Siocon natives approve TVIRD rehabilitation of their ancestral landApril 16, 2021
SIOCON, Zamboanga del Norte – “We’re happy and satisfied,” Subanon tribal leader Bonifacio Patoh said of the final mine rehabilitation project of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) in his homeland at Sitio Canatuan, Barangay Tabayo of this town.
Many have described the rehabilitation work as a potential tourist attraction in the locality. The mining company has transformed the former mine site in Mt. Canatuan into a lush forest.
After a decade of mining, the area’s ‘rehab’ work is now at 96 percent complete, according to the Compliance Monitoring and Validation Report of the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team’s (MMT). The body is tasked by the government to monitor and evaluate the company’s rehabilitation work. A testimony was recently submitted to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Zamboanga City.
Patoh, former chair of Barangay Tabayo that hosted TVIRD’s mining operations, represents the local government unit in the MMT.
He signed, along with other tribal leaders, the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) detailing the responsibilities of both TVIRD and the native Subanons during the mining operations and the project’s final mine rehabilitation and decommissioning stages.
Source of livelihood
The company has planted a total of 437,600 in Canatuan – or an additional 26,600 more trees from last year. Some 6,200 trees grew in the Gossan Dam, 400 in the Diversion Dam, and 20,000 Wildlings all over 32 parcels of rehabilitation area.
This made the upland area’s temperature cooler and greener compared to other barangays of Siocon.
TVIRD has also planted other trees such as rubber, coffee, and bamboo alongside the native hardwood species. The rehabilitation team’s inventory includes 44,000 rubber trees that have grown across 71 hectares and more than 10,000 hills ready for harvest.
Meanwhile, the company has planted coffee in about 11 hectares. Most of these are already bearing crops. Aside from these, fruit-bearing coconut trees are also found in areas that are now fully rehabilitated.
“The crops planted and grown in these areas are a potential source of income when TVIRD turns over the area to its rightful owners,” said Christoper Tolentino, rehabilitation team leader.
Town councilor Gemma Romina has seen the potential of Canatuan into a tourist attraction. Romina chairs the local council’s committee on tourism,
The local lawmaker after visiting Canatuan along with other local officials and religious leaders saw the tourism potential of the area.
She said putting up amenities at the company’s Sulphide Dam could transform the place into a tourism site. Observers have spotted wild ducks in the dam area.
“Floating restaurants, mountain trails for trekking and zip lines could be placed here,” she said.
“By transforming the area into a tourist destination, the people will have another source of income. The local government will also earn from local tax,” she said.
Model in Rehabilitation
Last year, MGB regional directors from all over the country visited the site. MGB bureau chief Atty. Wilfredo Moncano, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary Nonita Caguioa led the delegation.
The team agreed with the asssessment of MMT of the project. TVIRD’s ongoing rehabilitation work had impressed them.
The rehabilitation work has also impressed the members of the Contingency Liability and Rehabilitation Fund Committee (CLRFC) who validated the MGB Region IX update on TVIRD’s progress last year.
The committee, which permitted the company’s Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Plan (FMRDP) and oversees its implementation, also approved the ‘work accomplishment rating’ earlier recommended by the MMT.
“Its accomplishment is incomparable to other mining companies which are also doing the same,” said Committee chair Engr. Rodolfo Velasco.
The Philippine Mining Law, Mining Act of 1995, has mandated mining companies to rehabilitate all mining-affected areas through soil conditioning, tree planting and removal of dangerous substances or chemicals.
To date, TVIRD has spent over P42 million in its six years of rehabilitation work. (amm/lm/PR)