In 1977 when Samar was at the height of devastation brought about by the presence of both the military and the Communist Rebels, Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Proclamation No. 1615 establishing the Samar Bauxite Mining Reservation (SBMR), which declared, among others, the bauxite deposits and bauxite bearing lands in Samar Island reserved for industrial and commercial purposes. In 1996 Fidel Ramos issued Presidential Proclamation No. 744, creating the Samar Island Forest Reserve (SIFR). Last year, DENR initiated the Samar Island Biodiversity Project (SIBP), which is pursuing a proposal for Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) that in effect will enable Republic Act 7586 or The National Integrated Protected Areas System Law to be implemented in the whole Samar Island. How these later initiatives will work in the face of the Marcos 1977 proclamation is beyond our comprehension. There are two things that are clear for now: 1) DENR Secretary Alvarez has lifted the suspension on mining in Samar August 5 this year, and; 2) There is presently a rush of applications for mining rights both inside and outside the Samar Bauxite Mineral Reservations.
As of September 25, 2002, the Mines and Geoscience Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has approved/perfected the following applicants for bauxite mining in Samar which come either under the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) or Application for Exploration Permit (EXPA): 1) Panapino Mining Inc.; 2) Cypress Mining and Development Corp.; 3) Brideston Mining Development Corp.; 4) Anaconda Mining and Development Corp.; 5) HIRICH Mining and Development Corp.; 6) Daytona Mining and Development Corp.; 7) Providence Mining and Development Corp.
Given the present socio-political atmosphere of the country, I dare to surmise the following impending effects of Bauxite Mining in Samar once operative: 1) It will be harvest time for key government people all the way from the congressmen down to the lowly barangay officials; 2) Election results will be dictated by the huge amount of lobby money that will be dangled by mining investors; 2) These wealthy corporations which are obviously foreign will cart away 99% of the earnings from mining operations leaving Samar gaping in habitual poverty; 3) The government shall generate sizeable revenues from royalties and excise taxes, but, of course, will be dissipated in no time due to massive corruption; 4) Albeit temporary, as in Bagacay, there will be more jobs and livelihood opportunities for the lowly Samareños; 5) While these foreigners will leave healthy with gargantuan profits, the majority of the people of Samar will be left with high incidence of varied physical maladies due to air and water contamination; 6) A battery of environmental problems will plague Samar due to caustic residues that will penetrate into the underground aquifers; 7) the habitat of Samar’s unique flora and fauna all the way from the forests to the coral reefs will be blown into smithereens.
All the deadly effects of bauxite mining and other kind of mining for that matter will be justified by our decision makers in the name of money which in no way will be shared with the poor people Samar. What a pity.