DENR Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez Visits Barangay Bato-Bato, Narra, Palawan

In a series of assessmentof mining operations and/or its affected communities, Sec. Lopez visited Brgy. Bato-Bato, Narra, Palawanon 06 January 2017.  Brgy. Bato-Bato is host to Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation (CMDC) – Toronto Nickel Mining Project.  This was the second time Sec. Lopez visited an area in Palawan where there is an active mining operation. In both instances, no less than RD Roland A. De Jesus of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau – MIMAROPA Region is on top of the preparations and coordination with concerned entities to make the visits successful.

Sec. Lopez was accompanied by Former MGB Director and now DENR Consultant, Engr. Leo L. Jasareno on-board a chopper.  Prior to landing, the helicopter hover over the whole mine site to see the extent of CMDC’s Narra - Operations. Thence, the chopper landed in Stockyard B of CMDC at 0930H where they were warmly welcomed by RD De Jesus, officials of the LGUs (provincial, municipal and barangay) led by Punong Barangay Ernesto Ferrer of Barangay Bato-Bato, local military and police personnel and CMDC officials and employees, with the sounds of the San Isidro Elementary School Drum and Lyre Band in the background.  

Sec. Lopez and her entouragemotored to the San Isidro Covered Court wherein banner-waving students, residents, CMDC employees, barangay officials and other stakeholders lined-upon the sides of the streets warmly welcoming them. Upon reaching the covered court, other DENR officials arrived,led by USEC Phillip Camara, DENR-MIMAROPA Regional Director CarlitoTuballa, PENRO Juan C. Dela Cruz, CENROs of Palawan and other DENR employees.

In the ensuing dialogue, Sec. Lopez pointed out that she came to the area to listen to their grievances/problems regarding CMDC’s operation. Among the issues that were brought up by the stakeholders, most of whom were farmers, included the following: farmlands allegedly affected by laterite spillage; insufficient capacity of siltation ponds; dust generation affecting fruit bearing trees; discoloration of Pinagduguan River in 2012, employment opportunities and company’s commitments that are not being fulfilled, among others.After hearing their gripes, Sec. Lopez consulted the DENR officials and the company representatives to come up with an action plan that will address the concerns of the stakeholders and to find a win-win solution. 

Sec. Lopez introduced Undersecretary Phillip Camara and appointed him as Team Leader, to be assisted by RD De Jesus, in the newly created Task Force Bato-Bato. The team was composed mostly of those who stood-up to air their grievances, Forester Leonard Caluya to represent the PENRO and the company representatives.  The team was tasked to develop a master plan that will guide them in resolving the issues and concerns raised. Afterwards, members of Task ForceBato-bato took an oathbefore Sec. Lopez.

Also included in the program was the turn-over of a farm tractor, including other company approved SDMP projects (post-harvest facilities) to Calategas Farmers Marketing, Inc. represented by its Chairman, Mr. Danny Cabiguen and other officers. 

Immediately, after the departure of Sec. Lopez for another activity in Brooke’s Point, USEC Camara convened Task Force Bato-Bato to discuss and formulate the action plan as instructed by the Secretary.

Landing site of the coppers located in Stockyard B of CMDC

Picture of the welcoming party

Arrival of Secretary’s chopper

Secretary Lopez welcomed by RD Roland A. De Jesus and company officials

Other pictures of Secretary Lopez with Engr. Jasareno being welcomed

Pictures of Secretary’s arrival in the covered court of San Isidro

Pictures of the dialogue of Secretary Lopez with the farmers

Secretary Lopez in a huddle with company officials

Introduction of Task Force Bato-Bato Members led by USEC Phillip Camara

Cheers for the members of the Task Force

Secretary Lopez leading the oath of commitment

Turn-over of farm implements to Calategas Farmers Marketing, Inc.