SIOCON, Zamboanga del Norte—Officials of three municipalities in the Zamboanga Peninsula have warned President Aquino of an impending economic downturn if a mining company which has been operating in the area for decades is forced to close down its operation next year.
The municipalities of Siocon and Baliguian in Zamboanga del Norte and RT Lim in Zamboanga Sibugay, which are located in the vicinity of the mining operations of TVI Resources Development (Phils.) Inc., an affiliate of a reputable Canadian mining company, are largely dependent on the local taxes, employment, and delivery of basic social services that the company has been providing local residents for almost a decade now.
In their letters of appeal to the President, Mayors Cesar C. Soriano of Siocon, Gani Esmali of Baliguian town and Michael A. Piodena of RT Lim said the imminent adverse impact on their communities can only be avoided if President Aquino will grant a special exemption from Executive Order No. 79 that would allow TVIRD to expand its mining agreement to a property adjacent to its present mining site.
They said a satellite ore deposit existing within trucking distance from the TVIRD’s Canatuan project could potentially add several years of mine life to the operation—if the company would be allowed to access it.
On the other hand, all the 25 barangay (village) captains of Siocon, in their appeal to President Aquino, expressed fears that “unless the special exemption is approved, TVIRD will be forced to shut down its operation and with it, all assistance and support to the community, including the maintenance of infrastructure such as the provincial road, the countless farm-to-market roads, bridges and spillways, livelihood projects, etc.”
Peace and order
In addition, Soriano expressed concern over the possible stoppage in the maintenance of security along the region’s roads, provided by TVIRD. “The security support provided by the company is crucial in maintaining peace and order and security in the area,” he said
TVIRD operates a copper-zinc mining inside the ancestral domain of the indigenous Subanon tribe in Canatuan, Siocon in Zamboanga del Norte and expects to cease operations at the end of its mine life in the middle of next year.
However, it has identified significant copper deposits in the nearby area in Malusok, Baliguian town and applied to operate the site since last year.
The Subanons, who own the land under the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, gave their consent to the application on May 15, 2011.