Calls to stop dredging without permit in Philippines

The Chinese dredger run aground in Cagayan. Credit: Gising Cagayan
The Chinese dredger run aground in Cagayan. Credit: Gising Cagayan

Appeals have been made to the Philippine Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to put a stop to dredging works in the northeast province of Cagayan, in the Philippines, due to the lack of permits of Pacific Offshore Exploration.

This was discovered after an inspection conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). A memorandum for the regional director, signed in June 2019, from the MGB showed that the company had an agreement with provincial government of Cagayan but no dredging permit from the DPWH.

The MGB has pressured the DPWH to issue a cease and desist order against Pacific Ocean Exploration, whilst waiting for the company to be issued an approved dredging permit.
The Cagayan provincial board has also called on Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to intervene in the dredging activities, as reports have surfaced of illegal extraction of black sand, or magnetite, an iron ore used in steel production by Pacific Ocean Exploration.

The inspection comes following a crack down on illegal black sand dredging in Cagayan. Earlier in August, a Chinese dredger that stand accused of illegally collecting sand for the Hong Kong airport expansion, ran aground. However, following outrage voiced by environmental community organisation Gising Cagayan, the local governor Manuel Mamba said, “the vessel was just doing a free dredging operation in Cagayan River in exchange of the sands that would be collected therein. There is also a certification coming from MGB that there is no commercial value of the black sand content of those being dredged out”.