Sunday, April 2, 2023

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FIRING LINE: Save Sibuyan from illegal mining

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Okada Manila
Hotel Okura Manila
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Novotel Manila
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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Immediate government action is wanted in Romblon to stop Altai Philippines Mining Company’s alleged illegal activities that have forced residents to barricade Sibuyan Island in protest.

Local environmentalist groups led by the Sibuyanons Against Mining claim that the mining firm has no permit to show yet it is on a deadset mission to extract and export 50,000 metric tons of nickel ore to Hong Kong.

Altai is waving its Mineral Ore Export Permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to justify its activities to the local government of San Fernando, Romblon. Still, environmentalist Rodne Galicha disputes the document, saying it had been “tampered” with.

What has been happening to our government systems designed to protect the interests of the country and its people? And why is this happening under your administration, Mr. Marcos?

Wasn’t it you who declared not to surrender an inch of our territory? What good is that promise of inches in geography if you allow our mineral resources to be shipped in tons into Chinese territory?

*         *         *

No official word has been out, but tongues are wagging that a well-known newspaper columnist is being shut down for accusing Martin Araneta, brother of the First Lady, of being behind the smuggling and hoarding of onions.

That’s a brutal counterstrike I wouldn’t wish on any columnist, not even one as tough on the receiving end as Mon Tulfo.

Now, back to the story on Mr. Araneta… anyone?

*         *         *

And just like that, silence has overtaken the House and the Senate. It’s like last week never happened when members of both chambers of Congress took turns in taking a good swipe at smugglers and their friendlies in the Bureau of Customs.

I’m not saying legislators who put out the names of alleged smugglers have been disarmed by, for example, a photograph of one of the smugglers they exposed in a cheeky smile with the President making the rounds of social media.

Perhaps, they have no comment, unlike netizens who will not be muted.

*         *         *

In a speech at the promotion ceremony for officers of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), President Junior exhorted them to defend not only the country’s territories but the country’s people.

A few days after that, PCG personnel rescued seven Chinese crew members of a vessel floating aimlessly off Suluan Island, a part of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

At first, I thought, “What’s with the PCG rescuing these Chinese? What was it about Junior’s message they didn’t get?”

But as it turns out, the seven may be spies, and their “fishing vessel” is designed as a tanker for refueling or even smuggling.

 Good job, PCG!

*         *         *

Senator Jinggoy Estrada has never pulled his punches against rape and sexual abuse of women and minors. And so, I support him on that as he seeks the establishment of a database of sex offenders.

His proposed measure, the National Sex Offender Registry Act, will aid authorities in keeping track of convicted sex offenders once they return to society and allow communities access to their criminal background to ensure no repeat of such a crime wherever they end up living.

Request lang po, Sen. Jinggoy. Once that’s enacted into law, paki sunod po yung Registry of Corrupt Officials so that voters will never forget or fall into the campaign trap of writing their names on the ballot ever again.

*         *         *

SHORTBURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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