Scourge of the land

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Anti-black sand mining demonstration.

Anti-black sand mining demonstration.

It is bad enough that China had grabbed the Panganiban Reef in 1994 and the Panatag Shoal in 2012. It is bad enough that China is building artificial islands in the Spratly Archipelago to be used as naval and air bases. But for China to loot the Philippines of her natural resources, it has to stop!

And what is very sad is that corrupt government officials are in cahoots with these looters. Where is President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s “matuwid na daan” (straight path) mantra? Where is his “Walang korap, walang mahirap” (No corruption, no poverty) slogan that he’s been trumpeting these past four years? And when would the raping of our Inang Bayan (Motherland) ever stop?

Chinese cargo ships loading black sand in Gonzaga, Cagayan.

Chinese cargo ships loading black sand in Gonzaga, Cagayan.

These are the questions that President Aquino should – nay, must! – address. And if he is truly the “honest and incorruptible” leader that his spin meisters have been telling his “boss,” the people, then he should put a stop to this wholesale plunder right away! But by the looks of it, the criminal pillaging of our patrimony goes on. Hundreds of Chinese ships loaded with ores, such as black sand (magnetite), leave Philippine ports — from Cagayan in the north to Zamboanga in the south – destined for China.

Out of the rubbish of this massive destruction of the ecological system of our land arose a mysterious character – Cedric Lee — who controls the black sand business in the Philippines through his Colossal Mining Corporation, which is the biggest iron and black sand concessionaire in the Philippines.

Last April, a Taguig City court issued arrest warrants for “serious illegal detention,” a non-bailable case, against five persons charged with the mauling of actor-TV host Vhong Navarro inside a condominium in Bonifacio Global City last January. According to Navarro, a certain “Cedric Lee” led his attackers.

Lee’s involvement in the mauling of Navarro caught the attention of the media. It didn’t take too long before the media unearthed an old story about Lee’s propensity for violence. An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) dated January 18, 2008, reported that Lee and his cohorts — identified as Tyrone Ong, Loiue Kau, Chito Ho and Dominquie Sytini — beat up ex-athlete David Bunevacz, Lee’s former business partner, and seized the latter’s Porsche, expensive watch and cellular phone.

Who is Cedric Lee?

Cedric Lee

Cedric Lee

The PDI article also reported: “In his LinkedIn, an exclusive social networking site for professionals, Lee is a contractor by occupation.

“He is the Board Chairman and Company President of Izumo Contractors, which built the Davao del Sur Cultural Sports Business Center, the Maasin City Integrated Market Complex.

“According to his LinkedIn profile, the Izumo Contractors has its office in Robinsons Galleria Corporate Center.

“Lee also posted several of his architectural projects in the social networking site Pinterest.

“The alleged Navarro-Bunevacz attacker is also the managing director of Colossal Mining Corporation, the biggest iron and sand concessionaire in the Philippines, which in 2004 had tenements totaling 40,000 hectares.

“Lee is also the chairman and president of Phil-Asia Dredging and Reclamation Corporation, which is on a two-year contract to conduct dredging operations on the Cagayan River.

“Another of Lee’s companies, Waste Management Incorporated, is in contract with the provincial government of Cebu that would manage the province’s landfill.

Lee has a Bachelor’s degree on Business Management from the De La Salle University, his profile said.”

Illegal mining

Illegal black sand mining in Lingayen.

Illegal black sand mining in Lingayen.

From that time on, Lee has remained on the media’s radar screen. His firm, Colossal Mining Corporation has been involved in black sand mining in Cagayan and other coastal areas in the country. Indeed, Lee has become the “poster boy” of the black sand mining industry in the country.

But while Lee may seem to be a legitimate black sand concessionaire, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) indicated that illegal black sand mining is prevalent all over the country.

In an article, “Small scale mining: Immeasurable damage,” written by Roberto R. Romulo that appeared in The Philippine Star on October 18, 2013, he said: “There are an estimated 500,000 small-scale miners operating in more than 30 provinces, and some in the industry have begun to question the increasingly aggressive involvement of Chinese firms in these activities. The entry of questionable Chinese mining investors into the country has posed significant challenges to the Philippines. Substantial evidence points to unaccountability, misconduct, and corruption in many Chinese mining deals – all of which have created an unfair playing field. Philippine authorities have in fact arrested more than 100 Chinese nationals since January 2012 for their involvement in illegal mining operations across the Philippines.

Illegal black sand miners in detention.

Illegal black sand miners in detention.

“Most Chinese mining firms operate under the cover of domestic small-scale miners to bypass Philippine mining laws and protocols, as well as to avoid the large capital requirements, fees, and taxes associated with large-scale mining. The Chinese firms circumvent the enormous time and expense of complying with large-scale mining requirements by co-opting a Philippine proxy and purchasing small-scale mining permits or special ore extraction permits for a minimal fee.

“The sheer amount of minerals exported from the Philippines to China is further evidence of this exploitation and abuse. The Philippines is already the largest provider of nickel ore imported into China, and the leading provider of gold imported into Hong Kong. Few experts believe the volume of gold and nickel ore going into these territories could be achieved by legitimate mining operations.”

Corruption

Rape of the land

Rape of the land

The collusion between local government officials and the illegal black sand miners has reached an epidemic proportion where national agencies such as the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) have been rendered inutile. However, that doesn’t mean that this massive destruction of the Philippines’ environment and pillaging of her natural resources cannot be stopped. It can be stopped… by the national government.

But if the national government is paralyzed from doing anything to stop this carnage by foreigners, how then can the national government protect our sovereignty? It seems that it is not an overt external threat that poses a danger to our existence; it is the decaying of our morale integrity that is slowly eroding our land and culture.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether it’s legitimate businessmen like Cedric Lee or illegal Chinese miners who are looting our Inang Bayan of her natural wealth, they’re both scourge of the land.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


One Response. Have your say.

  1. Gabriel says:

    There are a lot of illegal migrants in our country. The Government must clean it self from these dirty “rich boys” who are getting all the natural resources of the nation.

    Simply, our rain and natural calamities are actually created by our Phil.Government Officials who allows and even gain some percentages to the income generated by these lawless gangs. Let us support those who are for the people by telling the media of these bad guys and bad mining contractors.

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