transport permit or a soil export permit.
DPWH Batangas 2nd District head, Edwin Abrigonda confirmed that the company did not secure a clearance from their office for any dredging activity.
Abrigonda said DPWH will not allow dredging in Lobo because it might disrupt the construction of a 1.2-kilometer flood control dike there.
He said the dike is 85 percent complete and is expected to be finished by this month.
Maria Paz Luna, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional executive director for Calabarzon, said the local Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate in May 2018 allowing the Emerald to dredge the river.
But Luna clarified that Seagate applied for the ECC online and had to submit all other permits within 60 days.
On July 6, 2018, three ECCs were issued to Seagate for desilting, dredging and remediation of the Lobo River Estuary Foreshore, Lobo River Basin Periphery and in Barangays Olo-olo, Poblacion, Tayuman, Mabilog na Bundok, and Nagtaluntong.
Last week a team from the Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard, Batangas Police, and Lobo Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) inspected the Emerald.
The team found that the ship has nine Chinese crewmen all with passports, visas and seaman books.