Press Release
September 15, 2016


The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will start investigating today on the reported destructive mining operation and illegal excavation in the Province of Zambales.

Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon committee) said the investigation aims to determine the extent of damage caused to the environment and the persons to be held accountable for the alleged exploitative activities.

The rock and soil from the "treacherous" excavations in Zambales province are allegedly smuggled and used by China to build on rocks to create islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Senate Resolution No. 92, filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson, prompted the investigation to be conducted at the Sen. Geronima T. Pecson Room at 10 am, called for the inquiry on the issue. The hearing will be conducted jointly with the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

"This will be the first investigation of the Blue Ribbon for this Congress. This is a very serious issue. I have been getting reports that a whole mountain has been flattened because of the mining operations. Not only does it harm the environment, but it also poses serious threats to our national security and sovereignty if reports are true that the rocks and soil are being used to reclaim contested islands in the West Philippine Sea," Gordon said.

"In view of the territorial dispute over that area, China could be literally taking over our lands," he added.

Resource persons who confirmed attendance for the hearing were Undersecretary and Engr. Leo Jasareno and Undersecretary Arturo Valdez, both from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Zambales Governor Amor Deloso; Undersecretary Mario Luis Jacinto, of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau; and Esperanza Sajul, of the Environment Management Bureau.

Reports said mining activities practically flattened mountains and damaged a large area of forested highlands in Santa Cruz town in Zambales. Soil and rocks taken from these areas were reportedly "shipped, dumped and used to reclaim almost 3,500 hectares of the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.

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