Sta. Lour­des fam­i­lies won't leave toxic lake

Palawan News - - ENVIRONMENT - By Thessa Oliv­eros Cor­re­spon­dent

Three fam­i­lies dwelling near the toxic lake in a mined- out area in Barangay Sta. Lour­des re­fused to leave and re­lo­cate de­spite a no­tice to va­cate is­sued by the Puerto Princesa City govern­ment. Atty. Ar­nel Pedrosa, city ad­min­is­tra­tor, said Mon­day that the three fam­i­lies are part of the 10 iden­ti­fied that live within the 20- me­ter re­stric­tion zone. “May tat­long ayaw ma­g­a­vail ng re­lo­ca­tion at ayaw tu­mang­gap ng fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance,” he said. Pedrosa told mem­bers of the City Coun­cil that the fam­i­lies re­fused to be re­lo­cated be­cause the lands where their homes stand are ti­tled prop­er­ties. Ear­lier, the city govern­ment said it is con­sid­er­ing Barangay Mangingisda as a pos­si­ble re­lo­ca­tion site for fam­i­lies that will be dis­placed by the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the aban­doned ( Palawan Quick­sil­ver Mines, Inc.) mine site. Mi­la­gros Eo­je­lio, one of the af­fected fam­i­lies, said her al­most five- hectare land was taken away by the Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau ( MGB) of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources ( DENR) that con­structed a perime­ter fence around the toxic lake. Eo­je­lio said the MGB put a perime­ter fence with­out per­mis­sion from her fam­ily. “Nadis­maya ako dahil bigla na lang bi­nakod ng city yung lupa, ang punto ko ang tit­u­ladong lupa ay hindi pwe­deng kuhanin ng gob­y­erno kung walang bayad,” she said. But MGB re­gional di­rec­tor Roland de Je­sus said the perime­ter fence was placed to pro­tect the res­i­dents from wan­der­ing into to the mer­cury- con­tam­i­nated lake. He said their re­lo­ca­tion was sought by the Depart­ment of Health ( DOH) with the help of the city govern­ment for their “safety.” “It’s for their safety — to keep them away from fur­ther con­tam­i­na­tion. The most im­por­tant thing is their health be­cause the mineral there is nat­u­rally- oc­cur­ring. Min­ing or no min­ing, the area is a health hazard that is why we are propos­ing to re­ha­bil­i­tate it and to con­vert it into an eco- tourism park,” De Je­sus said. On land own­er­ship, De Je­sus said un­der Sec­tion 51 of the Wa­ter Code of the Philip­pines or Pres­i­den­tial De­cree No. 1067, all bod­ies of wa­ter have de­lin­eated ease­ment zones. “Sa wa­ter code may nakala­gay doon na ang la­hat ng wa­ter bod­ies da­pat may ease­ment zone. Para sa kalig­tasan na­man nila ito,” he pointed out. “The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes through­out their en­tire length and within a zone of three me­ters in ur­ban area, 20 me­ters in agri­cul­tural ar­eas and 40 me­ters in for­est ar­eas, along their mar­gins, are sub­ject to the ease­ment of pub­lic use in the in­ter­est of recre­ation, nav­i­ga­tion, flotage, fish­ing, and sal­vage, he said cit­ing the pro­vi­sion of the law.

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